Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este: The Italian Style Concours That Remains One Of The Best Historic Vehicle Shows

Images: Patrick Rollet & Tiddo Bresters

The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is traditionally held in the month of May. During this time, an exclusive part of Italy’s Lake Como buzzes with the sound of high-powered automobiles as some of the finest historic vehicles from across the globe get together for a weekend of spit, polish and show off.

This Ferrari 250GT Tour de France from 1956, owned by American collector Brian Ross, was the "Best of Show"

With the pandemic making a mess of plans, it was only on the weekend of 1 to 3 October 2021, that the walls of Villa d’Este reverberated to the sounds of six, eight and V12s.

Class winning Pininfarina-bodied Ferrari 250 GT California SWB, from 1960; part of the Monaco-based Destriero collection

Established as early in 1929, the Concorso d’Elegenza Villa d’Este is one of the oldest ongoing concours d’elegance competition in the world and is, arguably, one of the most prestigious too.

Beautiful Isotta Fraschini 8C Monterosa with body by Boneschi, owned by Corrado Lopresto; the Isotta Fraschini truck behind is also part of the Lopresto collection

With the limitations of space, just 50-odd cars compete for the various classes and the best of show.

A 1959 BMW 507 Roadster is presented to the public on the Villa d'Este hotel's terrace; Lake Como and Riva speedboats on the right

However, the event organisers, with BMW as main sponsor supporting the concours for many years now, manage to get together some of the most extraordinary automobiles from before WW II, and after.

A 1964 Le Mans-winning performance index Alpine M64 with the car's proud American owners Mrs and Mr Mitch McCulloch, and Emmanuel Bacquet, a new member of selection committee

Despite German sponsorship (from BMW), the cars that won the Best of Show for the last seven years have been Italian, and this year was no different.

A delightful Siata 208 CS V8, from 1954, as the FIVA team, including Dominik Fischlin, inspects the car

A 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France took home the Best of Show trophy at the 2021 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.  

FIVA President Tiddo and Marianna Bresters posing next to the class-winning 1938 de Villars-bodied Delage D8-120S, owned by Swiss collector Fritz Burkard

Owned by American collector Brian Ross, the Ferrari will now attend the final of the 2021 Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award in Paris next February.

The Lancia Dilambda that won the popular vote and thus the Coppa d'Oro, the gold cup

A 1930 Lancia Dilambda Series I with coachwork by Carlton Carriage won the 2021 Copa d’Oro (Gold Cup) at the Concorso d’Eleganza, the trophy awarded to the most popular car according to visitors and spectators.

Luxurious interior of this one-off 1948 Isotta Fraschini cabriolet bodied by Boneschi; amber buttons, clock on the steering wheel center

The car, a convertible coupe with bodywork by the British coachbuilder Carlton Carriage, is powered by a 3960cc V8. Acquired in 2018 by the Italian Filippo Sole, the car underwent a long and comprehensive process of restoration that lasted almost a year, before the beautiful tourer retrieved the splendour it must have had 90 years ago.

Pre-war cars line up, with a 1926 Hispano Suiza H6B, with dual cowl, at the front; with a body by Bligh Brothers, this car is owned by British design legend Marc Newson

“I took part in the competition for the first time, almost for fun, a couple of years ago,” explained Sole, “and I fell in love with this event. This time, however, I wanted to present a truly unique car. Also, on the advice of my wife, I decided to restore the Lancia Dilambda. It was a team effort, and the award is especially for the other members of the team.”

A row of one-off 1950s beauties based on Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Siata and Lancia mechanicals

With eight classes, there were as many as eight class winners too. The classes included one for Italian Gran Turismos, endurance racers, a class for supercars, a class of cars designed by Pininfarina to celebrate the coachbuilder’s 90th anniversary, as well as a car for the “hypercars” of the 1990s.

A unique 1939 Glaser-bodied Steyr 220 Sport Kabriolet, with coachwork by Gläser; owned by Latvian Felikss Vencko

A 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB, from the Monaco-based Destriero collection, won the Pininfarina class. Another class winner was a de Villars-bodied Delage D8-120S from 1938, owned by Swiss collector, Fritz Burkard.

A rare Austrian, the Gräf & Stift, which had its factory in Vienna

FIVA’s current and former presidents Tiddo Bresters and Patrick Rollet chose a 1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost for the Preservation award, as a car that was the best preserved.

A gorgeous Lamborghini Miura ahead of a Ferrari Daytona

Although there was a class for concept cars, and there were several from BMW and others, the car that caught the fancy of everyone was a car that was a recreation of a concept from more than half a century ago: the extraordinary Lamborghini Countach LP500, from 1971. You can read more about the “new” Countach, in an opinion piece by Michael Robinson.

Astounding even 50 years later, the replica of the Lamborghini Countach LP500


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