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1936 Bentley to Ferrari Berlinatta: Visit the world's rarest car show

The Villa d'Este concours started as a way for automakers to show new cars to prospective buyers and to celebrate winning racecars in town from Milan and a Munich

Bloomberg 

The 1953 OSCA MT4 1450, a rare marque developed in 1947 by the Maserati family
The 1953 OSCA MT4 1450, a rare marque developed in 1947 by the Maserati family

For those fatigued by the hordes populating the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, here’s a new goal: The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, a multi-day show and promenade held annually on the shores of Lake Como, Italy.

Boats on display on Lake Como, including boats made by the Italian builder Riva, which is known for its historic wooden boats and yachts. George Clooney famously owns a home just up the shoreline
Boats on display on Lake Como, including boats made by the Italian builder Riva, which is known for its historic wooden boats and yachts. George Clooney famously owns a home just up the shoreline. Photo: Bloomberg
Sponsored primarily by and the German watchmaker A. Lange & Sohne, the concourse displays 50 of the most expensive and beautiful collectible cars in the world from 1925 to today. These are the blue-bloods of the car world, like a 1936 4 ¼ Litre, a 1960 250 GT Berlinetta, a 1985 — plus a Lamborghini driven by Princess Grace and a BMW roadster owned by Elvis Presley.

A group of cars at the Villa d'Este concours. The one in the centre front is a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4-particularly rare since it is finished in a 'Nocciola' (hazelnut) livery
A group of cars at the Villa d’Este concours. The one in the centre front is a 1967 275 GTB/4—particularly rare since it is finished in a ‘Nocciola’ (hazelnut) livery. Photo: Bloomberg


The Villa d’Este concours started as a way for automakers to show new cars to prospective buyers and to celebrate winning racecars in town from and a Munich. Now it is perhaps the most stunningly arranged car show in the world, with the historic Grand Hotel Villa d’Este mansion as its backdrop, and prices for the value of most of the cars on display nearing or surpassing $1 million each. And that tally excludes the few lucky one-of-one modern creations that earned the right to be parked in such rarefied air as well. Those included the $12.5 million La Voiture Noire and the priceless BMW Garmisch, which was created as an homage after a lost BMW concept car from 1970. Tickets for Saturday’s private viewing event starting at Euro 490 ($550) per person.

The BMW Garmisch. The car has a mysterious history: after debuting at the Geneva Auto Show in 1970, the original model was loaded on to a train bound for the HQ in Munich - but never reached its destination. Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: BloombergThe BMW Garmisch. The car has a mysterious history: after debuting at the Geneva Auto Show in 1970, the original model was loaded on to a train bound for the HQ in Munich — but never reached its destination. Photo: Bloomberg


The cars were displayed over the course three days on the lawn of the Villa d’Este and the Villa Erba estate grounds. Guests from France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, England, South Africa, Japan and beyond wore summer suits with straw boaters and floral dresses with wedged heels while they took photos of the cars and sipped champagne.

The 1970 Ferrari 512 S Modulo. Photo: Bloomberg
The 1970 512 S Modulo. Photo: Bloomberg


Late afternoon rains slowed some of the ladies in the highest heels, but not our photographer. Here is a look at the best of what we saw.

Entrants driving an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport2010. Photo: Bloomberg
Entrants driving an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport2010. Photo: Bloomberg



First Published: Fri, May 31 2019. 22:20 IST