The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and the accompanying Villa Erba auction put on yet another spectacular show at the weekend, with 11 cars selling for more than a million dollars, 34 of the 39 lots on offer sold, and an average sale price of $880,000 per car. While the auction was spectacular, the three day show across the adjacent villas was beyond spectacular in every respect, with the finest of Europe's vast automotive heritage on display.
The anticipated big money cars, being a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione (one of these fetched $8,140,000 at an RM auction in Arizona in January, 2013), and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider (estimated at €11,000,000 - €13,000,000) both failed to meet reserve, but a 1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta by Touring still flew the Ferrari flag to take top honors, selling for €6,720,000 ($7,398,653), moving comfortably into the top 100 most valuable cars ever sold at auction. Bidding on the Touring-bodied Barchetta opened at €3 million before quickly climbing to a new auction record for the model.
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The active participation of German companies in the classic car market (such as the Concours' major sponsor, BMW, and subsidiary Rolls-Royce) is paying dividends for German marques in general at present, as the above chart from Hagerty Insurance indicates, with BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and even the people's car Volkswagen appreciating faster than Ferraris over the last two years.
Hagerty, like the established authority in this area, the Historic Automobile Group (HAGI), runs a number of collector car indexes which track the performance of the various segments of this new asset class known as "collectible cars" and if you follow this link to Hagerty's various collector car indexes, you'll see that after exceptional growth in value of Ferraris over recent years, lesser value vehicles are all trending in the same direction and indeed, German and British cars are offering similar if not better returns on investment over the last twelve months. The big difference is that you don't need to invest seven figures in a car to tap into that appreciation if you look to the lesser categories where a far more modest investment can reap similar spectacular returns.
Before we get into the pageantry and color of the concours event, it's now mandatory for every major concours event to have an auction, and the official auction house of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was the recently combined automotive house RM-Sotheby's, with the auction named after the location, the adjoining, Villa Erba.
The auction saw 34 of the 39 lots on offer sold and a grand total of €26,714,530 ($29,920,273) for those 34 lots, an average sale price of $880,000 per car. Held next door at Villa Erba, the auction combined a packed house, numerous lively bidding contests, a spectacular setting and the showmanship of auctioneer Max Girardo for a two-and-a-half hour show as good as any for the automotive enthusiast. Until Max Verstappen's mishap in the following day's Formula One Grand Prix just down the road in Monte Carlo, the auction was every bit as exciting as the race, and many enthusiasts took in both events, with many spending a fortnight on the Italian-French riviera and including the Mille Miglia also.
The first European sale held by RM since it announced its strategic partnership with Sotheby’s in February, the event captured the attention of the global collector community with bidders from 26 countries, including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong; 27 percent of bidders represented first time clientele for the new company.
"We had another incredible collection of cars on offer at Villa Erba," says Max Girardo, Managing Director RM Sotheby’s Europe. "It’s always a stylish and well-attended sale; the setting, the atmosphere and the quality of vehicles we consistently consign to this auction make it a clear highlight of the European auction calendar. From the auction preview through until the end of the sale, the energy was fantastic and translated into some great prices. It’s a great honor being the official auction house of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este."
The 11 "million dollar cars"
Lot 110 sold for €6,720,000 ($7,398,653)
Lot 120 sold for €2,016,000 ($2,219,596)
Lot 105 sold for €1,904,000 ($2,096,285)
(Lot 133) sold for €1,568,000 ($1,726,352)
Lot 107 sold for €1,260,000 ($1,387,247)
Lot 108 sold for €1,232,000 ($1,356,420)
Lot 132 sold for €1,120,000 ($1,233,109)
Lot 129 sold for €1,019,200 ($1,122,129)
Lot 112 sold for €1,008,000 ($1,109,798)
Lot 106 sold for €1,008,000 ($1,109,798)
Lot 126 sold for €952,000 ($1,048,142)
Bentley takes Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes with EXP 10 Speed 6
There are many facets to the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa D’Este diamond and one of the most important is the Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes, which this year was played out between seven cars: the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003C, the Aston Martin DBX Concept, the Zagato Mostro, the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, the Magna Mila Plus, the Berlinetta Touring Lusso, and the Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six.
In the end, it was Bentley's concept two-seat sports car that prevailed, and the excitement of the award was further infused with the news that the car would see production, and that the future of the esteemed marque would be sportier than ever.
Those are the six runners-up above, with plenty more images in the gallery. They are, clockwise from top left: : the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003C, the Aston Martin DBX Concept, the Zagato Mostro, the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, the Magna Mila Plus, and the Berlinetta Touring Lusso.
The Zagato Mostro (pictured above) made it's debut at Villa d'Este and is covered in much greater detail by Chris Weiss elsewhere on Gizmag, but the press materials from the 96-year-old Italian design house included the below gem of an image, showing the entirety of the now omnipotent Ferrari concern in 1932. Enzo Ferrari grew the magical Ferrari marque from his relationship with Alfa Romeo, and the close ties with Zagato that spawned so many beautiful post-war Ferraris were evident even then.
Trofeo BMW Group - jury best in show
After the exhibition and the parade at Villa d’Este on Saturday and the parade at Villa Erba on Sunday the results of the many awards at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2015 were announced and the jury's award for best in show went to American David Sydorick's 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato Spider.
David Sydorick is one of the world's most recognized and prolific collectors of Zagato-designed cars, and it's not surprising one of his cars should take the gong.
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 of the early 1930s was the most successful racing car of its period and Carrozzeria Zagato was an important partner with Alfa Romeo in building its racing cars. The partnership began with the Alfa factory cars being bodied by Zagato in the second half of the 1920s and then, in the following decades, was followed by the incredible victories with the new Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato (and its subsequent evolutions), brought to racing by Scuderia Ferrari.
Enzo Ferrari, inspirer, founder and sports director of the official Alfa Romeo racing team’s factory cars, had selected Zagato as a technical partner because of its specialization in creating light and aerodynamic racing bodies, inspired by aeronautics.
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato, in different versions (two-seater Spider Corto, four-seater Tipo Le Mans Tourer and Tipo Monza), dominated the most important races of the period (among them the Mille Miglia of 1933, the 24 of Le Mans of 1931 and 1932, the Targa Florio and 24 Hours of Spa).
Based on documentation, however, two chassis received coupé bodies to be made into fast and elegant sports cars for road driving. These final coupé bodies, in particular, showed the capability of Zagato in adapting its building philosophy (oriented by rationalism and functionalism of the Milanese school of thought) to the automotive styling needs of normal circulation use, according to the tastes of the period, as well those of beauty and elegance for important concours. We've included several images of David's "best in show" 8C 2300 Zagato Spider but there are more in the image gallery.
Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este - public's best in show
The award for the best of show by public referendum at Villa d’Este is entitled "Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este" and was won this year by a 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta owned by Brit Clive Beecham (GB).
The beautiful 166 MM Barchetta also won the public's vote at the Villa Erba on Sunday, taking the Trofeo BMW Group Italia.
Trofeo BMW Group Ragazzi
This award was made by polling the crowd younger than 16 years of age, and the winner was a 1952 Pegaso Cupula Coupé owned by Evert Louwman of the Netherlands.
Class A: flamboyance in motion
The class winner for Class A (entitled "flamboyance in motion") went to this 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster and owned by Michael Kaufmann of Austria.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for Class A went to the 1925 Farman A6B Coupé de Ville by Million Guiet, and owned by Petr Turek.
Class B: Antidepressants
The class winner for Class B (entitled "Antidepressants") went to this 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider by Zagato, and owned by David Sydorick of the United States.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for Class B went to the 1933 Mercedes-Benz 380 Special Roadster by Erdmann & Rossi, and owned by Saulius Karosas.
