22 June 2011

La Dolce Vita at the Villa d'Este

Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza must be the ultimate upscale classic car gathering – an unusual example of perfect German and Italian cooperation. The Italians provided La Dolce Vita – the world-class setting on the shores of Lake Como – while the Germans (and BMW in particular) brought their ability to master all things that can be humanly controlled.

The Villa d’Este Grand Hotel offered its beautiful century-old gardens, with mosaics, and colorful and fragrant azaleas protected by giant elms. Add San Pellegrino, Barolo, gelato and a slight breeze, and you get the perfect Southern European human experience in one location.

Germans and Italians share some core values: a tendency to affectionate aristocracy and the reluctance of discussing money in the open, for example. The organisations in charge successfully defined typical European values: close-knit, small-is-beautiful and not commercially oriented. The idea stretched beyond Europe’s borders, too, with 25 percent of the participants shipping precious automobiles from overseas to be part of this experience, in many ways very different from the country club lawns to which they are accustomed.

The 2011 Concorso was also complemented by another set of values, coming from North American culture for the first time, in the form of a sumptuous auction organised by RM Auctions. RM’s company values blend Italian “casual attitude” with German “no room for improvisation,” with the American mottos – “Bigger is better” and “Money talks.”

Both events, the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza on one side, and RM Auctions sale in Villa Erba on the other, were perfectly crafted, leaving the visitor with the delightful dilemma of how to best enjoy the overall experience.

Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este

Best of Show: 1942 Alfa-Romeo 6C 2500 SS par Bertone
Entrant: Corrado Lopresto (IT)

BMW Group trophy
Best of Show
: 1968 Alfa-Romeo Stradale Berlinetta
Entrant: Clive Joy (UK)

You might have admired the voluptuous curves of Mr. Cantore’s 1938 Talbot-Lago T23 Teardrop by Figoni & Falaschi at Ville d’Este Concorso, or studied another Figoni & Falaschi Talbot-Lago T150C Teardrop at RM’s sale, though the price tag of £3m might have caused the dream to fade rather quickly.

And if you were astonished by the silent running and craftsmanship of Mr. Seeger’s 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Brewster Town Car during the concours, discovering a twin 1929 Rolls-Royce Brewster Town car under the RM Auction tent 20 minutes later for £429,448 reminds you that after all, as auctioneer Max Girardo says, “It’s only money.”

The visitor could be dazzled by the 100 cars on display at the two sites, as well as a superb motorcycle exhibit and a tribute to the 75th  anniversary of the BMW 328. Simply put, the display was as overwhelming as the concours at Pebble Beach in California.

RM Auctions and BMW have agreed that RM will alternate an annual auction at Villa d’Este with one at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. So next year, plan on an RM sale in Monaco on 12 May, 2012 and the Villa d’Este Concorso on 25-27 May. In a perfect world, you can see both.

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