My trip to Lake Como this year was, for once, one of rather poor timing! Amidst the opening of our new showroom in California, as we build our initial stock and collection to bring to market, perhaps the last thing I needed was a trip to Europe. But attending Villa d’Este only served to underpin the reasons I love the world of fine classic and sports cars.
For those who are unaware, this annual car event dates back to 1921 and is truly one of the most magical settings in the world, situated on the lakeside grounds of the famed and historic Grand Hotel Villa d’Este. Add in for good measure a select group of 51 beautiful automobiles, unseasonably hot weather this year and the stage was set for another memorable Concorso held under the careful patronage of BMW Group.
One aspect of the concours I have particularly enjoyed historically is the showing of new and leading edge concept cars. However this year they were noticeable by their absence save for the 2016 Renault TreZor, a svelte electric coupe and the flamboyant 2017 Techrules Ren an Italian designed three-seater coupe with turbine electric power boasting nearly 1,300 HP! I do hope the organisers reconsider the decision to include this category because as much as I love the past, I also love the future.
Prior to the main show I had the opportunity to closely inspect many of the entries as I joined the official FIVA scrutineering team, double checking that all paperwork was in order as well as engine and chassis numbers all present and correct. Immediate highlight cars that impressed me were two early race cars, namely the eight cylinder 1920 French Grand Prix winning Ballot owned by Alexander Schaufler from Austria and the ex-Tim Birkin 1929 Blower Bentley, the Brooklands record holder that for many decades was owned by famed horologist George Daniels and whose current custodian is Jürgen Ernst from Germany. The field as ever was highly diverse and included a new-to-me unique 1935 motorcycle-powered streamliner named the 'Lurani Nibbio' in which Italian Count Johnny Lurani had set records in period and now fittingly was entered and shown by his grandson, Federico Göttsche Bebert; compare that to a remarkably stunning Verde Germoglio (think Lime Green) Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB the only example to leave the factory in this livery and you can imagine the quality and diversity of the field.
The Saturday show at Villa d’Este is reserved for entrants and friends of the Concorso as well as some invited guests and is about as close to car heaven as one can imagine with beauty everywhere. RM Sotheby’s held their Villa Erba auction the same night with somewhat mixed results as the market place continues to re-adjust, while entrants enjoyed a sumptuous dinner and entertainment to the theme of “Around the World in 80 days” at the nearby Villa. On Sunday the event opens up to the public at Villa Erba with the cars now displayed on the lawns beside the lake. Other attractions include motorcycles and a BMW Group Classic display as well as the aforementioned auction cars. Further awards and class winners are announced.
The finale is the black tie gala dinner back at the Grand Hotel with the various class winners all lined up against the majestic backdrop of Lake Como and after dinner the guests assemble on the terrace to await in suspense for the announcment of the “Trofeo BMW Group/Best of Show" by the jury and which this year went to the stunning 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototype owned by Corrado Lopresto. A dramatic fireworks display over the lake concludes another wonderful display of some of the world’s finest machines.
As always many congratulations to BMW Group and all involved for a magnificently well organized and successful event.