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Show Review: Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2013

Tue, 04 Jun 2013

Firmly among the top three classic car events in the world – arguably alongside UK's Goodwood Festival of Speed and USA's Pebble Beach – Italy's Villa d'Este is perhaps the most design-led of the three and took place again on the beautiful shores of Lake Como last weekend (24-26 May).

Less is more at Villa d'Este, with only 49 classics up for the coveted ‘Best of show' prize and another seven modern concepts vying for a separate award. It's all about quality not quantity. 2013 was a particularly vintage year as Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group design boss (and also involved in the selection process as BMW is an event sponsor) explains: "There were almost too many to choose from this year. The number of entrants [56] was similar but the quality was exceptionally high. There were three times as many applicants as room, and it's hard to deselect cars as the owners of these pretty cars are not used to hearing the word ‘no.' You can't tell them that their car is not beautiful enough, as obviously they are."

Classic motorbikes were also in attendance as well as an ultra-exclusive auction on the Saturday night – at sister venue Villa Erba five minutes' boat ride away – that saw some eye-popping bids, not least a rare Ferrari race car that went for nearly £8.5 million! Car Design News made an effort and put on a jacket to chat with wealthy car collectors, designers and automotive royalty to bring you 2013's design (and fashion!) highlights...

Fresh from the short boat ride to Villa d'Este's jetty on Saturday morning, the first cars we stumble upon are the newer concepts. The BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso is being wheeled into view after the previous night's global unveil and the heads of each firm – Pininfarina's Fabio Filippini and BMW's Karim Habib – are happy to chat. "We showed BMW plenty of ideas", says Filippini, "and together we finalised the idea of doing a luxury coupe because it's probably the most legitimate concept or archetype for Pininfarina and BMW to do." (See CDN's separate story on the concept's design development).

Only recently unveiled at the Nurburgring, this was Car Design News' first chance to see the Aston CC100 concept up close. The well-resolved design has great fit and finish and is a fitting tribute to 100 years of the luxury brand – the yellow exterior accents and leather interior detailing being particular highlights.

We bumped into designer Miles Nurnberger responsible for the exterior of the Aston CC100 concept and asked him to sum up why Villa d'Este is so special. "It's all about the craftsmanship, the details and the simplicity of the old cars", he says. "The upturned seam and rivets on the Ralph Lauren Bugatti [57SC Atlantic] are amazing. Normally you'd hide that, but they turned it into a feature. Out of the concepts I thought Touring Superleggera gave the new Disco Volante a good shot too." He's either a seer or just shares the taste of the judges, as both cars went on to win their respective classic and concept categories at this year's Villa d'Este.

Villa d'Este event is rarely short of Alfas. Here are two more modern interpretations of the passionate Italian brand – the 2011 TZ3 Stradale by Zagato (yellow, left) and the ‘2013 Villa d'Este best concept'-winning Disco Volante by Touring Superleggera (first shown at this year's Geneva Motorshow).

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By Guy Bird