The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este might be closed to the public this year, but there is still plenty to see around Lake Como this weekend. In fact, with many satellite events from Milan to St. Moritz, it’s starting to feel like a Lombardian version of the Monterey Car Week. And while historic speedboats are hitting the waves at the Centomiglia del Lario, Fuori Concorso returns for its second, bigger and better edition to Lake Como. After the “Big Bentleys” from the 1990s were celebrated at the first Fuori Concorso in May 2019, the curators have put turbo cars in the spotlight for the 2021 edition. Besides the breathtakingly elegant Villa del Grumello, the contemporary collector car concours now includes the equally stunning Villa Sucota next door as a second exhibition space. Planned by Guglielmo Miani, president of the Milanese fashion brand Larusmiani, and supported by Classic Driver, Fuori Concorso Turbo offers a fresh take on the well-established format of the automotive beauty contest. And while the stars at Villa d’Este are certainly the classics from the golden age of motoring and coachbuilding, Fuori Concorso exhibits more modern cars from the 1970s to the early years of the new Millennium.
For generations of petrolheads growing up in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, “Turbo” was the buzzword to get your attention. A synonym for speed, additional performance and massive amounts of horsepower unleashed by putting down the pedal, a Turbo badge graced the most iconic sportscars of the era. And considering the number and diversity of influential “un-naturally aspirated” cars from the last 50 years, the Fuori Concorso has done a great job in bringing many of the most important cars to the shores of Lake Como, creating arguably the world`s first “Turbo Hall of Fame”. Split in three classes, visitors wander around the park-like premises of the two Villas and marvel at turbocharged sports, racing and concept cars rarely seen in public.
From Le Mans in the 1970s to the most demanding rally stages and Formula 1 tracks around the world in the 1980s, the turbocharger has boosted motorsports to new, previously unthinkable levels of performance and speed for more than two decades. Among the turbo racers at Fuori Concorso line-up there is a Porsche 962 Group C monster that remind us once again how much Zuffenhausen profited from the turbo technology.
Equally impressive is the line-up of some of the most iconic Italian competition cars, including a Alfa 75 Turbo Evoluzione and a Fiat Uno Totip pocket rocket, a fire-spitting Ferrari F40 GT. Oh, and did we mention the Martini-sponsored rally Lancias, a Delta Integrale Evoluzione, a S4 and a Beta Montecarlo Group 5? There was even the unique Lancia ECV2 prototype from the FCA Heritage collection! Parked between ancient redwood trees and palms, with the aristocratic, century-old villa and the world-famous views of Lake Como and the in the background, these racing machines with their extended wheel arches, fenders, wings and bold liveries seem even more like hooligans from outer space.
From the racetracks and rally stages, the turbocharger quickly found its way into serial production, creating some of the most iconic sports cars, GTs, and super cars of the modern age along the way. For their event, the Fuori Concorso team has chosen homologation specials like the Ferrari 288 GTO and the F40 that derived from it, as well as an Audi Sport Quattro, Peugeot 205 T16 and Renault R5 Turbo – all asking to be piloted sideways across the aristocratic gravel of Villa del Grumello. There is even a Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion and a Jaguar XJ220 casually parked in the glorious garden – developed and put into production in the 1990s, these street-legal endurance racers haven’t lost a bit of their striking presence until this day. Besides the certified turbo legends there are less well-known creations on display. When have you last seen an Aztec Barchetta, a Lancia Zagato Hyena, a RUF RCT Evo or a Vector W8 in the flesh? It is good to see these wild and almost-forgotten sportscars celebrated and put in the limelight again.
Besides the sports and racing cars, there is a small but significant selection of prototypes on display at Fuori Concorso. With its four turbochargers, the silver Bugatti EB110 SS Prototipo might be the star of the show. Or would you rather pick the white Porsche 959 driven in period by Ferdinand Piech? Or the neon orange, Marcello Gandini-designed Lancia S81 from the Lopresto Collection? If you have a heart for the weird and the wonderful, the Lancia ECV2 and the Stola Dedica Prototipo might also float your boat.
With a sensational line-up of iconic and almost forgotten turbo cars displayed in style, and a conversation programme including personalities like racing legends Jean Alesì and Mark Webber and designer Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Fuori Concorso has once again proven its place in the league of top-class automotive events. And while the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este stayed closed to the public this year, Fuori Concorso was open for everyone on Sunday, reminding us once again that inclusion and community-building might be the most important values for collector car events in a post-covid world.
Photos: Andrea Klainguti for Classic Driver