Class C: Phantom Story
The class winner for Class C (entitled "Phantom Story") went to this 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Drophead Coupé by Vanvooren, and owned by Anthony Bamford of the United Kingdom.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for Class C went to the 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Roadster by Murphy, and owned by Robert Matteucci of the United States.
Class D: Made to measure
The class winner for Class D (entitled "Made to measure") went to this 1954 Ferrari 250 GT Europa Berlinetta by Vignale, and owned by Jaime Muldoon, of Mexico.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for this category went to the 1952 Pegaso Cupula Coupé by Enasa, and owned by Evert Louwman of the Netherlands.
Class E: Gentlemen's racers
The class winner for Class E (entitled "Gentlemen's racers") went to this 1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta by Zagato, and owned by Jim Utaski of the United States.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for this category went to the 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta by Touring, and owned by Clive Beecham of the United Kingdom.
Class F: Hollywood on the lake
The class winner for Class F (entitled "Hollywood on the lake") went to this 1953 Lancia Aurelia B52 spider by Pinin Farina, and owned by Orin Smith of the United States.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for this category went to the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider by Scaglietti, owned by Staffan Wittmark of Sweden.
Class G: GT Man has arrived
The class winner for Class G (entitled "GT Man has arrived") was this 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider by Scaglietti, owned by German Detlef Hübner.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for this category went to the 1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II four-door convertible by Mulliner, owned by Fred Kriz of Monaco.
The six-wheeled Panther Six was in this category and received quite a reception by the crowd.
Class H: how fast is fast enough?
The class winner for Class H (entitled "how fast is fast enough") was this 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV Berlinetta by Bertone, owned by Graham Robertson of the UK.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for this category went to the 1976 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 Berlinetta by Bertone, owned by Albert Spiess of Switzerland.
Class I: Two seats against the stopwatch
The class winner for Class I (entitled "Two seats against the stopwatch") was this 1959 Maserati 60/61 "Birdcage" Spider by Allegretti, owned by Austrian Andreas Mohringer.
The runner-up or "Mention of Honor" for this category went to Austrian Egon Zweimüller's 1964 McLaren M1-A Open Prototype
The best preserved pre-war car
The Trofeo FIVA for the best preserved pre-war car went to Petr Turek's 1925 Farman A6B Coupé de Ville by Million Guiet.
The best preserved post-war car
The Trofeo ASI for the best preserved post-war car went to Czech Albert Spiess' 1976 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 Berlinetta by Bertone.
The most sensitive restoration
The most sensitive restoration award went to the 1952 Ferrari 212 Europa Berlinetta by Vignale, owned by Bradley Calkins of the United States.
The most elegant Rolls-Royce
The Trofeo Rolls-Royce awarded by the jury for the most elegant Rolls-Royce went to this 1961 Silver Cloud II, four-door Convertible by H.J. Mulliner, owned by Fred Kriz of Monaco.
The best iconic car
The jury award, the Trofeo Vranken Pommery, for "the best iconic car" went to this 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS Coupé owned by Marco Betocchi of Italy.
The best interior design
The jury-chosen Trofeo Foglizzo for the best interior design was awarded to this 1946 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 S Cabriolet by Pinin Farina, owned by Christopher Ohrstrom of the United States.
Best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger
Another jury award, the Trofeo Roeckl, was won the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 770K Cabriolet D of Russian Mikhail Opengeym.
The Opengeyms really got into the spirit of the event with impeccable period costume.
The most exciting design
As adjudged by the Jury, the most exciting design award (Trofeo Auto & Design) was awarded to this 1952 Pegaso Cupula Coupé, by Enasa, owned by Evert Louwman, of the Netherlands.
The car driven from farthest away
As is customary in such events, not all the show-pieces were trailered in, and the prize for the car driven farthest to the event (the Trofeo Automobile Club di Como) went to an entrant in the Pre-war Coachbuilt Luxury category, a 7.35 liter eight cylinder 1930 Isotta Fraschini 8A SS convertible by Castagna, which was driven by Karol Pavlů from Slovakia.
