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Heavy snow robs The ICE St Moritz of its usual dynamism


“Due to the heavy snow that keeps falling abundantly, today’s program has been cancelled.”

It’s the kind of message every event organiser dreads having to put out there. But as the first moments of heavily diffused daylight began to wash over the Engadin valley on Friday morning, it became abundantly clear to everyone in St Moritz that those in charge had no option but to cancel. Nearly half a metre of snow had fallen overnight, with regular flurries causing a dramatic reduction in visibility. Initial hopes that Saturday’s program might still go ahead were quickly dashed as the snow continued to fall throughout the two-day event, with only occasional rays of sunlight briefly penetrating the cloud blanket.

There’s more than one reason St Moritz in late February was chosen as the ideal time and venue to host The International Concours of Elegance St Moritz, better known as The ICE. For starters, the setting is pure snow-draped fantasy: a celebrated Alpine resort town in the Engadin valley, nestled between the foot of the Albula Alps and the frozen expanse of Lake St Moritz. Then there’s the climate: sure, it’s sub-zero for much of the season, but the area actually enjoys around 300 days of sunshine each year. So when Marco Makaus first envisioned The ICE as long ago as 1985, you can understand why he factored in that the odds of decent weather were pretty much in his favour.

After a trial event in 2019 had proven the concept, full editions in 2022 and ’23 were a resounding success. The combination of a carefully curated, limited selection of mobile masterpieces, their pampered paintwork contrasting so vividly against the snowy backdrop and azure skies as they powered across the lake in a dynamic display of automotive hedonism, granted The ICE instant bucket-list status.

As for the esteemed jury, they simply went about their usual task of inspecting and selecting five class winners, before debating which would be crowned Best in Show

As for the esteemed jury, they simply went about their usual task of inspecting and selecting five class winners, before debating which would be crowned Best in Show

For all the car enthusiasts – and that includes the owners, sponsors and organisers – the forced cancellation of all activity out on the lake this year was bitterly disappointing. There’s just no way around that fact. However, The ICE is primarily a Concours of Elegance – the clue’s in the name; a gathering of beautiful and extremely rare cars. For 2024, it just happened to take place inside the stark concrete setting of the multi-storey Serletta parking garage instead. For ticket holders, it was some consolation at least to see the cars up close, albeit only as muted and static museum pieces.

As for the esteemed jury, they simply went about their usual task of inspecting and selecting five category winners, before debating which car would be crowned Best in Show. Judging this year was a stellar line-up of automotive experts and esteemed personalities, comprising Marco Makaus, Richard Adatto, Massimo Delbò, Mathias Doutreleau, Vanessa Marçais, Sir Norman Foster, St Moritz Mayor Christian Jott Jenny, Michele Lupi, Philip Rathgen, Augustin Sabatié-Garat and Rolf Sachs. 

The list of rarities on display this year included one-offs and concept cars such as the breath-taking 1954 Pegaso Z102 Series II, the Pininfarina-designed Autobianchi A112 Giovani and the mid-engined Audi Sport Quattro Group S prototype rally car, which would have put on a sensational dynamic show, no doubt. Winner of the category, though, was the epitome of 1970s fast origami, the otherworldly Aston Martin Bulldog first shown in 1979.

The Barchettas on the Lake class included two Ferraris – a 750 Monza and a 500 TR – a Siata 300 BC, an OSCA MT4 1100 and a Porsche 550 RS. Charming the judges most on this occasion was an ultra-rare 1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport. Coming out on top in the six-car Open Wheels class, which included a Ferrari 156 ‘Sharknose’, was the 1962 Cooper Maserati T81 originally owned by the Swiss driver Joakim Bonnier. From a long list of Racing Legends that included the wonderfully intimidating Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG and two Alpine A220s, it was the double Le Mans-winning 1963 Ferrari 275 P chassis 0816 that emerged victorious.

Competition in the Icons on Wheels class was fierce, with a stunning 250 GT SWB California Spyder (just one of several outstanding Ferraris), a 1973 Lamborghini Miura SV and a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT, to mention just a few, all fighting it out for second place. Winning the class, and being awarded Best in Show, was Fritz Burkard’s most imposing, multiple award-wining 1938 Delage D8-120S.

While activities on the lake were off limits, it’s also fair to say the spirit of The ICE St Moritz continued unaffected. It’s a small, intimate world for the collectors and owners of these machines. There’s a palpable sense of family, uniting around a shared passion for good times, fine food and very fine automobiles. And they know how to have fun, with some taking the opportunity to get out and play anyway.

Whether it was British YouTuber Tim Burton aka Shmee150 in his Mercedes towing an adrenalin junkie on the snow, the impossibly pretty Porsche 550 RS from the Barchetta class slow-drifting around the icy entrance of the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski, or a glamorous couple playing snow taxi in a Bentley Continental GTC – in St Moritz, fun finds a way.

1955 Porsche 550 RS, a Barchettas on the Lake class entrant, out playing in the snow.

So yes, the experience for most wasn’t at all what was hoped for, but the show went on – along with all the other reasons to visit this idyllic winter wonderland: the geographic setting, shopping, skiing, dining and partying. With a year of bad weather behind us now, the odds are stacked again in Marco’s (and our) favour for next year.

All that’s left to say is this final line from the organisers: “The ICE community is ready to return in 2025, with even more passion and motivation.” There’s no doubt that weather-prediction apps will be closely monitored, but given half a chance, we’ll gladly return.

Follow updates on the next edition of ICE St Moritz here.

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