Villa d’Este brings up all those romantic images of Italy. The villa itself is 145 years old and surrounded by a private park and overlooks Lake Como – you know, the place where George Clooney has a house. It’s all very fancy like and the perfect place for a “competition of elegance,” a Concours d’Elegance, if you will.
There are three main Concours d’Elegance held every year: Amelia Island, Pebble Beach, and this one at Lake Como. They’re all pretty similar but each has its own unique take on things. Each event is where the best of the best are gathered together to be admired and judged the best in their respective categories.
In Italy, this year’s theme was “Hollywood on the Lake,” with a lot of nods to famous automotive film stars. But instead of getting a special appearance by the aforementioned George Clooney, we got a Darth Vader instead.
If you even have an ounce of gasoline running through your veins this is something you’ll want to see for yourself one day. It’s hard to explain why standing around under the strong Italian sun on a lawn by the lake is appealing, but it truly is especially with some of the best, rarest, and most beautiful cars in the world out on display.
I’ll be the first to admit I hadn’t the faintest idea what most of the cars there were, but luckily I had a handbook to help me identify most of the cars. But that didn’t stop me from admiring them.
If anything, it made me wonder if in 100 years time there’ll still be a Concours d’Elegance event and what cars from our era will be put on display.
Roughly 55 cars were split into nine different categories, including race cars and concept cars. Some of the most iconic F1 cars throughout time were shown including the Maserati 250F, Porsche 718/2, B.R.M. P-180, Tyrrell P34, Alfa Romeo 182, and McLaren MP4/2B driven by Alain Prost.
The best thing though was all of the cars, F1 included, had to drive to the judging panel which meant hearing and seeing these raw machines in action. There’s not many chances to see these cars in the metal, let alone in motion. That was a real privilege.
In fact, the best thing about the Villa d’Este show was that all the cars just drove around at one point or another. Whether it was driving to the judging panel and into the storage garage or just randomly around town between Villa d’Este and Villa Erba where the public show was held, it was one of the few times in life where it was possible to see priceless cars such as an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, Ferrari 250 GTO, and Bugatti 57s on the road.
Ferrari 250 GTO
Bugatti 57 Atalante
It might be called the Villa d’Este Concourso d’Eleganza but the show is split between Villa d’Este and Villa Erba down the road. Both locations are just as fancy and beautiful as each other with equally stunning views of Lake Como, where George Clooney has a house you know.
It’s not a long drive between the two Villas but it does go through a very picturesque Italian town, which serves as an acceptable background to see these cars on the go.
Over at Villa Erba it was much the same as the display at Villa d’Este, the cars were on grass with crowds around them until they had to drive in front of the judging panel. However, there was also a special exhibit for some of BMW’s special cars including a pair of M1s, a whole bunch of i8 Roadsters, and a rather cool display of BMW film cars such as the James Bond Z8, Z3, and 750Li, Mr. Bean’s Mini Cooper, and the V16 Rolls-Royce Phantom from Johnny English 2.
Rolls-Royce Phantom V16
BMW M3 Mission Impossible
All the classics started to give me an appreciation of modern cars and thinking about how these will be viewed in the future. With the way things are progressing in the auto industry these days it won’t be long until the internal combustion is all but gone.
This begs the question; what cars will be displayed at future Concours d’Elegance events? Something rare and exotic with a legendary engine, say a Pagani Zonda or Porsche Carrera GT? An obscure modern coachbuilt car like the Touring Superleggera Disco Volante or Aston Martin V12 Zagato? Maybe even the fad of SUV-coupes?
Genesis Essential Concept
Mazda Vision Concept