The press release touts Concorso d'Elegenza Villa d'Este as "the world's most exclusive beauty contest for historic automobiles and motorcycles," a statement which reflects the small number of vehicles chosen for display each year. This year with just 51 cars and 41 motorcycles competing, it was certainly the most exclusive, but it was also the most elegant, with the participants, judges and crowd all delighting in dressing appropriately for the occasion.
For those who attended on multiple days, a fresh, flamboyant and fun outfit was mandatory. You only need to look through the pictures of the judging to see the spirit in which the entire affair was conducted ... everyone may have been dressed to the nines, but it was a casual and fun affair, with the best artwork on the planet on show.
The winners follow, but there are lots of additional images in the gallery.
Trofeo BMW Group | Best of Show
The "Best of Show" Award at Concorso d'Elegenza Villa d'Este is judged by the jury and known as the Trofeo BMW Group. This year it went to the 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototipo Coupé, styled by Bertone, and presented at Villa d'Este by Corrado Lopresto, Italy. Sixty years prior in October 1957, the same car was presented by Alfa Romeo at Autosalon Turin.
Coppa d'Oro Villa d'Este | Best of Show by public vote at Villa d'Este
The car voted "Best of Show" by the public on Saturday at Villa d'Este has a remarkable history. The car was designed and constructed in 1935 by Italian journalist, publisher, designer and racer Giovanni Lurani Cernuschi, VIIIth Count of Calvenzano (1905 – 1995) who went on to break numerous records driving the car. Though it is now 82 years-of-age, the car remains in the same family and was presented at Villa d'Este by the grandson of Cernuschi, Federico Göttsche Bebert, pictured above in the red racing suit.
Trofeo BMW Group Italia | By Public Referendum at Villa Erba
Corrado Lopresto's Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototipo was the biggest winner on the weekend, taking a win in Class G (Supergioiello: Little Toys for Big Boys), "best of show" and validating the judges opinion, the car also won the public award at Villa Erba.
Trofeo BMW Group Ragazzi | voted by young attendees at Villa Erba
Alain Lecocq's 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Turismo Cabriolet by Castagna won the popular vote of attendees at Villa Erba who were younger than 16 years old.
Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes
by public vote at Villa Erba
Renault's concept cars are always visually arresting "in the flesh" and it was no surprise to see the Renault TreZor Electric Coupé from the 2016 Paris Motor Show win this class.
Trofeo FIVA For the best preserved pre-war car
Marco Gastaldi's 1927 Hispano-Suiza T49 Weymann Sport Saloon by H. J. Muliner won this award. It was in remarkable shape considering it has been on the road for 90 years.
Trofeo ASI For the best preserved post-war car
Displayed publicly at Techno-Classica in 2016 and the Turin Motor Show in 1960, the Abarth 1000 Bialbero Record Monoposto of Luca Bertolero was always going to be the most eye-catching car of the show, taking the trophy for best preserved post-war car too.
Dubbed "La Principessa," the car was designed by Pininfarina using the wind tunnel at Turin Polytechnic to achieve a drag co-efficient of just 0.20. With such low drag and minimal frontal area, you don't need a lot of horsepower to go fast, and the car's 100 hp 1000cc four-cylinder motor gave it an incredible top speed for the time. It set eight world speed records at Monza in 1960. The car is now owned by Italian Luca Bertolero.
Trofeo BMW Group Classic for the most sensitive restoration
This award went to the 1948 Bentley MK VI Cresta Coupé designed by Pininfarina and owned by Fred Kriz of Monaco.
Trofeo Rolls-Royce for the most elegant Rolls-Royce
It would be impossible to argue with this result as the 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Brougham de Ville of Australian Chris Meany boasts a visual presence beyond anything you might have previously seen on wheels. The car was commissioned by the husband of Woolworths heiress Maude Gasque for his wife in 1926.
