MMR Blog

Sandy On Assignment: A New Tradition begins

Posted on December 23, 2014 Comments (1)

... for the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

1939 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster, Best of Show, First Place

The 1939 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster takes Best of Show as First Place in the Trophy Division

If it’s November in Florida, the winter motorsports season is about to begin! Already steeped in tradition, with spectators soaring to 80,000, I could not imagine how this jewel within the motorsports world could get any better. Now in its 13th year, the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance has matured from its early days when it was known as “the Best Street Show in the country”, as shared with me by founder, Bob Tallgren.

356 Porsche display

The 356 Porsche contingent was well represented this year. Photo courtesy Alex Dearborn

I was rather intrigued by the history surrounding this particular Concours. The inaugural Winter Park show came about as a request from city officials who wanted to re-energize the downtown Park Avenue shopping area. Ferrari was the Honored Marque that first year with 30 or so Ferraris turning out – including a 1957 250 GT Tour de France. The scene on Winter Park’s downtown Park Avenue was virtually “wall to wall” people from the very beginning. With over 25,000 spectators that first year, there were lines outside every restaurant. City officials were ecstatic!

The success formula for the show’s first year has remained constant, as Bob Tallgren shared with me during this year’s concours. The show’s hallmark became the high quality of its cars – both restored and unrestored. The original intent to invite 150 cars, judged by highly respected judges, remains today.

1968 Bizzarrini Spyder S.I. Targa

The 1968 Bizzarrini Spyder S.I. Targa took both Best of Show as First Place in the Open Division and First Place in the Special Interest Class

1957 Bentley S-1 Saloon

Taking both First Place in the European Classics division and the Judges Award is this 1957 Bentley S-1 Saloon by Hooper

The show continued to build momentum for the next few years. The overall genre of the show evolved from a collection of exotic road cars to a more “all inclusive” Concours d’Elegance, bringing more of the elegant classic American cars into the mix along with some of the distinguished European marques.

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan

Collector of the Year, Steve Wolf’s 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan. Photo courtesy Bill Rothermel

This year’s Concours honored three distinct marques: Mercedes Benz as the Honored Marque; Maserati for its 100th anniversary; and, Mustang for celebrating 50 years. The Collector of the Year honoree, Steve Wolf started his collection over 50 years ago and continues his dedication to the car hobby and vehicle preservation.

Today’s Concours is a true Weekend of Motoring Events, beginning with the highly touted Friday evening duPont Registry Live aeroport reception for charity. I can honestly say that this ‘hangar party’ is one of the best, if not the best I’ve attended. As part of the reception, the Battle of the Heavyweights allows guests to take a high-speed ride for charity on the Sanford airport runway with a professional driver. Guests also mingle amongst cars, motorcycles and jets in uniquely themed private hangars with just as unique entertainment.

Tour owners mingle at Winter Park

Owners mingle before leaving on the Tour d’Elegance

The Saturday morning Tour d’Elegance is considered by many to be the heart and soul of the weekend. It is an event where participants can exercise their cars and see some of the back roads of Central Florida. The day starts in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square for a gourmet breakfast. Like the aeroport reception the night before, this is also a ticketed event. It is my weekend favorite. Publicized as a relaxed driving event, I always find myself turning it into a mini-rally, pedal to the metal ... after the police escort falls back!

The 1967 Maserati Quattroporte Sedan, a local favorite, was awarded the Historical Vehicle Association award

Each year, a respected and distinguished automotive expert joins Head Judge, Pete Bartelli and the 50-member judging cadre, as the Concours Grand Marshal. Ed Gilbertson, this year’s Grand Marshal lead the judging team to select the 2014 Winter Park Preservation Award and the HVA/FIVA Award.

If you have been to Carmel during Monterey Week and Thursday’s Display on the Avenue, you know how crowded a street show can get, not to mention nerve wracking for the car owners. By it’s tenth year, the streets in Winter Park were overflowing with cars and crowds working their way onto the curbs. The city’s Parks and Recreation Board had approved the use of a grassy area in Central Park for the awards ceremony and special display area, but the Concours still needed more space.

