Many valuable vintage cars and other automotive gems such as concept cars come to the Concorso d’Eleganza every year, even if they are still in their infancy. In 2023, more than 50 exhibits found their way to Lake Como. Divided into 8 classes, historic cars and concept cars compete for an audience of invited guests and media representatives as well as a jury of experts.
The classification follows abstract terms rather than formal categories: Class A and B are called pre-war speedsters and pre-war weekend racers, Class C refers to the “driving pleasure of powerful maharajas” under the heading “Incredible India”. BMW has been the event’s patron since 1999 and co-host since 2005, but it basically keeps it neutral. In 2023, for example, special models from the brand will be grouped together in Class D for Porsche’s 75th anniversary. The E-Class showcases the Granturismos, the F-Class celebrates the “Made in Italy” look. Finally, class H collects open cars, although such, especially from the pre-war era, also occur in other classes.
Another Le Mans battle between Ford and Ferrari
The G Class showcases Le Mans racing cars to celebrate 100 years of the classic 24-hour event. The Ferrari 250 GTO mentioned at the beginning is also included here, although one of the reasons why the car was so legendary is that, despite its outstanding characteristics racing, it can be used just as well on the road. The model on display at Lake Como is said to have changed hands in 2018 for US$70 million, making it the most expensive, freely available car if you don’t count the Mercedes Uhlenhaut coupé in this category. But even in events where the wealthiest collectors come across millions of tins like nowhere else, money alone cannot guarantee victory, some have won overall prizes. You can read about the participants at the end of the article.
After all, the jury decided that the 250 GTO was the winner in its class, where it was able to defend itself against strong competition – including the Ford GT 40 of all things. An example that Henry Ford II wanted to force a victory in Le Mans, especially against Ferrari, which he achieved in 1966 (filmed “Le Mans 66”, which is worth seeing), after the initial purchase of Ferrari by Ford failed. The GT 40 in Concorso is the only racing car ever to score two overall victories in the 24-hour classic (1968 and 1969). The racing car, which is just 101.6 centimeters (40 inches, hence the name) high, wore Gulf colors for just the second time, driven by Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver. Height and color do not fail to impress today’s audience and given its special history, victory in the Concorso against the silver Ferrari 250 GTO, which only once finished fourth overall at Le Mans (1963), would not be surprising.
Creative classrooms full of unique designs
The classes are clearly organized according to which cars come to the show in a given year. Considering the excellent field of 2023 participants, this seems like a very good approach. In layman’s terms, some cars seem to fit into many classes, but that doesn’t stop the fun. Most shows are very rare or have numbers in the double digit range. The Ferrari 250 GTO, for example, is number 24 of 36 built. Of course, modern concept cars or prototypes that are awarded prizes outside the classic car competition are also rare.
With absolutely no competition, BMW has been presenting a new study at the Concorso for some time – the 2023 Touring Coupé, a variant of the Z4 Shooting Break. Not too sure if it will go into series production. Markus Flasch, who is responsible for development at BMW for the mid-range and luxury range including Rolls-Royce, drove the concept car to the parade with BMW chief designer Adrian van Hoydonk at the wheel and answered a question about the chances of series production: “We are thinking about it later.”
All Concorso d’Eleganza 2023 winners
Late Sunday evening, BMW announced how the audience and jury competition turned out. The audience chose the Ferrari 250, but not the GTO, but the GT Spyder California with a Scaglietti body designed by Pininfarina and, for concept cars, the Pagani Huayra Codalunga from 2022. The jury declared the Duesenberg “The best of the pre-war.” of the exhibition”. The photo gallery shows a personal selection from the Villa d’Este tour.
Below is the “Best of Show” list with all class winners and “Honorable Mention” cars in eight historic car classification classes, each including type, body designer, year of production and owner:
Trophy BMW Group
Best of Show by Jury
Winner: Duesenberg SJ, Speedster, Gurney Nutting, 1935, William Lyon, USA.
Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este
Best of Public Poll
Winner: Ferrari, 250 GT Spyder California, Spyder, Pininfarina/Scaglietti, 1961, Keybridge Collection, Hong Kong.
Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award
For Concept Cars and Prototypes for Public Opinion
Winner: Pagani Huayra Codalunga, Long Tail Coupe, 2022.
Class Winners and Honorable Mentions
Fast and Formal: The luxury of pre-war speed
Chrysler Custom Imperial CL, Convertible Sedan, LeBaron Carossiers Inc., 1933, Jack Boy Smith Jr., USA.
Lagonda V12 Rapide, Drophead Coupe, James Young, 1938, Adrian Burr, England.
Grande Vitesse: Pre-War Weekend Runners
Delahaye 145 Coupe Chapron, Coupe, Henri Chapron, 1938, Peter & Merle Mullin, USA.
BMW 328, Roadster, BMW, 1937, The May Collection, Germany.
Incredible India: Spectacular Renderings of the Cars of the Mighty Maharajas
Duesenberg SJ, Speedster, Gurney Nutting, 1935, William Lyon, USA.
Rolls-Royce Sports Phantom Prototype, Trials, Jarvis of Wimbledon, 1928, Alexander Schaufler, Austria.
Porsche at 75: Delving into the Back Catalog of the Stuttgart Legend.
Model Porsche 901 “Quick Blue”, Coupé, Karmann, 1963, Alois Ruf, Germany.
Porsche 356 Pre-A, Cabriolet, Reutter, 1954, Al Barbour, USA.
Granturismo: Experimenting with the post-war European GT
Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale, coupe, Pininfarina, 1967, William E. Heinecke, Thailand.
Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Berlinetta Riva “La Serenissima”, Berlinetta, Carrozzeria Riva, 1950, Stephen Bruno, USA.
That ‘made in Italy’ Look: Fashion that conquered the new World
Maserati A6G/54, Berlinetta, Zagato, 1956, Jonathan & Wendy Segal, USA.
Ferrari 212 Export, Berlinetta, Vignale, 1951, Brian Ross, USA.
A Century of 24 Hours of Le Mans: Heroes of the World’s Most Famous Race
Ferrari 250 GTO, Berlinetta, Scaglietti, 1962, David MacNeil, USA.
Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, Spider, Fantuzzi, 1959, Peter Goodwin, USA.
Here comes the Sun: ‘Topless’ done differently!
Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California, Spyder, Pininfarina/Scaglietti, 1961, Keybridge Collection, Hong Kong.
Citroën SM Espace Heuliez, Targa Coupé, Henri Heuliez, 1971, Thierry Dehaeck, Belgium.
Trophy BMW Group Ragazzi
Through the Youth Poll
Winner: Ferrari 288 GTO, Berlinetta, Scaglietti, 1985, Horst Koester, Germany.
And the President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este /
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Chair / Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Chair
Winner: Ford GT40, Coupe, JW Automotive Engineering, 1968, Rob Walton, USA.
Trophy BMW Group Classic
For a more sensitive return by the jury
Winner: Rolls-Royce, Silver Wraith Drophead Coupe, James Young, 1949,
Yohan Poonawalla, India.
Trophy Rolls Royce
For the most prestigious Rolls-Royce by jury
Winner: Rolls Royce, Phantom Sports Model, Pilot,
Jarvis of Wimbledon, 1928,
Alexander Schaufler, Austria.
Trofeo Vranken Pommery
For the best car of the jury
Winner: Porsche 901 Prototype “Fast Blue”
The Concorso d’Eleganza is a million-dollar spectacle for the super-rich, but the millions on display are ultimately modern witnesses to the collective history of motoring. From this point of view, it is always exciting, despite the futile efforts, when many spectators get to see these cars once a year.