Remembering Villa d’Este 2022

Images: Sanjoy Bose

The 2022 edition of Concorso d’Eleganza of Villa d’Este—undoubtedly one of the most interesting and fascinating of all the concours d’elegance events across the globe—did not betray expectations, as some of the world’s finest and rarest automobiles were lined up over Saturday and Sunday, the 21st and 22nd of May, 2022. We revisit it once again, as we get ready for the 2023 edition, where six cars of Indian provenance will be starring in the Incredible India class.

As usual, collectors, the finest of restorers, several prominent personalities from automotive high society and professionals from the industry gathered together in the gardens of the former Renaissance residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio exactly a year ago, to check out all the automotive beauties and to select the most beautiful of bolides in the event.

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The class-winning Chrysler-Boano Coupe Special, which was designed for Gianni Agnelli

Sponsored by BMW (who have been doing so for a decade), the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2022 also celebrated two very important automotive anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of BMW’s M family and the 75th anniversary of Italy’s most prestigious Ferrari.

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Startlingly beautiful Mostro B, by Zagato, in the Concept Cars & Prototypes class

With over a hundred cars competing, it was not easy for the 13 judges, who shared the responsibility of examining each and every car from amongst the eight classes. Seven of them pertained to historic vehicles: The Golden Age of Elegance - Art Deco Era (essentially luxury cars produced in the 1920s and the 1930s), Kompressor! The supercharged Mercedes-Benz (supercharged Mercedes produced in the 1920s and the 1930s), Celebrating 150 Seasons at Villa d'Este (automotive masterpieces from the 1950s and 1960s), The Cavallino at 75 (eight Ferraris representing the eight decades of cars from the Prancing Horse marque), Born for the Race Track (racing cars with covered wheels, of every era), 50 Years of Mean Machinery (dedicated to the BMW M family) and Breaking the Speed Barrier (cars that aimed at a 300 km/h top speed).

The eighth class was for one that was reserved for modern concept cars and prototypes (produced in the last one year), a practice similar to what Chantilly Arts and Elegance has started (or should we say reinstituted?).

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One of the oddities at the concours was this delightful speedster based on the BMW 700, one of two ever made

But what is unique to Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is the ‘people’s choice’, the car that is voted as the one that the visiting public likes the most. On Saturday, the 21st of May 2022, as the showgoer munched his or her club sandwich and sipped delicately his or her glass of Taittinger’s champagne, the voting of the most beautiful car at the show was on. The winner of this year’s coveted Copa d’Oro (the very prestigious Gold Cup), went to the ultimate wedge machine, the stunning Aston Martin Bulldog, owned by the young Philipp Sarofim.

The other two awards were the FIVA Preservation Award and the ASI Trophy, with an astoundingly well-preserved Bugatti Type 59 Sports from 1934, and belonging to Swiss collector Fritz Burkard, winning the former, and a no-less impressive Maserati A6 GCS MM from 1954, owned by Ulrich Schumacher, winning the later. Malcolm Grubb, vice-president of FIVA’s Events commission present as a judge, as was ASI’s president Alberto Scuro.

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Merle Mullin driving her 1935 Hispano-Suiza J12, accompanied by Heidi Mraz who is on her left

The main prize distribution and award ceremony was on Sunday, the 22nd of May, 2022. The class winners included the 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A of Swiss enthusiast Hans Hulsbergen; the one-off Chrysler Boano Coupe Speciale, from 1956, of American Stephen Bruno; RQ Collections’ Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti, from 1966; the very rare 1961 Porsche 356 B Carrera Abarth GTL, owned by another American, Robert A. Ingram; a BMW 3.0 CSL, from 1972, owned by German Michael Ulbig; the 1989 Porsche 959 Sport of another German Andreas Gundermann; and the Bugatti 57 S, from 1937, of Monaco-based Andrew Pisker, which also went on to win the ultimate: the Best of Show!

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This beautifully original Bugatti Type 59 Sports, from 1934, and owned by Swiss enthusiast Fritz Burkard, won FIVA's prestigious Preservation Award

The Concorso d'Eleganza Design Award for concept cars and prototypes (via public referendum) was won by the incredible Bugatti Bolide presented by in-house designer Achim Anscheidt (with Bugatti’s new owner Mate Rimac sitting as his passenger).

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The ASI Trophy for the best preserved car post-War went to this Maserati A6 GCS MM, owned by Ulrich Schumacher

It would also be worth mentioning some of the other prizes awarded during the event: the BMW M Trophy (for the most powerful car) was for Stefan Näf's 1993 Ferrari F40 LM, the Trofeo Automobile Club Cernobbio (the car that came from the furthest distance) for Erich Oswald's 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, the Vranken Pommery Trophy (the most iconic) went to a 1929 Mercedes-Benz 710 SS, owned by Eric van Lammeren, the Auto & Design Trophy (for the most radical design) went to the 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti and the BMW Group Classic Trophy (the most difficult restoration) was for a 1936 Cord 812 Phaeton from the JBS Collection.

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But the car that was the most popular with the visitors was Philipp Sarofim's Aston Martin Bulldog

Barely a kilometre away, on the grounds of another renaissance mansion, Villa Erba, BMW sponsored the show for the hoi polloi, where another hundred-odd automobiles assembled on Sunday, the 23rd of May, 2022. With marque and local clubs participating, it was open to the public for free (unlike the €450 entrance tickets for Villa d’Este), and was no less fascinating in the range of vehicles on display: from dime-a-dozen Fiats to rare Oscas and Maseratis, from Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS to Montreals, from BMW 2800s (E3) to the first of the M cars, the 535is (the E12s), from Porsches to… err… more Porsches. A really delightful line-up!

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Amongst the nine Ferraris on display, this one-off Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti (from 1966) and the 275 GTB (which is behind it), impressed all

Collector cars and concours consultant Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan, who curated one of the entries among the Historic cars, noted that "the Villa d’Este concours is a purist’s delight, the line-up of the most exceptional cars, their passionate owners, a discerning crowd and the scenic setting on the Lake Como makes it the most exclusive and traditional concours d’elegance.”

Gautam Sen

Serial concours judge, author, founder-editor of several Indian auto mags, as well as co-conspirator with design greats Marcello Gandini, Tom Tjaarda, and Gérard Godfroy on a few vehicle projects


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