WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOGRAPHY: BUGATTI/BMW/SUDHIR MATAI
An eclectic mix of the world’s most beautiful and desirable collector cars competed for the coveted Best of Show crown at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy on May 20-22, 2022.
Set atop the picturesque shore of Lake Como, the Concorso d’Eleganza is the world’s longest-standing concours d’elegance, having hosted its first automotive pageant nearly a century ago in 1929.
During that time the event has built a deserved reputation as a whimsical expression of Italian grandezza, and this year was no different; white-suited waiters served refreshments on the Grand Hotel terrace to the elegantly dressed automotive upper classes while Riva yachts bobbed hypnotically on the lake.
While the opulent setting remained the same, BMW Group – which has been jointly organising the event for the past 20 years – decided to refresh the format; the concours cars undertook a curtain-raising tour from Milan to Cernobbio on May 19, while a second parade of the competing cars took place on the Grand Hotel terrace on Sunday.
The Saturday parade has always been one of the most memorable highlights of the Concorso d’Eleganza, so the decision for an encore on Sunday is a fitting way to mark the Grand Hotel’s 150th anniversary in addition to a special concours class for cars that have previously appeared at the show.
Villa Erba – an established Concorso d’Eleganza venue – hosted an eclectic selection of 150 cars on May 22 in the new Wheels & Weisswürscht event, which replaces the previous part of the concours that was open to the public.
The main concours comprised a carefully curated roster of 50 of the world’s most beautiful and desirable collector cars. A 1937 Bugatti 57S Cabriolet eventually emerged as the Best of Show winner, and Monaco-based owner Andrew Pisker was duly presented with a one-of-a-kind A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph wristwatch alongside the coveted trophy.
The show-winning Bugatti is one of just four Vanvooren-bodied examples built, and was miraculously reunited with its original straight-eight engine after four decades. One of the Bugatti’s ten previous owners had somewhat sacrilegiously fitted a Buick V8, and the original motor was acquired and refitted after a fortuitous internet search.
Phillip Sarofim and his wedgy Aston Martin Bulldog won the public vote and took home the Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este trophy. Magneto tracked the progress of the car’s two-year restoration after it was publicly announced by CMC in February 2020. Stripped back and then painstakingly restored to William Towns’ original specification, the Bulldog’s triumphant and long-overdue return was perfectly rounded off by the trophy.
Another rare prototype supercar previously featured in Magneto is the fabulous Ferrari 365P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti. One of just two produced, its presence at Villa d’Este represented a rare appearance in Europe after its cameo at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2021.
As the first in a long line of legendary road-going mid-engined Ferraris, the Tre Posti was the perfect car to lead the marque’s 75th anniversary celebrations at Villa d’Este. Naturally, it was complemented by a host of equally rare and special Ferraris, including a beautiful 1956 250GT Zagato, one of four 1958 335S race cars and a 1993 F40LM, among others.
A further significant anniversary was being marked by event organiser BMW, which is celebrating 50 years of its legendary M division in 2022. A Works BMW M1 racer was the most notable Bavarian machine displayed, and was raced by the prolific Formula 1 duo of Clay Regazzoni and Carlos Reutemann in period.
Once again, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este provided an incredible array of machinery in one of the world’s most idyllic settings, celebrating cars from the artisan coachbuilding era of the 1920s and ’30s to current cutting-edge hypercars such as the Bugatti Bolide – which won the design award for concept cars and prototypes.
Full results can be accessed here.
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