The Concorso D’Eleganza Festival is possibly the most prestigious classic car event in the world. Held in the latter half of May, the festival is renowned as a plethora of prosperity, refinement and mechanical wonders. The event divided itself between two stunning hotels situated on the shores of Lake Como.
The grounds of the first, the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este, showcases an array of Historic Cars which have been built between 1920 and 1980. Although some elements of this part of the festival are exclusive to invited guests, the public also play a huge role; their applause and votes will be the deciding factor in the most traditional prize of the Concours, the Coppa d’Oro, awarded to the most beautiful vehicle.
The exclusive panel of experts, led by President Lorenzo Ramaciotti, decide the Best in Show Prize, which is rewarded with the BMW Group Trophy; this award is judged on the criteria of an ‘extraordinary automobile which expresses beauty, passion and uniqueness.’ As a result, it’s pretty well-respected! In 2002, a Prize to the Contemporary Concept Car was introduced, which rewards the meshing together of archaic concepts and vibrant prospects. Other BMW awards involve the most sensitive restoration, the car driven from furthest away and the most exciting design.
The Historic Cars are initially organised into several categories. The Kings of the Road have included a 1928 Mercedes Benz 680S, a Hispano-Suiza and a Rolls Royce Wraith. Then you have the Aston Martin class, followed by the Thoroughbread class which has before hailed the presence of the BMW 328 and an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport, whilst the Transition class has seen the likes of the Bentley R-Type Continental, the Ferrari 500 Superfast and the Jaguar MK V11.
The Prancing Horse Vs Trident class is full of Maseratis and Ferraris, whilst California Dreamin’ says hello to Jaguars, Porches and Siatas. Finally, the Fiat 8 V and BMW M1 feature in Speed and Style, whilst the Lamborghini class speaks for itself and the MG Magnette K3 finds its home in the Racing Improves the Breed Class. As if this bounty of vehicular brilliance wasn’t enough, there are also shows for Concept Cars and Prototypes which have featured the Touring Superleggera before now, as well as a Motorcycle Concours for two-wheeler fans. Just like the Historic Car competitions, Motorcycles can be entered and judged by a jury of world class calibre.
The festival itself has been running since 1929, but after the post-war extravaganza in 1949 it sadly waned for many years. However, in the late 1990s the event was saved by BMW, as the brand whose automobile production was also born in ’29 became partners with the Concorso.
Nowadays the Concorso prides itself on its stunning setting, impeccable hospitality, perfect preservation of valuable vehicles, as well as its enthusiastic audience and international exposure. Above all, elegance is a priority for the event which sells itself on an essence of ‘authentic aristocracy.’ ‘Originality’ is another word which is repetitively and feverishly uttered in relation to the festival, as it really does stand in its own league compared to other historic car events, by replacing commercial interest with a ‘spirit of nobility.’
On the Friday evening, the gates of Villa Erba, another exquisite Como hotel, will traditionally open with a screening at the open-air cinema. The ‘Days of Elegance’, involving themed exhibitions of important vehicles (Germany’s oldest aircraft, the Klemm L25 has even headlined before), will take place on Saturday and Sunday at the same location. In addition, the entrants and their cars will parade in front of the public at Villa Erba on Sunday. Things also get spiced up with a ‘Street Run’ of historic motorcycles! For those with plushly lined purses, there is a spectacular auction of vehicles which also takes place over the course of the weekend. Finally, a Gala Dinner with a ‘Dance the Night Away’ event crowns the weekend’s entertainment with iridescent glamour.
Cernobbio leaps to life every year for the Concorso D’Eleganza Festival, which boasts an enviable spectacle of classic wealth which any car lover would jump to indulge in. With the results of the 2013 Roll of Honour having been very recently announced, it’s time to look forward to the 2014 edition of a festival which identifies itself by Andre Malreux’s famous quote ‘If you want to design the future, you must leaf through the past.’
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