1960 Porsche 356B

First Place in the Porsche 356 Division went to Lee Payne and his 1960 356B Roadster. Photo courtesy Alex Dearborn

1963 AC V-8 Prototype Roadster

In the British Class, the 1963 AC V-8 Prototype Roadster took First Place in the Rest of Britain category

1954 Cisitalia 33 DF Voloradente Coupe

One of my favorites, this 1954 Cisitalia 33 DF Voloradente Coupe

Early on in the show’s beginnings, organizers had their eye on the Winter Park Country Club Golf Course, a venue which would allow cars to spread out, so to speak. The New Tradition began this year, with tremendous success, as the 2014 Concours moved to the Winter Park Country Club Golf Course, just down the street from Park Avenue. Celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year, the golf course is a wonderful venue where today’s Executive Director, Tim Webber is able to expand the event and make it quite special for participants and spectators.

1964 Alfa Romeo Guia Spider Veloce Convertible

The WPC Spirit Award went to this 1964 Alfa Romeo Guia Spider Veloce Convertible

This year, motorsports historian Bill Rothermel was featured during the awards ceremony to add a commentary on each one of the top award cars. Founder Bob Tallgren continues to share his vision for the Concours as judging classes expand and opportunities for car clubs develop.

Winter Park is unique in itself. Home to Rollins College just north of Orlando, this upscale community is a wonderful place to visit with the Concours as its backdrop. Besides Disney just minutes away, the area boasts some of Florida’s best cycling trails and shopping! Held the third weekend of November, the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance has an eye to the future.


Sandy on Assignment: London’s Concours of Elegance…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (1)

A weekend with a Prince!

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring -- Flying Star -- takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

To walk among sixty of the world’s rarest historic cars, exclusively invited to participate in London’s Concours of Elegance was magnificent. To be in the presence of a Prince while doing so was extraordinary!

I was planning a trip to Germany; right about the time RM’s London auction was to take place. Without a moment’s hesitation, I adjusted my plans for a two-day stop over in London and a chance to attend RM’s eighth annual London auction. It was a great opportunity to watch my favorite auctioneer and RM’s European Managing Director, Max Girardo. Just as exciting, was discovering a new motorsports gem… London’s Concours of Elegance.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

Now in its third year, the UK’s budding international concours, uniquely held at a different Royal Palace each year, is definitely making its mark… not only among the motorsports elite, but with the public, as well. Held the first weekend of September, this event is the ultimate motorsports English garden party.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

On Sunday, I attended the gardens of one of London’s spectacular palaces, Hampton Court, home to not only the sixty concours cars but cars from many UK car clubs and specialty car tours, as well as something unique… the “Talking Concours”, a staged area featuring interviews with greats from the car world.

The inaugural event of the Concours took place in 2012 within the private grounds of Windsor Castle to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee of reign. The second Concours of Elegance was held at the Royal Palace of St. James, last year.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Although Hampton Court Palace has not been home to the British Royal Family since the 18th century, its grandeur stands out among world Royal Palaces. It is best remembered as Henry the VIII’s favorite royal residence. Nearly 200 years later, William III and Mary II embarked on a massive expansion of the Palace, which included the grounds enjoyed during this year’s Concours.

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone and Webb Coupe

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone & Webb Coupe

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

Much like Villa d’Este, the Concours of Elegance differs from traditional concours where a ‘winning’ car is selected by a panel of judges. The Concours of Elegance organizers maintain that if a car has been invited to participate in the Concours, it is already a winner. On Saturday, each of the sixty Concours participants casts their vote for the vehicle they consider the most elegant, thus Best of Show. During an exclusive dinner Saturday evening in King Henry VIII’s Great Dining Hall at Hampton Court Palace, Concours Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent presented this year’s Best of Show to the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo made its concours debut in 1931 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where, accompanied by the model Josette Pozzo, it won the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este trophy. It has been winning accolades and trophies ever since.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

Spectators to the Concours of Elegance, reached well over 10,000 this year. Voting for a first time award… the Public Choice winner was awarded to a rare alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe, number 19 of only 29 alloy Gullwings built.

