Cernobbio, 25th - 27th of May
As already mentioned in our last reports on the Monaco Historic GP and the Mille Miglia the last three successive weekends in May saw some of the most important Classic Car events of their kind in Europe with the final Concorso d´Eleganza at the Grand Hotel Villa d´Este at the shore of Lake Como. All of these three events are based on a historic paragon with the first Mille Miglia held in 1927 followed by the Grand Prix and the Concorso in 1929. Now over 80 years later all of them established themselves as premium events attracting visitors from all over the world making this a worthy trip even from the other side of the Atlantic. This year was the first time that they were held that close together as the HGP is biannual and the Concorso just moved to the later May date last year. When BMW took over the event back in 1999 they soon established the concept car class for modern styling studies of the large manufacturers and styling departments that are also present at the big motor shows all over the world. Last year the decision was made to move the Concorso to May to avoid an overlapping with the Shanghai Motor Show as the growing Chinese marked is very important for all the manufacturers to show their latest concept cars.
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Karl Baumer, head of the classic department at BMW spoke of a consolidation year as not just the date was new but also the Villa d´Este tour prior to the Concours and the motor bike concours was established in 2011, especially the later shows BMWs long-standing mainstay on two wheels.
But not all was new as the Concorso still consists of the on-invitation day at the Villa d´Este on Saturday and the public day at the nearby Villa Erba on Sunday.
Especially the first day with its limited space in the garden of the Grand Hotel leads to a traditionally small and exclusive field of about 50 cars in 9 classes plus the Concept Cars parked in front of the Hotel. Together with the noble ambience of the historic grounds this is a complete contrast to the big 300+ car shows in America and the international jury has to judge manageable sized classes with about half a dozen of cars. The jury consists of a mixture of automotive stylists and journalists with this years new member Nick Mason, ex-drummer of Pink Floyd and automotive enthusiast for more than 40 years. This might have been the first time that spectators were standing in line after the winners ceremony to get an autograph from one of the judges, very much to the amusement of his colleagues showing his popularity after all those year.
Beside the jury´s decision for the Best of Show (Trofeo BMW Group) on both days the spectators have the opportunity to vote for a public referendum, the Coppa d´Oro Villa D´Este and the Trofeo BMW Group Italia (Villa Erba). These are the three major prizes followed by the Class Awards and further Special Awards in the following classes.
Class A - Graceful Open Air-Style
This is a classic concours category with cabriolets from the pre-war era. This year was very much a British -American competition with a German class winner. No less that 3 Rolls-Royce ranging from a Silver Ghost Picadilly Roadster and a Phantom I by Manessius to a Phantom III by German Coachbuilder Voll&Ruhrbeck were lined up with a classic Packard Twelve Convertible by Dietrich and a Cord 812 in front of the swimming pool at the Villa D´Este. Especially the Cord had some interesting features making its competitors looking dated with the integrated radiator with horizontal air intakes compared to the huge standing radiators of the Rolls-Royce and the Packard. Another feature are the disappearing head lights in the front wings against the big lamps of the pre-war era. But class winner became the dark green Mercedes-Benz 540 K with special roadster coachwork by the factory in Sindelfingen. Not just that Special Roadsters are some of the most valuable cars of this era, the exhibited example was a very special one. Originally build for the son of the Krupp factory this is the only special roadster built on a short chassis with a short tail rather than the floating lines of its long chassis counterpart. The car was presented in original configuration including its unusual dashboard layout with radio.
