Each year, the world’s automotive upper class descends on the shores of Lake Como for a beauty pageant unlike any other. Gleaming Rivas gently bobbing on the waves of Lake Como, buzzing seaplanes approaching from a distance, elegant people dressed in linen and seersucker suits strolling across the terrace of what is arguably the most beautiful Grand Hotel south of the Alps – a weekend at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is a real journey through time. While this setting alone would already outshine most Hollywood movies trying to depict Italy’s famous grandezza, the real highlights are, of course, the automobiles. No other event manages to bring together such an exciting and eclectic mix of the world’s greatest, most iconic, most desirable, and – above all – most beautiful collector cars. And while we still dream about the last Concorso d’Eleganza that was held in October 2021, this year’s edition on 21 – 22 May promises even more outstanding cars, themes – and quite a few surprises!
For once, the people at BMW Group Classic and Grand Hotel Villa d'Este – who have jointly held the Concorso d’Eleganza for more than 20 years – have slightly shaken up the schedule and will kick off the concours weekend on Thursday with a sneak preview of some of the cars in and around Milan and a prelude tour to Cernobbio. Saturday, however, is still the big day at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este: more than 50 cars will compete in seven classes for the public vote and the ‘Best of Show’ trophy awarded by the jury, the Trofeo BMW Group. Considering the amount of anniversaries to be celebrated at this year’s event, guests should be ready for a big birthday bash. First of all, there is the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este itself that is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a special class for cars that ‘once made a grand entrance’ – vehicles that have gone down in the annals of the Concours as winners of the Coppa d'Oro Villa d'Este or the “Best of Show” trophy since the first event took place in 1929.
Then, of course, there is the 75th birthday of Ferrari to be commemorated. After a mind-boggingly beautiful Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France won last year’s concours, the selecting committee had the tough job of choosing eight iconic cars from Ferrari’s overwhelming back catalogue, one for each decade of the brand’s history. Classic Driver readers who have paid close attention in the last weeks will know at least one of the eight exceptional cavalli guaranteed to stun the crowds at this year’s concorso.
Slightly younger, but equally impactful are the mean machines that were produced under the banner of BMW M in the last 50 years. While there will be a dedicated concours class for BMW M cars and their ancestors, BMW will also reveal the eagerly awaited M4 CSL – and isn’t the carefully raked gravel of the Grand Hotel’s lakeside estate just begging for some freshly painted donuts? By the way, BMW M shares its birth year of 1972 with Jägermeister Racing, and we wouldn't be surprised if our friends from Rennmeister had a small cameo in mind for this year's Concorso d'Eleganza. There are of course plenty more exciting themes and concours classes scheduled for this year’s Villa d’Este weekend. Expect elegant art déco automobiles, an armada of supercharged Mercedes-Benz Kompressor cars, a selection of exceptional track toys from the golden days of motor racing, and pioneer supercars that pursued the magic 300 kph speed barrier. Besides the verified classics, the Villa d’Este is also a place to spot some of the latest concept cars, one-offs and hyper cars: BMW has already teased that the brand-new, all-electric i7 will be on show, as well as a second Rolls-Royce Boat Tail.
The highlight of each Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is the parade of all competing cars on the Grand Hotel’s trademark terrace on Saturday. On Sunday – and this is one of the major changes compared to previous years – the top-placed cars will return to Villa d’Este together with the concept cars and prototypes for a second parade as well as the prize giving by the jury. The winner of the “BMW Group Trophy – Best of Show” and concours watch – a one-of-a-kind A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph – will be announced during Sunday afternoon. A limited amount of entry tickets is available online for both days.
Meanwhile at Villa Erba – another traditional location of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend – there will be a new event format called “Wheels & Weisswürscht Lake Como": For the first time, international BMW, Mini, and other automobile clubs are invited to a casual car meet on the historic grounds. Furthermore, BMW M will look back at its most iconic road and race cars with a special exhibition, including three of the famous BMW M Ring Taxis from the Nürburgring. It seems there are is no shortage of reasons for a trip to Lake Como this year. We can't wait to see you there!
Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver