Postcard from Cernobbio

Built in 1568 by Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, the Grand Hotel Villa D’Este nestles against the South Western shore of Lake Como, in the affluent town of Cernobbio, and first hosted the Concorso D’Eleganza on September 1st 1929.

Since 1999, BMW Group has been the primary organiser of this invitational only concours, bringing together approximately fifty of the globe’s most significant collectors/concept cars and for the last four years, an equally stunning motorcycle display.

Viewing is open to invited guests only on the Saturday, before the cars are relocated to the nearby Spazia Villa Erba (where the public selected Sunday’s overall winners) and as in 2011, RM Auction’s  Saturday evening sale this year, offered thirty-eight collectors cars, and two Cadillac powered motor launches - a third of which, had reserves exceeding €500k. With much to see in both locations, these were my highlights…..

- Born Gianoberto Maria Carlo Bugatti, better known as “Jean”, and Ettore Bugatti’s eldest son; he was a highly accomplished vehicle designer in his own right, responsible for the legendary 1932 Type 41 “Royale”, and bodies subsequently penned for the Type 57 Ventoux, Stelvio, and Atalante models. Owned by East-Coast USA based, fashion designer, Ralph Lauren for the last twenty-five years - 1938 Bugatti T57SC chassis #57591, is one of just four, so-called Atlantic coupe’s completed, using a body manufactured in elektron, which was first used on a concept car, designed by Jean Bugatti in 1935, dubbed the “Aerolithe”. Winner of six awards over the weekend, and one of the globe’s most coveted, and valuable collectors cars - much credit should go to Ralph Lauren, and his insurance company(!) for making it’s display possible.      

- Winner of Class F (“California Dreaming”), Peter Neumark’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS is just one of approximately sixteen built. A de-tuned, “race-car for the road” – the XKSS was conceived by Jaguar Cars Limited, as a means of recouping some of its investment, in the Le Mans winning “D-type’s” racing programme, by converting unused chassis, into road cars. Sadly on February 12th 1957, the Brown’s Lane, Coventry factory, was ravaged by fire, destroying multiple chassis, and completed D-type and XKSS cars. US actor, winner of the 1970 Sebring 12hrs and grade-one “petrol-head”, the late Steve McQueen, was a long-time XKSS owner, nicknaming his car “the green rat”….

- SIATA (Societa Italiana Auto Trasformazioni Accessori) was a Turin based, “tuning and parts” business, founded in 1926, by racer Giorgio Ambrosini. Producing their first car, the Fiat-based Amica in 1948, many collectors regard the similarly Fiat 8V powered convertible and hard-top 208S, as being one of the most collectible, European sports-cars, of the fifties. With just thirty-five built between 1953 and 1955, and most delivered new in America, by Los Angeles based, Ferrari racer Ernie McAffee…it’s no surprise that the owner of Solar Productions and lead-actor in both Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair, the aforementioned McQueen, also owned a 208S….. dubbing it his “Little Ferrari”..   


Trofeo BMW Group (Best in Show by the Jury)
Trofeo Auto & Design (Most exciting design by the Jury)
Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este (Best of Show by Public referendum at Villa d’Este)
Trofeo BMW Group Italia (By Public referendum at Villa Erba)
Trofeo BMW Group Ragazzi (By Young People’s referendum at Villa Erba)
Class B - Thoroughbreds

All won by 1938 Bugatti, 57SC Atlantic, Coupé - Ralph Lauren, USA

Class Winners and Mention of Honour:



Class Winner

Mercedes-Benz, 680S, Torpedo Roadster, Saoutchik, 1928, Paul Andrews, USA
Mention of Honour
Rolls-Royce, Phantom II Continental, Sedanca (3-Position) Drophead Coupé, Gurney Nutting, 1933, Jay Moore, USA
Class B



Class Winner

Bugatti, 57SC Atlantic, Coupé, Jean Bugatti, 1938, Ralph Lauren, USA
Mention of Honour
Mercedes-Benz, 500K, Spezial Roadster, Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen, 1936, Evert Louwman, NL


Class C

Class Winner
Ferrari, 500 Superfast, Berlinetta, Pininfarina, 1964, Lucas Laureys, B
Mention of Honour
Talbot-Lago, T26 Grand Sport, Cabriolet, Franay, 1949, Michael Kaufmann, A


Class D


Class Winner
Aston Martin, DB4 SS, Saloon, Touring, 1962, Jean-Pierre Slavic, CH
Mention of Honour
Aston Martin, DB4 GT, Coupé, Zagato, 1961, David Eyles, UK


Class E


Class Winner
Ferrari, 250 GT SWB, Berlinetta, Scaglietti, 1961, Destriero Collection, MC
Mention of Honour
Ferrari, 250 GT SWB California, Spider, Scaglietti, 1961, Claudio Caggiati, I

Class F

Class Winner
Jaguar, XKSS, Spider, Jaguar, 1956, Peter Neumark, UK
Mention of Honour
Siata, 208S, Spider, Motto, 1954, James Utaski, USA

Class G

Class Winner
Ferrari, 250 LM, Berlinetta, Pininfarina, 1964, Lionshead West Collection, USA
Mention of Honour
Ferrari, 250 GT Tour de France, Berlinetta, Scaglietti, 1958, Peter McCoy, USA

Class H

Class Winner
Lamborghini, 350 GTS, Spider, Touring, 1965, Emanuel Reich, A
Mention of Honour
Lamborghini, 350 GTV, Coupé, Scaglione, 1963, Albert Spiess, CH

Class I

Class Winner
Ferrari, Dino 166P/206P, Spider, Ferrari, 1965, Andreas Mohringer, A
Mention of Honour
Ferrari, 250 GT Tour de France, Berlinetta, Scaglietti, 1956, Martin Gruss, USA


Special Prizes


Trofeo FIVA

To the best preserved pre-war car
Rolls-Royce, Phantom I, OpenTourer Boattail, Jarvis, 1928, Alexander Schaufler, A

Trofeo ASI
To the best preserved post war-car
BMW, M1, Coupé, Giugiaro, 1980, Detlef Hübner, D

Trofeo Automobile Club di Como
To the car driven from farthest away
Bentley, S1 Continental, Drophead Coupé, Park Ward, 1959, Dean Kronsbein, D

Trofeo BMW Group Classic
For the most sensitive restoration by the Jury
Talbot-Lago, T14 LS Coupé, Letourneur et Marchand, 1956, David Buchanan, USA

Trofeo Rolls-Royce
To the most elegant Rolls-Royce by the Jury
Rolls-Royce, Phantom II Continental, Sedanca (3-Pos.) Drophead Coupé, Gurney Nutting, 1933, Jay Moore, USA

Trofeo Vranken Pommery
To the most iconic car, voted by the Jury
Porsche, 356 A, Speedster, Reutter, 1957, Ni Peng Loh, CHN

Trofeo Foglizzo
The best interior design by the Jury
Fiat, 8 V, Coupé, Rapi, 1953, Bruce Vanyo, USA

Trofeo Roeckl
For the best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger by the Jury
MG, Magnette K3, Sports Roadster, MG, 1933, Peter Briggs, AUS



RM Auction:
For RM Auctions second, biennial sale at Villa D’Erba - it had consigned no less than sixteen Ferrari’s and six Bugatti’s, alongside a diverse catalogue of the globe’s most important and collectible marques, displayed under two separate, adjacent superstructures. The auction was conducted in front of a one thousand seat, open grandstand, where top sale of the evening, was the 1953 Ferrari 340/375MM Berlinetta Competizione (€9.8 million, all prices incl Buyers Premium), followed by a limited production, 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB (€.2.1million) and the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show displayed Ferrari 275GTB (€1.1 million) - all Ferrari’s consigned, sold.  Also finding new owners, were a superbly restored, 1962 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster (€1.1 million) and comparable example of the fast-appreciating 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S (€492.8k). Click here for the complete results; on a night when RM Auctions achieved a “sell-through” rate of eighty-percent, revenues of  €27 million and a new world-record for a “closed”, Ferrari Berlinetta sold at auction.

Just enough time to “post” this, and head west to the Cheshire/Shropshire border for the sixth Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, where hopefully there will be several firsts…not least, that the sun will shine! See you there!