Concorso d’Eleganza de Villa d’Este

Aaah, the shores of Lake Como, sights of Rivas in the water, sipping on Campari-Oranges and hoping to spot George Clooney.

Aaah, the shores of Lake Como, sights of Rivas in the water, sipping on Campari-Oranges and hoping to spot George Clooney wandering around comes to mind when you talk about Como and Villa d’Este, home of the Concorso d’Eleganza de Villa d’Este.

Yet once a year it’s the spot of what is considered one of the most prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza’s in the world located at the terrace of this leading resort hotel. Due to its “small” available space the event will only accept 50 classic cars in the show and a concept car class just to keep the level extremely high.

For this reason it’s always a treat to see what the strict selection committee has allowed through the gates in what every year are different types of classes, partially depending on anniversaries, but always a good and interesting mix of pre-war, post war and racing cars. Since there are no traditionally defined classes for some of the owners it might be a bit of shock to see how strong their competitors might turn out to be. This year, for instance, the Gentlemen’s Racers – Speed Meets Post-War Style — featured no less than three top Ferraris, two Maseratis, a Pegaso and an OttoVu, each of which would look really well in my personal dream garage!

Although the event is spread out over two days and two different locations , there are also three Best in Shows.

The first day cars are featured in the garden and terrace of this old splendid hotel. Here you can casually wander in between the cars while enjoying the beautiful scenery and looking at the elegantly dressed ladies. All the cars are already judged and every single one has to drive in front of the select audience, but all that is awarded are special awards and the Best in Show chosen by the spectators.

The next morning all cars take a short drive toward Villa Erba just 1 kilometer down the road into the next private property, which features a large park so that the general  crowd can come in and enjoy the show. All the automobiles need to parade over the red carpet, escorted by a few lovely models in haute couture dresses, and here the car owners receive word regarding who has won first in class and again a Best in Show chosen by today’s visitors.

There’s also a special award that’s selected by a group of children on what car they like the must.

This year both visitors’ and children’s award went to, and perhaps not entirely surprising, the one-off 1952 Pegaso “Cupula” Coupe from the Louwman Museum in The Netherlands. After all, it’s after all the car with the biggest wowfactor on the field. You can hardly miss a fly-yellow car with red-wall tyres from an extravagant carrossier.

The final award, Best in Show by the Jury, is only announced later in the evening back at Villa d’Este Hotel after the gala dinner where all the first in classes line-up by the water and after a spectacular fireworks show the winner is announced: the 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Zagato.

If you would like to see that fireworks, well, all you need to do then is try to get a car accepted for next year!

Oh, and for all the ladies, there was no George Clooney in sight, they had to settle with Orlando Bloom.

Photography by Dirk de Jager

Dirk De Jager
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