Class B – Interpretations of Elegance
This class was dedicated to the 1930s and very much a mixture of coupé and cabriolets ranging from a Roesch-Talbot with a typical British touring body by James Young, a BMW 355 Cabriolet by Autenrieth to a big Chrysler Tow&Country Station Wagon, a so called Woody. This body style is typical American and not very often seen on the European Concours circle but this was without doubt one of the public favourites. But the other two cars of the class had a more interesting history, as the Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Pescara for example was built for the Duce Benito Mussolini himself. The Touring bodied Spider was entered in the Mille Miglia 1935 driven by Mussolini´s chauffeur to a third place in a special alternative fuel class. Presenter Simon Kidston pointed out during the presentation in front of the Villa d´Este that during the restoration a few years ago a separate fuel tank was found with a switch to change to standard fuel during the race, very much to the amusement of the audience. Best in Class went to the spectacular Delahaye 145 Coupé by Chapron from the Mullin Collection. Peter&Merle Mullin own no less than 3 of these rare 12-cylinder cars with successive chassic numbers originally built as Gand Prix cars. The first of these cars is known as the million-franc car as it was built to win the prize of the same amount set by the French government for a track record at Montlhery. Whereas this car still is in GP configuration the following two were rebodied by Chapron in their current coupé form, the car displayed in Cernobbio won the 1939 edition of Le Mans in the hands of Rene Dreyfus before it was transferred to road use. Still having the race chassis and the 12-cylinder engine under the elegant Chapron body this is really a supercar of its days, the competition genes clearly visible with the extensively drilled break drums. A few weeks ago the Mullins competed with this car the Serenissima run over snowy mountain passes showing that that car is used the way it was intended rather than being a trailer queen.
Class C – The Art of Streamlining
With increasing speed on the race tracks during the 1920s and 1930s the shape of the body became more important. What is today a science with wind tunnels was the work of pioneers back in the days. When looking at the big Mercedes-Benz or Bentley of the 1920s it is easy to see that their design became dated in the 1930s and people were looking for fresh design ideas and found them in the aeronautic. On of the forerunners of that time was Gabriel Voisin, one of his creations was shown with the Avions Voisin C25 Aerodyne, a sister car of the Pebble Beach winner from last year featuring the same hydraulic disappearing top and the floating tail. A typical example of the early streamlining in motorsports was the Aston Martin C Type Speed Model with the typical drop-shaped wings replacing the former cycle-wings. Compared to the race cars of the same model the exhibited example featured separate lights instead of integrated ones showing that streamlining was not always a form follows function but often just a design feature. Even more so on the spectacular Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS by Figoni. This example of the last serie was built with a very elegant line of a sleek coupé on the last evolution of the successful 6C-chassis in the desirable Grand Sport configuration. Later Figoni&Falaschi became famous for their floating art-deco style bodies but this Alfa used the streamlining in a very decent way with low roof and short tail. Presented in a very stylish black-cream colour combination it was the favourite both of the jury and the spectators as soon as it entered the field on Saturday morning. A few thought that it might be over-restored but the main point of criticism, the polished wire wheels were soon justified by period pictures of the car at one of its many appearances at various concours in the 1930s. Being built for the Paris Motor Show in 1933 this styling element was more than natural. Later the car was raced with a different body at Le Mans in 1935 winning its class making this car even more desirable. At the Concorso d´Eleganza the car made its post restoration debut winning all three major trophies with the two public and the jury prize. This was just the second time after 2009 that one car won all the silverware just as the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta did back then.
Runner up in this class was the Tatra 97 that was driven by its owner all the way from Slovakia. This was a very advanced design back in its days as it took streamlining to the next level.
A very interesting car was the Volkhart V2 Sagita, a one-off built on a VW chassis. Designer Volkhart was inspired by the pioneer of streamlining, Baron von Koenig-Fachsenfeld and some elements of its design can be found on the following Porsche 356 as they both had in common to get most out of a small engine.
The class was rounded of by a Maserati A6 1500 that was on exhibition on the new Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena just prior to the concours.
Class D – Little Jewels
When looking into the race records one always see the overall winners of the open categories with big displacements but races like the Mille Miglia or Le Mans featured many more classes for cars with smaller engines. Whereas the “big bangers” with 6, 8 or even 12 cylinders were usually entered with works support or by wealthy gentlemen drivers the smaller classes made racing affordable for others. Many of these cars were tuned derivatives based on mass production cars like Fiats in Italy, others were directly built as race cars.