Brigitte Bardot's Riva
Riva's mahogany-hulled aquatic sports cars have long been the tender boats of choice of royalty, captains of industry, celebrities and other jet setters. Jeremy Clarkson once referred to Riva's design as "a jaw-dropping, eye-watering, hand-biting, man-made spectacle" and Riva owners have famously included Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Ferrucio Lamborghini, Sophia Loren, Prince Rainier, Aristotle Onassis, Peter Sellers, Dino de Laurentiis and perhaps the most visible owner was sixties sex symbol Brigitte Bardot, who was forever appearing in newspapers and magazines aboard her Riva Florida "Nounours," usually photographed near her home in St Tropez. The boat was a gift from her husband, Roger Vadim, and it went under the hammer at the RM-Sotheby's auction at Villa Erba on the weekend, selling for €146,250.
Munch Mammut wins "best in show" motorcycle
Friedel Münch created the aptly named Mammut (after the wooly, economy-size, elephant-like mastodon which weighed more than ten tonnes and stood up to 15 feet at the shoulder) using a four-cylinder air-cooled engine from the NSU Prinz TT automobile. Understanding the full impact of the Mammut requires looking back to a time before Honda's CB750 when the fastest road bikes around were 650cc British vertical twins. Going through a number of iterations from the 1000cc version which first appeared in the mid-sixties, the bike which won best-in-show was a 1973-model fuel-injected 1177 cc 4TTS-E, the first roadgoing production motorcycle to exceed 100 hp. Goodness gracious, how times have changed.
The array of motorcycles entered at Villa d'Este included some spectacular and rare examples and judging the show must have had its challenges. Our extensive photographic coverage of the event includes many more images, so we've included images in the text of just the class winners. Click through to the gallery for much more.
Motorcycles Class A - The Establishment
First place in Class A (The Establishment) went to the 1912 Puch Type N of Petja Grom (SI), second to the 1923 Victoria K.R. II of Reinhard Bättig (CH) and third to the 1928 Moto Guzzi C 2V of Luigi Broggio (IT).
The Victoria which took second features a motor which may not be immediately recognizable, but indeed was the first of a dynasty that is recognizable to this day – BMW's horizontally-opposed twin. BMW began making the M2B15 500cc side-valve engine that had borrowed heavily from the Douglas flat twin motor and selling it to other motorcycle manufacturers prior to building its own complete motorcycles in 1923.
BMW's bikes saw the engine developed and turned sideways to give us the configuration that has endured for just short of a century. Pictured above is the 1932 BMW 735cc R16 of Josef Kast (DE) which finished second in Class B.
Motorcycles Class B – Gentlemen’s Ride
First place in Class B (Gentlemen’s Ride) went to the 1934 Motobécane S5C Gran Sport of Yves Compan (FR), second went to the 1932 BMW R16 of Josef Kast (DE) and third went to the 1930 Standard BT 1000 of Josef Beil (DE).
Motorcycles Class C – Experiments in the Fifties
First place in Class C (Experiments in the Fifties) went to the 1955 Motom 98 T of Silvia Favaro (IT) ahead of the 1954 Victoria V35 Bergmeister of Johann Veitlmeier (DE) and the 1954 Rumi Formichino of Bruno Finardi (IT).
Motorcycles Class D – Connoisseur’s choice
First place in Class D (Connoisseur’s choice) went to the 1973 Münch-4 TTS-E of Alessandro Altinier (IT) which also won best in show. We've pictured the second-placed bike in this category above, a 1974 MV Agusta 750 GT owned by Thomas Burkhardt (DE). Third place in this category went to the 1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR of Giorgio Giani (IT).
Motorcycles Class E – The heroes
First place in Class E (The Heroes) went to the 1972 Honda CB 750 of Josef Gunz (AT), with second awarded to the 1972 Kawasaki H2 750cc two-stroke triple of Bernhard Rhomberg (AT) and third to the 1974 Kawasaki Z 900 of Tobias Aichele (DE).View gallery - 407 images