First owned by Italian gentleman racer Dottore Alberico Cacciari, this car was the only alloy-bodied 300 SL to compete in the 1956 and 1957 Mille Miglias, with Cacciari driving. The car appeared at Hampton Court, just as it raced in 1956, with its 452 racing numbers, and original tool kit and factory-fitted luggage.

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

So there I was, wandering among the beautiful cars and beautiful gardens in awe of the Palace when the Patron of the Concours of Elegance drove by. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent accompanied by his lovely wife, the Princess, was admiring the cars and speaking with owners and vendors throughout the day.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

So which palace is up next for this prestigious concours? With the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, the 2015 Concours of Elegance will be held at the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

Moved last year to coincide with the Concours of Elegance, RM Auctions concluded its European auction calendar on Monday, with its London auction at Battersea Evolution. While pouring over one of the Jaguars during the preview just prior to the start of the auction, I started talking with a gentleman and his son. You just never know who you’ll meet at a RM auction! To my astonishment, he introduced himself as the previous owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which I had seen a year ago at the Goodwood Revival and this year at the Mille Miglia. To know me, is to know I adore transporters. I was tickled!

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting in the second row, right in front of Max was definitely the highlight of the weekend! The crowd was very international with 35 countries represented in the room. We watched as the hammer went down on the final bid of $8,119,188 for the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ and $3,266,340 for the rare 1966 Ferrari GTB Alloy, and $1,959,804 for the highly original 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. We were in awe watching the sales sore to $36,348,733 US dollars. Another whirlwind motorsports weekend was over… as the final hammer went down.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 12, 2014 Comments (0)

We have turned the corner on summer and many of our favorite viewing activities are either in the final events in their series or already shutting down for the season.

IndyCar is done. NASCAR begins its 10 race Chase to choose a Champion. The Tudor United Sportscar Championship has two weekends remaining. The finale is a 10 hour Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on October 4-5.


The Boston Cup

The Car Show season winds up in the Northeast with The Boston Cup event on the Boston Common on September 21st. See you there.


In this issue of The Weekly LeekStreaming the Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism, Professor Prosser has scooped the poop on the latest Papal pronouncement. In the best Rocky & Bullwinkle tradition: Don’t miss the next exciting episode of Lewis Whines a New Title! or Papal Palace Promotes Pals!


Sandy (on Assignment) Cotterman visited the Hershey Concourse and her images and story inform this week’s Newsletter.


Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.

Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.


F1

In short, the Tifosi (Ferrari fanatics) were disappointed, again. Mercedes dominated, again. The Nico/Lewis battle for hearts and minds continues and many hopes for the future are pinned on the return of Honda engines. As everyone knows by now, Hamilton won and Rosberg appeared to have given it to him. Conspiracy theories abound.

Mark Hughes of MotorSport magazine credits the win more to a difference in driving styles and car set-ups than to a huge driver error under pressure. The podium ceremony was very interesting (who was that animated interviewer?) as were the post race interviews. Hamilton still has a hill to climb and the next six races will be fun for viewers.

Monza in both its original configuration, which included a high banked oval, and its modern configurations of long straights and fast curves has always advantaged the most powerful cars and the bravest drivers. A list of the talented and experienced drivers who lost their lives at Monza says it all: Ascari, von Trips, Rindt, Peterson, and on motorcycles, Saarinen and Pasolini. All among the very best of their times.

At one point, a portion of the banked oval was part of the course. In its later days, it was quite bumpy; its depiction in the film Grand Prix was quite accurate.