The smallest car and also class winner was the Abarth Fiat 500 with Zagato body brought by a well know Japanese Abarth-Collector followed by the Moretti 750 Grand Sport. This small racer sounded just like a big one when coming up the driveway of the hotel and with the owner and his two sons in it this might have been the smallest possible way to transport 3 persons in front of the jury. Another Abarth was the 204 A with Spider Motto body and 1100 ccm that gets its place in the history books for being the last car Tazio Nuvolari raced in his long racing career. After several successes with the type 356, Porsche decided to build a pure race car in 1953, resulting in the 550 Spyder. With the legendary Fuhrmann engine with 4 camshafts driven by bevel gears this car produced 110 hp at a weight of 550 kg making this a strong opponent for the bigger cars especially on narrow tracks. The 550 Spyder tragically became famous when James Dean was killed in his example in a fatal accident, the car on show was one of the early prototypes that can be recognized by the higher tail fins than the later production cars.
The class was rounded off by the OSCA 1600 SP, the last racing car designed by the Maserati brothers and intended to race at Le Mans but never did.
Class E – Stars of the Rock ´n´ Roll Era
This class was dedicated to the cars of the 1950s starting with a duo of Ferrari 212 Inter, both bodied by Pinin Farina as Cabriolet and Coupé. Italian film director Roberto Rosselini was a good customer for Ferrari and he owned many very interesting cars over the years. The 212 Inter Coupé was bought new by him and a wedding present for his wife, actress Ingrid Bergman and the couple did their honeymoon trip from Rome to Stockholm in this car. Period pictures show the car with the luggage on top just as it was presented at the Villa D´Este. The second 212 Inter on show was built as cabriolet for the 1952 Paris Salon before it was delivered to its first owner. Although a street rather than a racing car the Ferrari was entered soon after at the 1000 km race at the Nürburgring to come home 9th overall. The car has just completed a full restoration by the Ferrari Classic department to its original configuration and made its post restoration debut at the Lake Como. The car looked just perfect and was runner up in this class, later this year the car is expected to be in Pebble Beach.
The third Italian car in this class was the Maserati A6 G2000 Allemano in two-tone black/red colour combination.
The other cars are the three legendary German sports cars from the 1950s, the Porsche 356, the Mercedes 300 SL and the BMW 507. The Porsche was an early Pre-A example by Reutter with the kink in the windshield, the 300 SL was a Gullwing with factory uprated engine and competition history. The BMW 507 was the answer of BMW on the successful Mercedes 300 SL roadster and today not few rate the rarer BMW over the Mercedes, the black example at Como was already seen in previous years but it nevertheless won its class.
Class F – The Ferrari 250 Dynasty
The Ferrari 250 Series from the 1950s to the early 1960s is without doubt the most iconic of the Ferraris built. Based on the three litre Colombo engine (although a few early examples had the Lampredi engine) this serie featured several models both on street and race cars, this class showed some of them beside the racers in the later Le Mans class.
The first car was a 250 Europa Vignale Coupé that was built on a shorter wheelbase than the previous Pinin Farina bodied Europas. The car was acquired by it present owner in need of a total restoration that was carried out in the last year. Having experience with the Vignale body on his previous 375 America he did most of the work by himself showing that even in the high class Ferrari world there are still a few passionate owners working on their cars themselves rather than having them restored in the specialized workshops. Following the Europa was the Europa GT that featured the Colombo engine with a larger bore and a smaller stroke allowing more revs and therefore more power. The car on show was a “standard” Pinin Farina Coupé with a far more straightforward design than the Vignale body with less ornamentation.
The 250 GT was built as race car in short and long wheelbase version. The GT LWB had a wheelbase of 2600 mm compared to the later 2400 mm of the SWB and became famous with the nickname TdF after its success at the Tour de France. The displayed LWB was one of just 4 examples bodied by Zagato and this might be the best looking. With a short roof compared to the Scaglietti bodied car and the typical double-bubble and open headlights the car looks very sleek, the frame of the back window shows the attention to details. The car made its second appearance at the Villa D´Este after 2003 winning its class.
The short wheelbase version (SWB) was represented by a California Spyder and a Berlinetta. Although the California Spyder was intended as a cheaper version of the Series I Cabriolet it is today the most sought after open version, especially in this short chassis configuration with covered headlights, the spyder represented here had a very attractive light blue metallic colour. The SWB Berlinetta was available both as steel (lusso) and aluminium competition version and intended both for street and racing, the SWB shown here was a steel version. The class was rounded off by the last of the street versions, the 250 GT Lusso.
