► Villa d'Este 2017 blog
► Gallery of cars and more
► Our guided tour
The Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este is one of the glitziest and most prestigious events in the motoring calendar.
Running on and off since 1929, the Concorso d’Eleganza event had been put to bed by 1951, as the desire for coachbuilt cars dried up. It was jump-started again in 1995, and BMW Group has been the patron of the event since the late Nineties.
The 2017 event saw millionaires rub shoulders while the Italian sun beats down onto Lake Como and Villa d’Este beside it. Revving engines, helicopters overhead, speedboats blistering past and the smell of petrol are all part of the experience for the fortunate automotive glitterati out there.
Okay, that’s enough of the fluff. It’s very fancy, but so much so that a hack and regular human being like myself found it equal parts amazing and OTT. Moments of awe were matched by moments of cynical eye-rolling at the excess on display.
Let’s take a look at some of the weird and wonderful moments from the glitzy concours show…
Even entering is a spectacle
BMW lined a whole street with little branded flags for those travelling to the show – much to the confusion of the locals.
The location is genuinely beautiful
Villa d’Este is on the very edge of Lake Como – so much so that it has a floating pool where you can jump straight into the lake. The majority of the event took place in the courtyards and gardens of the Villa.
You’re a nobody if you don’t arrive by yacht
The marina was only small, but it was packed with high-end yachts and speedboats. We counted at least six Riva yachts all lined up next to each other.
The cars are immaculate
So much so that you could check yourself out in the reflection.
Stars included this Bentley 4 1/2 Litre
This is the ‘Birkin Blower’ Bentley: a racing car developed by Sir Henry Birkin. It won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1929.
The Concept 8-series got a lot of attention
Revealed at Villa d’Este, the BMW Concept 8-series previews the next-gen luxury coupe. While this was revealed here, BMW teased us with an M8 prototype at the Nurburgring on the same weekend.
Rolls-Royce is coachbuilding again
This enormous navy blue yacht-on-wheels is the Rolls-Royce Sweptail. It’s a one-off car designed for one of RR’s ‘most valued customers’…
The Sweptail shows the future of luxury
It may look like a regular peasant’s Rolls-Royce from the front, but this rear end shows that RR can still make unique one-offs if approached by the right client. And yes, that is its number plate.
RR’s CEO made some big claims
‘Sweptail is probably the most expensive new car… ever.’
The Sweptail won’t just sit in a garage, either
In either the biggest coincidence ever or a neatly-timed PR stunt, we spotted the Sweptail driving out of Como the day after the concours. Apparently, the mysterious owner grabbed the keys after it was revealed to the public and started a huge European road trip in his new wheels.
The fraud police were out in force
Back at the show, Italy’s Guardia de Finanza (literally ‘Finance Guard’ in Italian) were probably making the odd millionaire sweat a bit more than just due to the hot sun…
90 years of motoring history was there
Everything from Hispano Suiza royalty chariots, to Maserati racers, to cars owned by celebrities were on show.
But it wasn’t just history…
The odd concept car or two were peppered about, including the Renault Trezor and Techrules Ren.
Headgear wasn’t in short supply
Almost everyone wore one of these.
The people’s choice was a good choice
This Lurani Nibbio from 1935 put-put-putted its way into the parade audience’s hearts, winning the Coppo d’Oro, or 'Gold Coin'. While an official jury was handing out awards, this cheeky little car stole the attention of the crowds.
Check out our review of the BMW 3.0 CLS Hommage, a previous Villa d'Este debutant