Around the world in 48 hours at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2017

Inspired by Jules Verne, this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este will focus on the great era of speed records and those that obliterated them. Classic Driver will be taking part in this year’s journey back in time on Lake Como, but until then, here are a few highlights of what’s to come…

Higher, faster, farther

Nothing takes our breath away more than sitting behind the wheel of a car, reaching maximum acceleration and flying down a straight piece of road in the blink of an eye. However, this concept of global speed-mania isn’t a new one, as it first began back in the 19th century, with the arrival of railways and steamships. Before the automobile, speed junkies got their fix with these new means of transportation, which made it possible to suddenly overcome vast distances in the shortest possible time. As a result, the desire to break new speed records soon became an addiction. And it’s this golden age of record-setting speed-achievers, further highlighted in Jules Verne’s book Around the World in 80 Days, that has become the source of inspiration for this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

There can only be one

Those set to participate at Villa d’Este this year include 51 classic cars from 16 countries, competing in eight classes and being evaluated by an official panel of judges, including our very own J. Philip Rathgen, as well as the ever-opinionated spectators. The entire entry list is strictly kept secret until Saturday morning, but the classes and some representatives have slowly been revealed throughout the week. If pre-War cars hold a soft spot in your heart, you must check out the long-distance legends of the 1920s featured in the “Speed Demons” category or the decadent and opulent luxury cars from the “Travelling in Style” class. Then go full speed to the cars of the 1930s, which are honoured in the “Goodbye Jazz, Hello Radio” class, and the custom-made heroes of the Jet Age, presented under the banner of “Faster, Quieter, Smoother”. But the beautiful bevvies don’t end there, with large luxury carriages of the post-War years, fast toys of playboys, compact racing machines, and aerodynamic wonders from the 1950s to the 1970s also being shown. One overall winner will be selected, earning the prestigious Best of Show accolade and receiving not only the Trofeo BMW Group trophy but also a unique, winners-only watch from A. Lange & Söhne.


If the Villa d’Este terrace starts to tempt you after a quick walk through the concours field, you must resist, as you’d be missing out on an additional arena of concept cars and over 40 motorcycles on display. And let’s not forget about the selection of cars on display at Villa Erba, where RM Sotheby’s will be showing its stars in a little bit of sunshine before they go under the hammer at the Saturday night auction. Then, once you’ve made your rounds and looked at every machine exhibited, we recommend you top your day off with a martini instead of the obligatory Aperol Spritz this year, in honour of the great gentleman and motorist Roger Moore, who, early this week, embarked on his greatest journey yet.

Photos: Rémi Dargegen / Jan Baedeker for Classic Driver

Classic Driver, in partnership with A. Lange & Söhne, will be reporting live from the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2017, and the latest articles from Lake Como can be found here.