Class G – La Dolce Vita
This class featured the cars driven by the sportive gentlemen in Paris, at the Cote d´Azure or Rome during the time. In 1962 one of these cars was the Ferrari 400 Superamerica Aerodynamic by Pininfarina. As the name indicates these cars with larger engines were built for the American market where people were used to a larger displacement and cruising, but this concept did also work on the continent when cruising down the Croisette in Cannes. This particular car was the last of the first series of 400 Superamerica and was delivered new by Chinetti Motors to its first American owner, today the car is restored back to its original colour blu sera with red interior.
The same exterior colour was on the Maserati 5000 GT Allemano, the counterpart of Maserati in those days. The car is based on the 3500 GT chassis but has the larger 5 litre engine that was intended for racing but placed in this street car after Maserati discontinued their racing program. A very special car was brought by Corrado Lopresto, known to collect special bodied Italien cars and prototypes like this Lancia Flaminia Coupé by Pininfarina, a one-off designed by Tom Tjaarda who presented the car on Sunday to the spectators in front of the Villa Erba.
Another one-off was the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Prototipo looking very much like the previous 275 GTB/4 at the front to feature the known back of the later Daytona. When looking a the interior it shows more similarity with the 275 as well, the engine was a special 4.4 litre engine.
When people were asked what the first real Supercar was most of them think of the Lamborghini Miura. Even more so the presented Miura SV/J, the hottest version available for customers and just 4 times built. The car was shown in Como by Lamborghini test driver Valentino Barboni and stood aside its successor, the Countach.
Class H – Gentlemen´s Sports Car
One marque became synonymous with the idea of a Gentlemen´s Sports Car: Bentley. After Bentley was taken over by Rolls-Royce the marque lost its racing background of the days of W.O. Bentley but it stayed the sportive part of the company. Before the war the 4 ¼ and 3 ½ litre cars were named “the silent sports car” and this is what they stayed after the war with the R-Type and the S-Type Continental. So it is no surprise that this class featured 3 Bentley out of 5 ranging from a R-Type by Mulliner to a S1 Continental Fastback by the same coachbuilder. The later car was entered by Sir Anthony Bamford who´s father was the first owner of the car. When looking on the colour scheme orange-cream “understatement” is not the first word that comes to mind and it must have been a show when this car appeared in the street in the late 1950s. The Bamford family is known to be the owner of JCB (manufacturer of loaders and tractors) and Simon Kidston had a funny story to tell on the registration number of the Bentley “JCB1”. When Joseph Cyril Bamford saw a scooter with this registration number in a shop window back then he entered the sales room and told the salesman that he wants to buy this scooter to get the number. It turned out that the shop had even more scooters with these numbers and it was reported that Bamford left the shop with 12 scooters and the numbers JCB1 – JCB12 that graced all the following family cars.
But the class victory went to an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet by Ghia followed by an Alvis TD21 with Graber body.
Class I – Heroes of Le Mans
The last of the historic classes was dedicated to the greatest race of all, the 24h of Le Mans. Although these cars are not common in the concours circle they were spectators favourites. The oldest of the racers was the Jaguar D-Type, the type that won at La Sarthe between 1955 and 1957.
The next car was the Aston Martin DBR1, maybe one of the best looking race cars ever build. After several attempts of David Brown to win Le Mans with the DB3S the DBR1 was developed to compete in the sports car world championship. In 1959 the DBR1 fulfilled David Brown´s dream of the overall victory in the hands of Carol Shelby and Roy Salvadori who unfortunately both passed away recently. The car presented in Cernobbio was the fourth of five cars built and came home second in this race in the hands of Maurice Tritingnant and Paul Frere.
