Lake Como once again looks back on two glorious days under the banner of extraordinary automotive design. At the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este held from 20 to 22 April, 53 classic cars spanning the period from 1919 to 1971 lined up in eight competition classes before the critical gaze of the jury as well as the public. Lorenzo Ram aciotti, President of the Jury, lauded this unique gathering of automotive works of art against the backdrop of the world-famous Grand Hotel Villa d’Este. It was the ninth staging of the Concorso under the patronage of the BMW Group.
The future of automotive design could be glimpsed in the competition for contemporary concept cars, with a line-up of 13 cutting-edge designs providing a taster of tomorrow’s cars. Following on from last year there was a world premiere among the contestants again: Carrozzeria Zagato took the wraps off the Maserati GS Zagato before the public for the first time. The BMW Group, meanwhile, presented (hors concours) the public debut of the Concept Coupé Mille Miglia 2006. Following its appearance on Lake Como, this homage to the winning car of 1940 - the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé - will not be seen again until it goes on display in the BMW Museum next year.
The extent of public interest was reflected in the crowds that thronged the grounds of Villa Erba on Sunday. On this extensive site next to Lake Como, auto enthusiasts were able to survey the line-up of classic four-wheelers and concept cars as well as viewing the special exhibitions "90 Years of the BMW Brand" and "Automobile design by Giovanni Michelotti".
The Trofeo BMW Group went to the Mercedes-Benz SSK from the year 1930. This SSK was produced in England by coachbuilder Willi White based on designs by Count Felice Trossi. It is one of very few Mercedes -Benz SSK models to feature special bodywork. The man who commissioned the design and the colour of the car earned it the nickname of "Black Prince". This model is part of the Ralph Lauren Collection.
The Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este public award, the main prize decided by visitors, went to the Bugatti 57C Cabriolet Voll & Ruhrbeck of 1939. The car’s chassis was one of the last to be delivered to German Bugatti importer Noll of Düsseldorf before the outbreak of the Second World War. Voll & Ruhrbeck were commissioned with constructing a special body for the chassis. The Bugatti was subsequently owned by Norwegian Olympic ice-skating champion Sonja Heine. Following a complete restoration, the Bugatti was making its first European appearance in its original version. James A. Patterson is the current owner.
The Trofeo BMW Italia (Public Referendum at Villa Erba) was awarded to the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Flying Star from the year 1931. Carrozzeria Touring of Milan built a special body for the Alfa Romeo which has gone down in motoring history as the "Flying Star". It was with this model that Mrs Josette Pozzo won the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este in the 1931 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. 76 years on, the Alfa Romeo Flying Star has not only returned to the historic site of its major triumph but has also claimed a further prize as the winner of the Trofeo BMW Italia. The car hails from the collection of Arturo Keller.
The Trofeo FIVA for the best-kept car went to the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Spider Zagato of 1929 owned by Henri Chambon. With its lightweight body, this model seemed tailor-made for racing and went on to win the 1929 Mille Miglia. The prize for the furthest journey, presented by the Automobile Club Como, went to the BMW 335 Cabriolet Autenrieth. Per Viberg set out in his four-door cabriolet from the north of Norway in a blizzard and drove it all the way down to sunny Como. The Trofeo Rolls-Royce for the most elegant coachwork on a Rolls-Royce was awarded to the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental 2 door Hooper of Stefan Schörghuber dating back to 1932. Just three examples of this two-seater were built on the chassis of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental.
Very much in keeping with the tradition of the competition, the last six years have featured a design prize for the best contemporary concept cars. The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este Design Award went to the Ferrari P4/5 Pininfarina . Precisely 400 units of the sensational Ferrari Enzo supercar were built in Maranello. But for US film producer and stockmarket guru James M. Glickenhaus, this was not exclusive enough. The Ferrari collector commissioned Carrozzeria Pininfarina of Turin with the construction of a special body based on a standard Enzo. The shape of the P4/5 body recalls the legendary Daytona-winning Ferrari 330 P4 of 1967.