Villa d'Este is a wonderful place. Situated along the shores of picturesque Lake Como in northern Italy, every year the palatial grounds play host to the Concorso d'Eleganza that strips all that is mundane and industrial about a regular car show and lets the sun shine through. The annual show is sponsored by BMW, but mixes the finest concept cars of the year with the most beautiful classics – and will feature an auction for the first time – but there's always something new in store for the concours.
Last year it was Zagato's Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa – the one-off that preceded the recently-announced TZ3 Stradale. And this year Ferrari and Pininfarina will showcase a new coachbuilt custom at the lakeside exposition, alongside the likes of the Audi Quattro Concept, Infiniti Etherea, Rinspeed BamBoo and James Glickenhaus' P4/5 Competizione.
Dubbed the Super America 45, it picks up its name from the Ferrari back catalog with models based on the 400, the 410 and most recently the 575M. This latest one-off is tipped to be based on the 599 GTB Fiorano (or one of the myriad variants thereof), commissioned by a New York collector through Maranello's custom orders department and fitted with unique sheetmetal from Pininfarina.
The press release on the event confirms the Super America 45's participation, but indicates it's a six-cylinder car. Since Ferrari hasn't made a V6 since the Dino 246 went out of production 37 years ago, we'll chalk that one up to a mistake. As for what the 45 stands for when the first Superamerica was introduced in 1956 is beyond us. One way or another, we'll find out when the show opens later this month, so follow the jump for the press release and watch this space for more.
The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este sets out its road map for the future.
Munich/Milan. "The concept cars at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este represent a rare opportunity to see these prototypes in close proximity, outside the context of the dazzle of the international motor exhibition circuit, a chance to examine their details, features and form in the natural light close up in the reality of the outside world", said the President of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este and Director of BMW Group Classic, Karl Baumer at the press conference of the Concorso in Milan. "As fascinating essays in the automobile in the years ahead they are fully in the spirit of an event that, for over eighty years, has celebrated not only the history of personal transportation but also its future", Dott. Jean-Marc Droulers, President of Villa d'Este S.p.A. emphasizes. Some may be dead ends, others glimpses of the cars we will be driving 5, 10 or 20 years hence but all are offered here for the inspection of the visiting public to give their personal verdicts and decide which will be awarded Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este Design Award. The following vehicles are starting in this year's competition:
Ferrari Super America 45 (2011)
Convertible, 6 cilindri, 6000 ccm
A recent and fascinating trend in the rarefied world of top end Ferrari collectors is the commissioning of one off bespoke version of high end models from Italian coach builders. Several 'special clients' have approached Pininfarina (and others) in recent years to build uniquely styled cars, an idea that goes back to the fifties went customers like film director Roberto Rossellini had a special car built for his wife, Ingrid Bergman. The Villa d Este is the natural setting for the exposure of such special vehicles and as well as the Glickenhaus P4/5 this year we have this very special Ferrari Super America belong to the New York
Audi Quattro Concept (2010)
Fastback Coupé, 5 cilindri, 2500 ccm,
So up-beat was the Quattro Concepts reception at the Paris Motor Show last year that it seems highly likely a version of the car will eventually see production. It's tough, compact look is inspired by the short wheelbase Quattro Sport of the eighties and indeed the car was built to celebrate 30 years of the ground breaking four wheel drive Audi Coupe. Styled by Wolfgang Egger it is a fully functioning prototype based on an RS5 chassis but shorter by 150mm to give more agility and that chunky presence on its massive 20 inch wheels. It features light alloy and carbon fibre to save weight and in fact it weighs almost exactly same as the Quattro sport homologation special of the eighties.
Mercedes Benz Concept Shooting Break (2010)
Shooting Break, 6 cilindri, 3500 ccm
This concept takes its name from the traditional gun carrying cars used by the landed gentry for sporting pursuits but it is much more than just another estate car. With its powerful wheel arches – home to 20 inch wheels – and AMG style front grille it is essentially a variation on Mercedes successful CLS coupe/saloon theme, the squat roof extended into a load carrier with a fifth door. Strictly a four seater the shooting break has a modern take on traditional wood and leather treatments inside and is powered by a 306bhp 3.5 litre V6 petrol unit that is said to set new standards of economy in its class.