Two more Ferrari were in this class with the 250 GTO and the 250 LM. The 250 GTO in its golden jubilee year was shown at the Cavallino Classic in January where it won BoS and again in Amelia Island in March. Maybe the judges over here were not so happy about the recent engine change to a GTE-block to safe the original one from damage as the owner intends to drive the car fast in the weeks to come. At the Villa Erba the GTO stood next to its successor, the 250 LM. After succeeding in telling the officials that the GTO was a direct development of the 250 GT SWB (to avoid the required minimum quantity of cars built for the homologation) Enzo Ferrari tried this again with the 250 LM (that should be named 275 LM due to its engine capacity) but failed to explain the change from the engine from front to back leaving the 250 LM in the prototype class rather than the GT class. Nevertheless the car achieved what the GTO did not: an overall win at Le Mans 1965, the last one for the Italian marque there until the present day.
The dominance of Ferrari in the years before was ended with the appearance of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans four times in a row. The car on display was one of the rare road versions that covered less than 6000 miles when the current owner acquired it and carefully restored it rewarded with the prize for the most sensitive restoration.
In 1969 Porsche appeared at Le Mans with their first pure racer going for the overall victory rather than class wins, the famous Porsche 917. After winning Le Mans in 1970 the 917 became immortal with its appearance in the film “Le Mans” with Steve McQueen where this 917 was driven by Mr.Cool himself. The current owner was able to convince Porsche to sell him this car in 1973 when its racing career was over and they were not interested in it any more. When he showed up in Stuttgart to collect it on a cold winter day the car had to be shoveled clear of snow as it was sitting outside of the building. Today it was presented almost as it left the factory back then but it is in full running condition as one could see and hear when parading down the the winners ceremony.
As mentioned the Concorso is also a place to see the latest concept cars. Some of them might be almost ready for production like the Aston Martin Project 310, others were not even running like the winning Alfa Romeo.
With the studies one could see several trends: first of all it was easy to see that many of them showed off in a red metallic paint what seems to be the upcoming colour. Second is the missing B-pillar on most of the cars with two different solutions. Whereas the Pininfarina and Bertone study featured opposite opening doors the Ford Evos and the Italdesign Giugiaro Brivido had large Gullwing doors. Another trend is the usage of wood in the interior, especially in the Pininfarina but also in the Bertone Jaguar.
Out of competition BMW showed its new cooperation with Zagato, the BMW Zagato Coupé presented by Adrian van Hooydonk and Andrea Zagato.
Once again the Concorso d´Eleganza at the Villa D´Este featured a spectacular line-up of cars with many highlights and a deserved winner of all major prizes. With the pure Ferrari and the Le Mans class this years Concours was a very sportive one compared to the recent editions. As Urs Ramseier left the concours as a consultant this part was taken over by Simon Kidston but after one edition it is to early to say whether this was an exception or a trend. Certainly we are all looking forward to the next edition in 2013 when RM Auctions will be back as well after this years Monaco Auction.
Report & images Peter&Wolfgang Singhof
Entry List & List of Keywords assigned ... including chassis numbers
Villa D´Este 2012
Class A - Graceful Open-Air Style
002 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Picadilly Roadster by Rolls-Royce 1922
004 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Drophead Coupé by Manessius 1925
006 Packard Twelve 15th Series Convertible Victoria by Dietrich 1937
008 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Cabriolet by Voll & Ruhrbeck 1937
010 Cord 812 S/C Phaeton by Cord 1937