Today’s course, even with the new formula’s dumbed down engines, it is still amazingly fast but its challenge to drivers has changed to a challenge for engineers. Where a strong motor and a brave driver were requisites in the sixties, downforce packages, engine mapping, brake systems, brake balance settings and tire management all come in to play now and the engineer’s role dominates the outcome. That is not to denigrate today’s cars or their drivers. Quite the contrary. The Italian GP was a brilliant example of how different teams, dealing with different technical strengths and weaknesses and driver preferences, managed a fast and complex 90 minute race. An analysis of each car’s technical package would go a long way to explain the driver’s finishing position. It is possible to believe that the Monza results, two Mercedes followed by two Williams and two Red Bulls would be the same if those six driver’s names were put into a hat to choose who would drive which car. Could you seriously question the fact that Vettel, who finished sixth would have finished first, had he been driving a Mercedes?

It has been rumored that Ron Dennis is making the rounds of top talent agents to see if he can convince them that their charges can win the Driver’s Championship in a McLaren-Honda next year or the year after. For those of you unfamiliar, only Mercedes and Ferrari enter their own chassis-engine combo. Most teams design, build and develop their own chassis and purchase engines from either Mercedes or Ferrari or Renault. Each component is equally important and to believe that any team (McLaren) will be stronger next year with the advent of a new Honda engine says that engines are their current problem. The reality is that Mercedes (454 Points) Williams (177 points) McLaren (110 points) and Force India (109 points) all have Mercedes engines. What they don’t have is a Mercedes chassis. On the other hand, Red Bull (272 points) is second in the series and has a Renault engine reputed to be 90 horsepower down on the Mercedes and its own Adrian Newey designed chassis. It shares a Renault engine with the Lotus (8 points) and Caterham (0 points). Red Bull, second in the points is well ahead of the Mercedes powered Williams. It has the second best chassis after the Mercedes team and Williams has the next best chassis after Red Bull. For any driver to jump from Mercedes or Red Bull, or even Williams, to any other F1 team with a currently uncompetitive chassis and an unproven engine would be asking him to make a huge leap of faith. McLaren is a great team with great resources but so is Ferrari and both have a long way to go.

If we were building for the future, Bottas and Magnussen would be an interesting base.

Have a great weekend. Please share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


Sandy on Assignment: The Elegance at Hershey

Posted on September 11, 2014 Comments (0)

…America’s Automotive Garden Party

by Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

Imagine receiving a huge candy kiss as a trophy! It happens the second weekend in June in Hershey, Pennsylvania at The Elegance at Hershey. More than just a car show, The Elegance is an event wrapped around the motivation to bring the best of the best together; from the automotive arena, benefiting the determination to cure Juvenile Diabetes and also preserve our automotive heritage through the Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center. Before this year’s event tally, The Elegance had raised over a half-million dollars to support these causes, in just four years.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

Although an ocean apart, The Elegance is similar in many respects to what I would consider its European counterpart, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. An elegant, rather intimate automotive garden party, if you will, both events invite an exclusive small number of significant and historic cars. Many of the cars bring with them accolades and class wins from other esteemed show fields like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. At The Elegance, each car stands on its own merits the day of the event, to be judged using French judging criteria by a cadre of twenty-eight esteemed judges under the leadership of Dr. Paul Sable.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Renound Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Renowned Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Like Villa d’Este, the setting is magnificent. Sixty-four automobiles were judged, with the Hershey Hotel and its elegant English gardens, beautiful porticos and fountain ponds, as their backdrop. This year’s winner of the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este, collector Corrado Lopresto, sent over from Milan, Italy the most desirable of the Alfa Romeo 1900s… the 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato. Made specifically for racing, only 39 were made and this one had been left in a garage for 40 years until purchased by Lopresto in 2013. Awarded the Worn but not Forgotten award at The Elegance, the car remains in it’s unrestored state.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

The weekend at Hershey is very much steeped in motorsports tradition with The Grand Ascent, a revival of the historic Hershey hillclimb. In post World War II America, Pennsylvania was a hotbed for auto-racing and the concept of a hillclimb was the perfect event for the sports car enthusiast. One of the oldest forms of motorsports, with the first-known event taking place in France in 1897, the Hershey Hillclimb began in 1958 on the road to the rear of the Hershey Hotel. Held both Friday and Saturday during The Elegance weekend, I was mesmerized watching these vintage race cars traverse the heavily wooded hillside to set their individual times. At this year’s hillclimb, there were 36 registered entrants. Bring your camera and hiking shoes and walk the course, if it’s not too muddy! Daily admission is $10 with free parking. If you are up for one of those priceless experiences, for $50 you can get strapped in, helmet and all, as a passenger in one of the vintage race cars on the hillclimb!