Infiniti Etherea (2011)
Coupé, 4 cilindri, 2500 ccm,
Introduced at Geneva this year the Etherea is a five door hatch back that manages to look like a 4 door coupe. With its futuristic and spacious cabin and aggressive stance this 245bhp hybrid drive cross-over is aimed at younger buyers than Infiniti's traditional demographic. One of its most pleasing features, giving an aura of cool spaciousness, are the 'clamshell' doors; in other words the rear doors are hinged on the rearmost pillar and open to reveal open plan access to the cabin – there is no centre pillar, a feature of many classic sedans of the 20s to the 50s.
Italdesign Giugiaro Go! (2011)
Ital Design/Giugiaro has a relationship with VW going back to the early seventies when it designed the bodywork for the firms first generation of water cooled models, the Passat, Polo and – most importantly – the first Golf. Now that the famous Italian styling house had been integrated into the VW group it was only natural that some exciting VW show cars would emerge. The GO! - shown alongside the sporty Tex at Geneva this year – is the latest ideas in the realm of the MPV, a genre Giugiaro virtually invented in the seventies with the Megagamma and the 1976 New York Taxi concept. Go! Is fully electric powered with battery packs under the seats offers large MPV space within a Passat sized wheelbase plus large glass areas and a full sized boot while retaining a resemblance to the rest of the VW family.
Rinspeed BamBoo (2011)
This extraordinary beach vehicle concept, powered by a 54kw electric motor, is designed to evoke memories of classic sixties and seventies fun cars like the Citroen Mehari and Fiat Jolly that one might have seen at St Tropez or other Riviera destinations. It can be open topped or, if it rains, there's a typical canopy. Designed in Switzerland and seen for the first time this year at Geneva its maker describes it as a 'grown up golf cart' with Bamboo elements to its interior and a dashboard that can display Face book pages.
Renault DeZir (2010)
This dramatic electric powered coupe is one of the spearheads of Renault's new more emotional design language under Laurens Van der Acker and is also a teaser for the brands future front end styling identity. It sets out to prove that electric powered cars don't have to be earnest and boring with an exciting sculptural shape in Kevlar over a lightweight frame and an ethereal interior that features that now rarely seen item – the bench seat! Behind it sits the cars motor a batteries which give a 100 mile range.
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus P4/5 (2011)
2 Door Coupé, 8 cilindri, 3996 ccm,
This one-off was built by Pininfarina as a personal project for the American film director James Glickenhaus. Based around the last unsold Ferrari Enzo it has been re-bodied in the style one of Ferraris 1960s P Series sports racing cars but with a futuristic feel that avoids retro clichés. The $4 million dollar project was revealed at Pebble Beach in 2006 and shown again at the Paris show that year. The seats were created around the dimensions of the owner and his son; his daughter chose the seat material. With 6 litres, 660bhp this 233mph vehicle was designed to be easier to use and service than the standard Enzo.
Hors Concours: MINI Rocketman and Rolls-Royce 102 EX
Traditionally the BMW Group takes part in the competition for prototypes and concept cars "hors concours", i.e. they will not be evaluated by the jury. This year two of the stars from the Geneva Auto-Salon will be shown on the Villa d'Este catwalk – the MINI Rocketman and the Rolls-Royce 102 EX.
The MINI Rocketman Concept combines traditional values with innovative technology to redefine the creative use of space which is a fundamental principle of the brand. As a 3+1 seater featuring a unique space concept, 3 doors and an exterior length of just over 3 metres, the highly regarded study points the way to the future in terms of individual driving fun in urban conurbations.
Rolls-Royce produces cars that represent the pinnacle in luxurious motoring for the world's most discerning customers. However, the company also recognises the need to look to the future and to plan for long-term sustainable growth. An investigation into alternative drive-train options is an important step in that process. With 102EX, also to be known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE), it is the company's intention to carefully test the opinions and reactions to alternative drive-train options of a range of stakeholders including owners, enthusiasts, members of the public and the media.
Pictures of the concept cars and prototypes can be found on the media sites of the manufacturers.
The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2011
On the weekend of 20 - 22 May 2011, the splendid grounds of the Grand Hotel Villa d'Este and neighbouring Villa Erba in Cernobbio on Lake Como will once again serve as a unique stage for the most beautiful cars and motorcycles from the past and the most extravagant concept cars of today. First held in 1929 at the same venue, the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este ranks today as the world's most traditional event of its kind.
Following the launch of the event for invited guests in the grounds of the Grand Hotel Villa d'Este on Saturday, the Concorso gives all car and motorcycle fans an opportunity to experience these dreams on two and four wheels in the park of the adjacent Villa Erba on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the cars and motorcycles already presented on the previous day, there will be numerous other high-end classics on display in special exhibitions.