012 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster by M-B Sindelfingen s/n 421987 1939
Class B - Interpretations of Elegance
014 Talbot AV105 Sports Tourer by James Young 1933
016 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Pescara Spider by Touring s/n 700635 1935
018 Delahaye 145 Coupé by Chapron s/n 48772 1937
020 Lancia Astura IV Serie Roadster by Motto 1937
022 BMW 335 Cabriolet by Autenrieth 1939
024 Chrysler Town & Country Station Wagon by Pekin Wood Products 1941
Class C - The Art of Streamlining
026 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS 6th Series Coupé by Figoni s/n 121215054 1933
028 Avions Voisin C 25 Berline Aerodyne by Avions Voisin 1935
030 Aston Martin C Type Speed Roadster by Bertelli s/n A9/722/U 1939
032 Tatra 87 Sedan Aerodynamic by Ringhoffer Tatra Werke 1939
034 Volkhart V2 Sagitta Coupé by Fuchs 1947
036 Maserati A6 1500 Coupé by Pinin Farina s/n 053 1947
Class D - Little Jewels
038 Abarth 204 A Spider by Motto s/n 04 1950
040 Porsche 550/1500 RS Spider by Porsche s/n 550-10 1954
042 Moretti 750 Grand Sport Coupé by Moretti s/n 1294S 1954
044 Abarth - Fiat 500 Coupé by Zagato 1957
046 O.S.C.A.-Fratelli Maserati 1600 SP Coupé by Osca 1963
Class E - Stars of the Rock´n´Roll Era
048 Ferrari 212 Inter Cabriolet by Pinin Farina s/n 0235EU 1952
050 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupé by Pinin Farina s/n 0265EU 1953
052 Porsche 356 Pre A Cabriolet by Reutter 1953
054 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé Gullwing by Mercedes-Benz 1956
056 Maserati A6G 2000 Coupé by Allemano s/n 2147 1956
058 BMW 507 Roadster by Baur 1958
Class F - The Ferrari 250 Dynasty
060 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupé by Vignale s/n 0313EU 1954
062 Ferrari 250 GT Europa Coupé by Pinin Farina s/n 0399GT 1955
064 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta by Zagato s/n 0515GT 1956
066 Ferrari 250 GT Spider California by Scaglietti s/n 3059GT 1961
068 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta by Scaglietti s/n 3359GT 1962
070 Ferrari 250 GTL Coupé by Scaglietti s/n 5661GT 1964
Class G - La Dolce Vita
072 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Aerodynamic by Pininfarina s/n 3747SA 1962
074 Maserati 5000 GT Coupé by Allemano s/n 105-046 1962
076 Lancia Flaminia Coupé by Pininfarina 1963
078 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Prototype Coupé by Scaglietti s/n 10287 1967
080 Lamborghini Miura SV/J Coupé by Bertone s/n 5090 1972
082 Lamborghini LP 400 Countach by Bertone 1975
Class H - Gentleman´s Sports Car
084 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet by Ghia 1947
086 Bentley R Type Drophead Coupé by H.J. Mulliner 1953
088 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupé by Park Ward 1957
090 Bentley S1 Continental Coupé Fastback by H.J.Mulliner 1958
092 Alvis TD 21 2nd Series Coupé by Graber 1962
Class I - Heroes of Le Mans
094 Jaguar D Type Open Two Seater by Jaguar s/n XKD551 1956
096 Aston Martin DBR1 Open Two Seater by Aston Martin s/n DBR1/4 1959
098 Ferrari 250 GTO Coupé by Scaglietti s/n 3943GT 1962
100 Ferrari 250 LM Coupé by Pininfarina s/n 6119 1964
102 Ford GT 40 Mk3 Coupé by Ford s/n GT40/M3/1103 1968
104 Porsche 917/K Coupé by Porsche s/n 917-013 1969
The Concept Car Class
C02 Pininfarina Cambiano Eco-Friendly Luxury Sedan Engine: Electric (2012)
C04 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupé Engine: 4 Cyl. / 1750 (2011)
C06 Stile Bertone Jaguar B99 4 Door Sedan Engine: - (2011)
C08 Rinspeed Dock+Go 2 Seater City Car Engine: Electric (2012)
C10 Ford Motor Company Ford EVOS Concept 4 Door Sedan Engine: 4 Cyl. / 1600 (2011)
C12 Italdesign Giugiaro Brivido Gran Turismo Engine: 6 Cyl. / 3000 / Hybrid (2012)
C14 Toyota Motor Corp. Lexus LF-LC 2+2 Sport Coupé Engine: Hybrid (2012)
C16 Rimac Automobili Concept_One Coupé Engine: Electric (2011)
C18 Aston Martin Project AM 310 (2012)
BMW 2002 Group 2
BMW 320 Turbo Group 5
BMW 500 ccm World Record Machine
BMW i8 Concept
BMW M3 DTM
BMW M3 Group A
BMW R5 SS
BMW RS 54 Sidecar
BMW V12 Le Mans
BMW Z4 M Coupé
BMW Zagato Coupé
BMW Zagato Coupé and BMW designer Adrian van Hooydonk
McLaren-BMW F1 GTR Le Mans