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

After dodging the raindrops watching Friday’s hillclimb, an evening reception at the Antique Automobile Club of American Museum and its Library and Research Center was a wonderful opportunity to view another slice of Americana. I was particularly fascinated with the display of the “Alphabet Ford Collection”… and many exhibits of American automobilia. The AACC Museum is open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and highly recommended during The Elegance weekend.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

Saturday morning, we were treated to a private tour of the Rolls Royce Foundation and home to the historic display of Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars by Rubin Verdes, an officer of the Foundation, and Board Member Bill Rothermel. The small museum in Mechanicsburg, PA and restoration facilities are open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 am until 4 pm. In the afternoon, we decided to take in a bit of Hershey history. Coined the Sweetest City on Earth, the Hershey museum offered an amazing glimpse into the history of Hershey, Pennsylvania and visionary Milton S. Hershey. Next stop before heading back to the afternoon hillclimb, were the Hershey Gardens… a must.

Saturday morning, a 5K, Elegance Challenge takes place up the road of the hill climb. In the evening the fund-raiser dinner and charity auction takes place inside the Hershey Hotel, with this year’s Honorary Chairman, Robert Lutz, as guest speaker. There are also several other dinner opportunities within the Hershey Hotel, and surrounding area.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The atmosphere generated mostly by volunteers, during the entire Elegance weekend, is very welcoming to the public, as well as the esteemed owners and their guests. Beginning at 7 am Sunday morning, the vehicles begin moving onto the show gardens and by 9 am the vision founder John (Jack) Rich, Sr. had for the event is created… a car show that brings back the days of the original Concours held in Europe. Unique to The Elegance this year was an informative walking tour personalized to just about every show car, prior to the award presentations, by Master of Ceremonies and automotive historian, Bill Rothermel.

In addition to the candy-kiss trophies every entrant receives, thirty-six awards were presented representing excellence for their time period, as well as spirited and historic awards. Among many worthy American cars, there was an equal display of Italian, British, and French beauties.

Since The Elegance weekend offers much for spectators to enjoy, spouses and families included, I would bump this event up towards the top of the motorsports enthusiasts’ bucket list. It’s another gem in the world of Concours events.


Sandy on Assignment: Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este…

Posted on July 31, 2014 Comments (2)

…It’s the Arrival that Counts

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Corrado Lopresto with his Alfa, hands off the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este in front of Villa Erba.

Corrado Lopresto with his Alfa, hands off the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este in front of Villa Erba.

Before starting to write this article, something sparked my curiosity. I began scrolling down past Sandy on Assignments and there they were… images of the very same cars I had just seen in Italy! It got me thinking. Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is not so much about winning… it’s about having arrived.

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este from Lake Como.

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este from Lake Como.

Going into this event, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Although hovering at the top of many enthusiasts bucket list, this event is private… a tribute to the world’s most celebrated automobiles and their owners and guests. I am speaking of Saturday at Villa d’Este, the ultimate motorsports garden party… an elegant affair for Concours level collectors, many of whom have already defined their success at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Cavallino, and other European Concours, prior to gathering on the luxurious grounds of the Hotel Villa d’Este located in the quaint city of Cernobbio, northern Italy, on the shores of Lake Como. It is a weekend to enjoy themselves with their guests and mingle among their motorsports peers.

Friday afternoon scrutineering check-in at Villa d’Este.

Friday afternoon scrutineering check-in at Villa d’Este.

Friday check-in. The Trofeo Auto & Design prize for the most exciting design will go to this 1953 Maserati, A6GCS, Berlinetta, Pinin Farina.

Friday check-in. The Trofeo Auto & Design prize for the most exciting design will go to this 1953 Maserati, A6GCS, Berlinetta, Pinin Farina.