As Charles Clark & Son proprietor J. H. Barnett later recalled: "As I believe is often the case with Americans, this gentleman wanted a car for his wife which must be different to anything else, and also better. He would not stipulate what he wanted except that the design must be French, and left everything to me including price."
According to Bonhams' catalog listing for the car, "Seeking inspiration for this loosely specified commission, Barnett visited London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the world's largest museum devoted to art and design. There he saw 'a very delightful little Sedan Chair which had once belonged to Marie Antoinette, and which had a painted ceiling'."
As the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette's outrageous extravagance helped catalyze the revolution. Her baroque preferences which characterize the Palace of Versailles can be clearly seen in the interior of this car.
Trofeo Vranken Pommery for the best iconic car
This award went to a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB Competizione by Pininfarina. The car was shown from the Monagesque Destriero Collection.
Trofeo Julius Baer for the car which showcases exceptional craftsmanship from its time
It's difficult to portray with one image just how well finished any Ghia L 6.4 Coupe came off the factory floor, but it is truly astounding to inspect one in detail and ponder the workmanship. Only 26 were ever made and customers who paid the then outrageous price of $13,500 included three of Hollywood's infamous "Rat Pack" – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford. It is no surprise that the handmade Italian car should win the trophy for exceptional craftsmanship. This 1962 model is owned by Jack Braam-Ruben of the Netherlands.
Trofeo Foglizzo For the best interior design
The Tatra 77 is generally regarded as the first car to have been designed with aerodynamic principals in mind, having been penned by automotive genius Hans Ledwinka in conjunction with Paul Jaray, one of the first aerodynamic engineers and the man behind the aerodynamics of the Zeppelin airship. Indeed, as events played out in court after WW2 suggest, Ledwinka had a major hand in the design of the Volkswagen Beetle.
The streamlined Tatra 77 Saloon of Tomáš Hoferek had the sunroof option, another ingenious Ledwinka innovation incorporated into the car. The voluminous cabin of the car, leather seats and forward thinking in the design of almost every aspect no doubt influenced the judges.
Trofeo Auto & Design for the most exciting design
This award went to the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster of American Brendan M. Finn.
Trofeo Automobile Club di Como for the car driven from farthest away
In previous years this award has gone to cars which have traveled much farther than this year's winner Edouard Mignon, who drove from Switzerland. The car is a 1962 Lagonda Rapide Touring Saloon.
Class A: Speed Demons – Endurance Pioneers of the Golden Age
This class was created to encompass racing cars from the beginning of motorsport and the outline for the class specifically mentions the Gordon Bennett Cup, the classic Paris-centered races which kicked off auto racing 120 years ago.
It was hence of great intrigue to find that two of the five contestants in the class had met before on the hallowed bankings of Brooklands race track in the UK during the early 1930s. That's the French Ballot 3/8 LC from 1920 and the Bentley 4 ½ Litre from 1929 getting reacquainted after 85 years.
The 1920 Ballot 3/8LC of Alex Schaufler won the class and it isn't hard to guess why when you consider the history of the car and the gravitas it brought to Villa d'Este. This is the car that won the inaugural "Gran Premio d'Italia" in the hands of superstar Jules Goux on September 4, 1921.
Given that you can't have the car which won the first "Gran Premio d'Italia" finishing second in class, the 'Mention of Honor' went to the car which also won the popular vote for "best in show," the Lurani Nibbio Single-Seater.
Class B: Traveling in style around the world
A class designed to show off the luxurious and extravagant automobiles from the pre-war era. As the concours literature suggests, "These candidates were forged in the style of their times and they are not just permitted to exude an aura of decadence, they must epitomize it."
The most decadent and hence class winner was this 1930 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Berline by Murphy, owned by Ion Tiriac of Romania.
The "Mention of Honor" in the class went to this 1932 Lancia Dilambda Torpedo Sport by Carrozzeria Viotti, owned by Albert Kalimian.
