Let’s get straight to the point: there are few places in the world quite like St. Moritz. Whether you arrive there by the glorious winding roads, or via the Rhaetian Railway, the destination is truly one that will take your breath away. It is a melting pot of fame, fortune, sports, fashion, and, most importantly for us, automobiles.
Many will instantly think of the snow-capped mountains and incredible slopes that litter the surrounding mountain ranges, and although St. Moritz is arguably one of the greatest winter destinations ever, its party piece is when the summer sun comes out to play.
Passione Engadina was established by Paolo Spalluto, a gentleman that quite literally embodies the word ‘passion’. This year’s event was the 11th edition and promised to bring enthusiasts and friends together in the most spectacular of surroundings. Each year, the event welcomes a guest sponsor to participate, bringing new awareness to the event, not to mention some glorious cars. In 2022, the limelight was given to Bugatti. Passione Engadina celebrates Italian car culture – and Bugatti coincidently has a very meaningful connection with the Italian territory, since Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan. So as expected, Bugatti was making for an incredible showcase of models alongside pre-war Alfa Romeos, rally-ready Lancia Stratos’, and even a Cinquecento or two. If it was Italian, it was there to be admired by all!
The three-day event is packed with various happenings, designed to maintain the high velocity of Mr Spalluto himself, who opened this year’s Passione Engadina early on Friday morning. An assortment of Italy’s finest began to filter in, with the mountains and narrow streets making for the perfect auxiliary to hear the rumble of a De Tomaso or turbo whistle of a Ferrari SF90. Friday is also dedicated to the ladies, where an all-female competition takes place in which teams of two compete in challenging timed events which some exceptional prizes on offer from Passione Engadina’s many sponsors such as Acqua di Parma, Maura Wasescha and Chopard. Once the ladies had returned to the idyllic lawn of the Kulm Hotel and Country Club, attendees were treated to several talks from the roster of star-studded guest speakers, including Bugatti’s new owner and CEO, Mate Rimac. Mate shared his enjoyment for a number of upcoming young entrepreneurs, who like himself are firmly stamping their mark on the automotive industry.
Such is the energy of the Passione Engadina, the plethora of collector cars aren’t simply in one spot for the thousands of attendees and judges to talk over, as the event has a unique approach to a typical concours event. Branded as the ‘Eleganza in Movimento’, these exceptional cars take to the surrounding mountain passes to be judged by a reputable jury led by Lorenzo Ramacciott and featuring our very own CEO, JP Rathgen. The addition of movement to the Eleganza allows the subtle lines on cars such as a 275 GTB or Spider Veloce to be accentuated further as they pass through the tapered and lively streets of St. Moritz. With reflections casting off the finest luxury atelier outlets and the flash of cameras, the task of choosing a favourite was exceptionally difficult, but the king of the supercars in the form of a 1990 Ferrari F40 driven by Pierre Lonlat and Laura Sandberg took the overall victory, which was met by a roaring cheer at the awards ceremony.
Elsewhere at Passione Engadina, a sense of anticipation and excitement was in the air, and once Saturday had arrived it was clear to see why. Over 135 cars were stickered up and ready to make their way on the Julius Bär Rallye, a challenging 232 km route that is divided into two sectors, running through Berninapass, Tirano, Bormio, Umbrailpass, Müstair, Ofenpass, Zernez, S-Chanf, Samedan, and Celerina. The driving would be intense on a regular day, due to the unpredictability of the roads and surroundings, but Saturday saw heavy rain forecast for almost the entire day. Undeterred by this, drivers tackled the passes with haste, completing various time trials along the way designed to test the car and its driver’s ability. After a long but breathtaking day of driving, fittingly it was a Bugatti Type 39 Grand Prix piloted by Stefano Valente and Charlotte Magaraggia that took the outright win.
Sunday finally saw an early start at Engadin Aeroport, which had been closed to allow another kind of speed machines to take to the runway. A highlight of the entire event had to be the selection of modern Bugatti models attempting to reach their top speed. Bugatti test driver and legendary racer Andy Wallace was behind the wheel of a true masterpiece of speed, the Chiron Super Sport. In our run with Andy, which you can watch here, he reached a staggering 328kph, even with some dense fog to contend with.
It’s difficult to summarise an event as exciting as Passione Engadina, but when you gather the world’s most exclusive collector cars under the incredible backdrop of the resort steeped in a rich history of speed and glamour, the result truly was an event we won’t be forgetting anytime soon!
Photos: Andrea Klainguti © 2022