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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.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 6, 2014 Comments (0)

June! Glorious June!

Our June calendar lists a favorite racing city party and Le Mans.

Our images this week are from the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, taken by Editor Dom Miliano and me. Michael Furman’s feature image is that of a 1933 Squire front.

1933 Squire photo by Michael Furman

IndyCar and Detroit Both Survive

In the recent past, images of Detroit have been anything but pretty. But news from the Motor City has been much better of late. People who care about the city, including Roger Penske, have contributed energy and money to make things happen. The American never say die and we can do this attitudes are prevailing. Property values are rising, and neighborhood by neighborhood there is a resurgence of small businesses and community spirit. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are doing well and doing good by investing in their own local infrastructure. Ironically, the same word applies to this turnaround as to the iconic downtown development that was once heralded as its salvation and later criticized as the reason for its ruin. Renaissance. 

Penske Racing is based in Detroit and The Captain has been the driving force and sponsor behind the two day IndyCar races held on Belle Isle, a park island just off Detroit’s downtown. This is another barrier bound street course and its physical condition mirrors Detroit’s finances. It is to be hoped that both will improve. Penske cars won both bumpy races and as bumpy races go it was entertaining. The talented Will Power drove to a solid win on Saturday and the equally talented Helio Castroneves won on Sunday. The close racing on a tight bumpy course made for the inevitable contact and bad feelings and the soap opera is now part of the IndyCar show.

F1 in Montreal this Weekend

The Grand Prix of Canada takes place in Montreal this weekend. Montreal is a great party city and the F1 team sponsors decorate the town squares with product and race car displays. The race track itself is both simple and boring. The F1 community has a speak no evil policy to which all adhere. A boring track is called technical by drivers. This infers that they don’t think it is as boring we do. Named after native son Gilles Villeneuve, it is essentially a park service road on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and in full view of downtown Montreal. Coming off the tight Monaco circuit, this track allows for more passing. It is one of Hamilton’s favorite circuits and he has won here several times. That insures that the Mercedes drama will continue.

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance

Dom and I attended the Greenwich Concours this past weekend. The setting, a wooded park on the Long Island Sound is magnificent. Sadly, the view of the water is blocked by the huge Bonham’s Auction tent installation. The show cars are set out in circular compounds among the trees and while I had heard complaints about this, I found it interesting and not at all a negative issue. The actual selection of cars on display was eclectic and interesting. The whole atmosphere is casual and owners of cars on display seemed more accessible and engaging. 

Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

The Bonhams Auction was a huge success and the pricing on market leading cars did not disappoint. An early Flat Floor E-Type Jaguar sold for $335K and an XK-150S did $203,500. The crowd cheered a local bidder who purchased John Fitch’s Phoenix in part to keep it in Connecticut. This is a good thing. No bubble burst here.

Uncommon Ferraris

A Connecticut resident brought his Carbon Fiber race car to the Greenwich Concours. We thought you might be interested in seeing its pretty sister and the Forghieri-designed original.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend. It’s how we grow.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on April 25, 2014 Comments (0)

An Apology

Constant Contact is our MMR Newsletter distributor. Last Friday, a power outage affected their ability to supply images for our newsletter for over six hours. We apologize to our subscribers for this inconvenience.

F1 China

It has become clear that the new F1 cars come pre-sorted with a set of characteristics that cannot be tuned out. Drivers have to adapt to them or perish. The drivers for the Mercedes team seem quite equal in talent and also seem to have adapted to the car’s idiosyncrasies equally. That doesn’t mean that another driver might not do better, but we would never know until one tries. The Red Bull Team on the other hand is a different situation. Sebastian Vettel was the master of the previous chassis and his then teammate Mark Webber never got it to the same extent. But Vettel definitely hasn’t come to terms with the new chassis. The problem for him is that his new Red Bull teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, has. To the team, this means that the issues to be overcome are not so much the car, though it does need improvement, it is helping their #1 driver adapt to it. And to his credit, Vettel admits he is the problem. If he can resolve this problem he will come out of this not just a better driver but a different person.

Our lead image this week is from Denise McCluggage's column. Her story this week compares today’s cars with a time when a racing driver’s input was necessary to maximize the car's potential. You can also visit her website where you can see more Denise McCluggage images for sale. The remainder of the eye-candy on this page is from this year's Amelia Concours event. Enjoy!

Blue Highways

America is blessed with some wonderful and sometimes little used back roads. As more and better freeways are built for our transportation needs, these blue highways, as they are defined on most maps, are becoming the purview of car enthusiasts exercising cars that were probably built in the same time period. In Europe, the historic Mille Miglia is a huge affair for both spectators and participants and in America the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000 and the Copperstate are rallies giving drivers an opportunity to celebrate and exercise their vintage vehicles in the company of like minded individuals in beautiful settings. In the coming weeks we will have a report on the Mille Miglia from participant and MMR Newsletter subscriber Bruce Male. We will further explore this expanding form of motorsports entertainment and whether it can fit in your plans. So stay tuned.

At the Track and on TV

The Mitty (as in Walter Mitty) is fast establishing itself as the premier event of the vintage racing scene in America and it is this weekend at Road Atlanta. While not quite ready for prime time TV yet, if you are in that area, make the time to refresh your memories of great cars of our past. On the more contemporary front, IndyCar is at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama this weekend. This is the first race of this year on a proper road racing circuit and it will be interesting.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on March 28, 2014 Comments (0)

This week we cover the final day of the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. As ever, the event was memorable and we hope we have conveyed the experience that awaits those of you who have never been. Consider driving your favorite vehicle to Amelia next year.

Brett Lemoine, MGB enthusiast, member of The Boston Cup management team and budding photographer won our Amelia Photo Contest and several of his images are featured this week. Brett wins a copy of Michael Furman’s most recent book Automotive Jewelry. Congratulation Brett! Well done!

Denise

Denise McCluggage thanks you all for your good wishes and advises that she is getting stronger by the day. Her comments last week on the “green drive” in F1 struck a responsive chord.

Peter Brock writes:

Denise… what a fantastic, beautiful column on F1. Bravo! The incredible stupidity of trying to cram opposing philosophies into a subject like racing started creeping into our sport a few years ago when the ALMS tried going green… It’s never been satisfying and the additional effort to make it all “fair” by “performance balancing” has made it even worse. Since when is it right to penalize success for superior skill, strategy and innovation? Your coda on hearing really made a point as well… I’ve lost about 40% of my hearing, so your comment on hearing aids really resonated… what I miss most is music. Best, Peter Brock

Brian Redman writes:

Great article Denise! Costco have great hearing aids—under $2,000 for the pair! All the best, Brian

Evi & Dan Gurney write:

Hello Denise, we read your perceptive and beautiful piece on the present Formula 1 scene, could not agree with you more but cannot express it as nicely as you did. Lots of love, Evi and Dan

On that note we ask: Is it unreasonable to believe that the F1 establishment is terrified to hang its existence on the fact that F1 could be ENTERTAINING! Must racing have a redeeming social value to survive? 

Racing on TV

2014 Moto GP First Race – Yes! The Doctor IS in the House! At a night time race in Qatar (WHY?), Marquez and Honda won but the veteran Valentino Rossi was a close second on a Yamaha GP bike that was definitely not as quick as he made it. These guys really race.

NASCAR at Fontana. The Auto Club Speedway is a joke. IndyCar are courting a disaster if they go back.

F1 resumes at Malaysia this weekend and IndyCar is at St. Petersburg, Florida for their season opener. Check your local listings for times.

Last Week’s Leak

Several of you commented on the part of the Road to Amelia Article that mentioned the WASRED Ferrari’s leaky Targa top. A friend wrote:

Cars that leak in interesting ways can be entertaining. I think it was my black TC that dripped dripped dripped on my right foot. Then it would suddenly pee in a steady stream. Then nothing for a while. Could never figure out its pathway though.

BMW at Amelia

BMW was the dominant factor at this year’s Amelia event. The Gooding’s Auction offered a brace of them from a private collector, the Calder BME car that began the whole Cars as Art series was there. On Friday they offered a relatively small dinner to honor David Hobbs, one of their most successful drivers. See Dinner with Heroes. On Saturday, several of their successful ‘80s race cars dominated the Cars & Coffee event and on Sunday the same cars drew just as much attention. Bravo BMW! And thank you for doing it.

Your assistance is requested to grow our readership. You are our greatest source of new readers. Please share this with a friend and consider subscribing so you never miss a newsletter.

Have a great motorsports weekend.

Peter Bourassa



BMW Dinner with Heroes

Posted on March 27, 2014 Comments (0)

BMW hosted a small party on Friday Night at Amelia to honor David Hobbs. The guests were the press and other race drivers, some of whom actually drove BMWs. David was very successful driving their race cars in the ‘80s and he and his good friend Sam Posey, who have developed their own version of the Punch and Judy Show, supplied the end of evening entertainment. They were very funny. At the end of the evening all the drivers gathered for a very informal photo op and we thought you might enjoy these images.