Class C: Goodbye Jazz, Hello Radio – full speed into the 1930s
We're not sure about the rationale for this category, so here's the official explanation of the category: "In 1932, the car radio was launched on its successful trajectory. Rhythmic harmony encouraged drivers to adopt a more rapid driving style. This class shows how different manufacturers responded to this challenge. The full range of responses is presented here encompassing overdrive gearboxes, streamlined coachwork and supercharged engines."
The class winner was Alain Lecocq's 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Granturismo Cabriolet by Castagna, the same car that won the popular vote from young attendees at Villa Erba.
The honorable mention in this category went to the 1934 Tatra 77 Streamlined Saloon.
Class D: Faster, Quieter, Smoother: Heroes of the Jet Age
This class is designed to bring together the sports cars of the post-WW2 era, and it's hence quite fitting that the winning car of the class was the Fiat 8V Supersonic Coupé by Ghia, penned at a time when supersonic was the latest buzzword for modernity and performance thanks to Chuck Yeager's first supersonic flight.
The Ghia's gorgeous "supersonic" design was first shown at the 1954 Turin Motor Show and was eventually used in limited quantities on Fiat, Jaguar and Aston Martin cars. This 1953 8V Supersonic owned by Lennard Schouwenburg of the Netherlands is one of 114 Fiats built with the futuristic design.
The "Mention of Honor" for this category went to this 1947 Bentley Mk VI Drophead Coupé by H.J.Mulliner, owned by Norbert Seeger of Liechtentein.
Class E: The Grand Tour Continues: The Next 40 Years
This category is clearly about luxury and speed and it was a fairly safe quinella of Ferrari and Mercedes that took the first two spots in the class. The class winner was this 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Speciale by Pininfarina, owned by Audrey & Martin Gruss of the United States.
The honorable mention in this class appropriately went to a 1955 Gullwing 300 SL Mercedes-Benz, this one owned by Andries Meuzelaar of Belgium.
Class F: Fast and Flamboyant: Playboys' Toys
This is the category for very fast and expensive cars, racing cars for the road and cars that look as fast as they are. Once more, you might have guessed the names of the winners. A 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 coupé by Bertone (owned by Jean-Pierre Slavic of Switzerland) won the class ...
... while the honorable mention went to the 1957 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder Prototype owned by American Robert Bishop.
Class G. Supergioiello: Little Toys for Big Boys
The competitors in this class were all low production sports cars, with four of the seven class entrants being unique, and the most voluminous production being just 21 units. Given that readers will have already seen that the judges awarded "best of show" to the 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototipo of Corrado Lopresto, it's no surprise the car was the class winner too.
The "Mention of Honor" in this class went to the 1955 Fiat 8V Berlinetta by Vignale, presnted at Villa d'Este 2017 by Jan De Reu of Belgium.
Class H: Shaped by Speed – Racing through the Decades
A class dedicated to competition cars styled by the world's most skillful stylists to cut through the wind faster than their competition. The winner that emerged from a very hot field of participants in this class was the above 1958 Maserati 300S Open Two Seater styled by Fantuzzi and presented at Villa d'Este by Andreas Mohringer.
The "Mention of Honor" in this class went to the 1960
Abarth 1000 Bialbero Record Monoposto designed by PininFarina and presented at Villa d'Este by Luca Bertolero. The car also won the best preserved post war car above.
Trofeo BMW Group | Best of Show Concorso di Motociclette
This 6 hp Puch 250cc single is not your traditional "Best of Show" motorcycle, but it fit the theme of the Concorso this year perfectly and it was authentic in every way. Presented by Italian motorcycle collector Max Reisch, the bike was used by his father, Peter Reisch, to ride from Vienna to Mumbai in India in 1933 with a pillion. Reisch and pillion passenger Herbert Tichy covered 13,000 kilometers, crossing the Balkans, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Persia and Baluchistan on the way to India, with the trip documented in a book entitled India: The Shimmering Dream.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more