The world’s an unfair place – especially if you can’t spend the end of the winter in St. Moritz. While we, the flat-landers, are struggling to free ourselves from the grip of winter depression, the international Jet Set enjoys a sophisticated sports and recreation programme in the sun and the snow at 1,800 metres above sea level.
And if you don’t dive head first into the ice tunnel on the Cresta Run or cure the effects of last night’s party with a ‘Bullshot’ in the Sunny Bar, you could explore some of the most beautiful corners of the Engadin’s Alps from behind the wheel of your sports car. Last Saturday, the petrol-heads of St. Moritz had another reason to celebrate: on the White Turf that’s usually trodden by race and polo horses, around 40 automotive enthusiasts ventured onto the town’s frozen lake to prove their skills at the inaugural International Concours of Elegance, or The Ice for short.
The Ice was organised by Marco Makaus, the former Mille Miglia chief and genial grand seigneur of the Italian automotive scene, and Fabrizio d’Aloisio, who represents St. Moritz as its head of communication. Inevitably, he also has a fondness for beautiful cars.
And so, about a month after the GP Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria, the most daring winter drivers of the central Alps convened once again to enjoy the centrifugal forces experienced while automotive figure skating. In contrast to the large-scale reissue of the ice race in Austria, The ICE was a lot more informal – just 41 cars took to the lake on Saturday morning, although the selection was as eclectic and quality as you’d expect in St. Moritz.
It was truly amazing to see a red Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary complete with Monegasque license plates and a toboggan strapped to the roof drifting across the lake, only to be drowned out by the roar of the Ferrari F50 being driven with great gusto by its owner, a helicopter pilot. The Holy Trinity of Lancia rally cars – the Stratos, 037, and Delta Integrale – also made a powerful impression. Even a snarling Delta S4 in full Martini garb could be seen drifting past spectators and showering them in snow.
Meanwhile, the fearless pilot of the Bugatti Type 35 deserved the utmost respect for his driving prowess – it takes a special kind of nerve to equip an open pre-War Grand Prix car with studded tyres and direct it onto a frozen lake and, subsequently, the extremes of the laws of physics. Also rewarded were the ‘Bentley Boys’, dressed in knickerbockers and corduroy trousers. They chased their beautifully aged 4 1/2 Litres across the ice with kites and were rightfully awarded the audience voted ‘Spirit of St. Moritz’ award.
The call from St. Moritz was also answered by some of the most well-regarded personalities of the automotive scene. Simon Kidston travelled from Geneva with his father’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ – the appearance of the mythical Lamborghini Miura SVJ formerly owned by the Shah of Iran was also owed to him. “There’s nothing like racing around a frozen lake to wake up the senses!” Kidston confessed, laughing. “Just don’t tell the insurance company!”
Eugenio Amos, the Instagram phenomenon and man behind Automobili Amos, left the Delta Futurista in the garage and instead brought along a wonderful burgundy Ferrari 275 GTB. “It was the perfect event for me,” he enthused. “It was both exclusive and democratic. The vibe was just perfect: no drama queens and really passionate people sharing their passion with the world.”
Classic Driver dealer Ronnie Kessel brought along a host of breathtaking equipment, including three Pagani Huayras and a stunning Ferrari 488 GT3 resplendent in a special St. Moritz livery. And for the unofficial debut of the GFG Style Kangaroo, even design grandmaster Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son travelled to the Engadin. The car will make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week.
It’s the international mix of the old-school and the eccentric that makes St. Moritz so special. And that was also reflected in the entry list for The Ice. Despite the fact you could have drooled over a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione or an Aston Martin formerly owned by David Brown, we were particularly taken with the modest but creatively modified automobiles such as the Mercedes-Benz S123 estate owned by an Italian journalist. Only a Fiat Panda 4x4, the unofficial automotive icon of St. Moritz, was missing. But then there’s always next time…
Photos: Andrea Klainguti for Classic Driver © 2019