We wandered the grounds of Villa d’Este Friday afternoon, as the 51 exceptional and historic automobiles were arriving for the weekend and going through their initial check-in, a sort of scrutineering before heading down into the Hotel’s parking garage. We were excited to see several of the cars from this year’s Mille Miglia. So where were we on Saturday when this beauty pageant of automobiles, as the organizers define it, was taking place? On the ferry crisscrossing Lake Como, soaking in the breathtaking scenery of this beautiful lake with its seaside Villas… getting a glimpse of the event from a different vantage point!

The cars leave Villa d’Este early Sunday morning to line up here, on the lawn at Villa Erba.

The cars leave Villa d’Este early Sunday morning to line up here, on the lawn at Villa Erba.

Sunday, we attended the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, same name and same cars but the ‘sister’ event as I call it, which is open to the general public, on the grounds of neighboring Villa Erba. Also referred to as the Concours of Historic Cars, Sunday’s event, still lovely, is definitely not to be confused with… the real thing.

Open to the general public, Sunday’s Concorso at Villa Erba.

Open to the general public, Sunday’s Concorso at Villa Erba.

The Concorso was the other bookend to our two week stay in Italy and a wonderful opportunity to tie in a car event if you are anywhere in Italy the fourth weekend in May. After the start of the Mille Miglia, we headed out of Brescia to Sirmione on Lake Garda then down to Portofino and on to the Cinque Terra villages for several days, before visiting friends outside of Torino, another motorsports mecca and home to the Museo Nazionale Dell’Automobile in Turin. Going into our trip, I knew we would not be able to attend the private Concorso on Saturday, so it wasn’t a surprise, yet it may be to others heading off to this adventure. Plan accordingly.

The Concorso is steeped in Italian history. It was back on September 1, 1929 that over eighty entries from Italian and foreign car and coach builders and private owners were invited to Villa d’Este to take part in a contest to judge the beauty of what had become the most common means of transportation and leisure of the time. The publication, La Gazzetta dello Sport best described that first event in 1929, which is pretty much the same today. “All of motoring aristocracy will be required to parade before a cosmopolitan aristocratic audience gathered at Villa d’Este – a public that knows how to appreciate beauty – in this artistic contest of which the victor stands to win an exceptional prize: a solid Gold Cup, which in addition to its actual material worth in gold, will also have an enormous moral value.” The Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este still coveted today, and selected by Saturday’s invited public , was awarded this year to Italian collector Corrado Lopresto and his stunning open car entered in the Gone with the Wind category – his 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider, Zagato/Aprile. It was one of my favorites at Pebble Beach in 2012 and was Best in Show at the Boca Raton Concours in 2013!

For the best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger by the Jury, the Trofeo Roeckl prize went to the 1922 Hispano Suiza, H6 B, Sedanca Landaulette, Chapron and owner Alexandre Schaufler.

For the best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger by the Jury, the Trofeo Roeckl prize went to the 1922 Hispano Suiza, H6 B, Sedanca Landaulette, Chapron and owner Alexandre Schaufler.

From the Mille Miglia two weeks prior to the Concorso, the 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC, Spider, Scaglietti is stunning, in front of Villa d’Este.

From the Mille Miglia two weeks prior to the Concorso, the 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC, Spider, Scaglietti is stunning, in front of Villa d’Este.

Harking back to the roaring twenties and the roots of the event 85 years ago, this year’s theme was The Great Gatsby. In true Concours d’Elegance fashion, entrants in The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind and Gentleman Driver classes were dressed the part! After the first four years of the original event, venue and organizational changes began to occur, even the name of the event changed over the next eight years. Like the Mille Miglia, the event was suspended over the war years. It was the Italian coach builders who re-initiated the event in 1947. Unfortunately, after the last Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was held with the new post-war vehicles in 1949, the industrialization affecting the coach building industry reached a crisis level, becoming so economically severe that the Concorso never took place again, in its original form. The event was basically forgotten for 40 years. Numerous attempts, with some success, were made to revive it between 1986 and 1997. At the end of the 1990s, the event attracted the attention of the BMW Group, which took sole responsibility as the patron of the Concorso between1990 to 2001. Since then, the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este and the BMW Group have jointly supported the event.

The Trofeo FIVA award went to the best preserved pre-war car, the 1908 Rolls-Royce, Silver Ghost, Roi des Belges, Barker.

The Trofeo FIVA award went to the best preserved pre-war car, the 1908 Rolls-Royce, Silver Ghost, Roi des Belges, Barker.

Maserati Class winner, the 1929 Maserati, V4Sport, Spider Zagato.

Maserati Class winner, the 1929 Maserati, V4Sport, Spider Zagato.

This year, the Concorso was also paying tribute to the 110-year anniversary of Rolls-Royce, which debuted its models at the Paris Auto Salon in December 1904 and the anniversary of the legendary victory of the Mini in the Monte Carlo Rally 40 years ago. Another highlight was the centenary of Italian sports car maker Maserati. A relatively new addition to the Concorso Villa d’Este is the Concorso di Motociclette, with an array of 35 historically significant motorcycles. Also on display at Villa Erba were six concept cars and prototypes… quite the eye-candy.

For the most sensitive restoration, the Trofeo BMW Classic prize went to the 1936 Lancia, Astura Type 233, Cabriolet, Pinin Farina and owner Orin Smith with restorer Richard Gorman at his side.

For the most sensitive restoration, the Trofeo BMW Classic prize went to the 1936 Lancia, Astura Type 233, Cabriolet, Pinin Farina and owner Orin Smith with restorer Richard Gorman at his side.

As you can imagine, this is a who’s who of motorsports, so it wasn’t surprising to see several familiar faces. Collector and vintage race driver Andreas Mohringer from Austria, ever gracious and always willing to share anything you would like to know about his cars, was there with his 1957 Maserati 150 GT Prototype, which I had seen drive onto the fairway at Amelia to make its debut in 2013! Collector Orin Smith from Florida brought his 1936 Lancia, Astura Type 233, Cabriolet, Pinin Farina, which I had witnessed make its debut at Pebble Beach in 2012. Norman Dewis was front and center during the tech check-in next to the 1952 Jaguar XK 120, in which he had made the famous high speed run (172.412 MPH) on the Jabbeke/Ostend Route in Belgium in October 1953. A small select group of vendors were invited to Sunday’s event. Friend to MMR, the Suixtil historic clothing line was very popular.

The Concorso de Motociclette had its own award program in the same spirit of a Concorso d’Eleganza.

The Concorso de Motociclette had its own award program in the same spirit of a Concorso d’Eleganza.

If you are thinking of checking this event off your bucket list, I would suggest making Lake Como and all it has to offer your destination. Attending Sunday’s event at Villa Erba will be the icing on the cake! If you have a historic, concours ready vehicle, treat yourself and apply for an exclusive entry to Saturday and the weekend’s events! Getting to Cernobbio from anywhere around Lake Como, or northern Italy for that matter, is very easy. Entrants are guests at the Hotel Villa d’Este. For everyone else, available lodging anywhere in the immediate vicinity to Villa d’Este is booked months in advance and the rates inflated during this week. I would suggest doing your homework and staying at one of the quaint B&B style homes on the water, within an hour’s drive. We stayed on the eastern side of the Lake and the early Sunday morning drive was about 45 minutes. Once in Cernobbio, we followed the signs to P1 and P4 for parking, as there is none on the grounds of Villa Erba. Parking is a mere six euros and entry to Sunday’s Concours another 14 euros, a bargain for this prestigious event!

Spectators at Villa Erba enjoyed both a parade of automobiles and fashion models, all in the spirit of this magnificent Concorso d’Eleganza weekend!

Spectators at Villa Erba enjoyed both a parade of automobiles and fashion models, all in the spirit of this magnificent Concorso d’Eleganza weekend!

Once on the grounds of Villa Erba we walked between the show field, with glistening Lake Como as its backdrop and the staging area with open seating, to watch the car parade and awards presentation taking place early afternoon. Pictures speak louder than words, so I hope you get a feel for this magnificent weekend.