The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Lake Como in Italy is a top Concourse d’Elegance event for showing elegant vintage and historic cars in Europe.
Each May, automobile enthusiasts may admire some of the most elegant vintage and historic cars and motorcycles in existence at the annual Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este held on the banks of Lake Como in Northern Italy. Private owners show off their special cars and motorcycles and compete for various awards. Visitors may see the motorcycles and cars on public days in the park of the Villa Erba or en route on the shores of beautiful Lake Como. A biannual auction of historic cars draws further interest in odd years.
Note for 2021 only: The Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza will take place from 1 to 3 October 2021 — access will be very limited and several of the regular public events were canceled. In 2021, all events will only take place inside the grounds of the Villa d’Este.
The Concorso d’Elegance Villa d’Este
The Concorso d’Elegance at Villa d’Este on the shores of Lago di Como in Northern Italy is one of the top annual classic car events in Europe. Owners of vintage and historic cars and motorcycles may enter the competition in several classes to compete for trophies and awards. Registration closes in January and only top cars are invited to attend.
The concours d’elegance at Villa Este is arranged annually over a weekend in May. The current format includes both cars and motorcycles that must be in exceptionally good condition to be accepted for entry. This concours also usually have special concept cars and prototype categories where manufacturers may show off new ideas.
The categories for historic cars change annually but with descriptions such as Graceful Open Air-Style, Interpretations of Elegance, The Art of Streamlining, La Dolce Vita, Gentleman’s Sports Cars, and Heroes of Le Mans it is obvious that run-of-the-mill cars are not exactly welcome.
The top price for entrants is the BMW Group Trophy awarded by an expert jury to the best of show car. The Coppa d’Oro is the most traditional prize and awarded by public vote – quite often it goes to the same car.
Historic Cars at RM Sotheby’s Auctions at Villa d’Este
Every odd year, RM Auctions arrange a public auction of top vintage and classic cars to coincide with the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa Este. In 2011, two of the top ten most expensive classic cars sold at auction were at Villa Este – a 1955 Ferrari 375 MM and a 1938 Talbot Lago T150C SS; both achieved over €3 million.
In 2013, RM Auctions had several star cars lined up including a 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I, 1930 Bugatti Type 46, and a rare 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupé Aerodinamico. However, the star of the show was an ex-works 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Pinin Farina Berlinetta ‘Competizione’ that sold for near €10 million. It was the fourth-highest price paid for a car at public auction in 2013.
In 2015, RM Sotheby’s offered 37 cars for sale including 11 that achieved results of a million euro or more. The top result was for a 1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta that set a new model auction result when selling for €6.7 million ($7.4 million).
In 2017, RM Sotheby’s top result was €3,360,000 paid for a super elegant 1937 Talbot-Lago T150_C SS Gouttte d’Eau (teardrop) Coupé.
Public Days at the Villa d’Este Concourse d’Elegance
While participants and guests can enjoy the luxury cars at relative tranquility at closed events in the grounds of the lavish Ville d’Este Grand Hotel, the general public can also view the cars and motorcycles on public days.
A program open to the general public is arranged at Villa Erba in Cernobbio near Villa d’Este. The program changes annually with attempts to make more events open to the general public as interest in the show increases.
Admission is free on Friday evenings to sales stands of vintage and classic car-related items. A free outdoor movie staring a BMW is screened. (The BMW Group, which includes Mini and Rolls Royce, is the main sponsor of the weekend and usually has some historic vehicles and concepts on display.)
Saturday is the motorcycles day at the Villa Erba with the historic bikes on display all day. Early morning, motorcycles will also drive with police escort in the area.
The main show day for the public is Sunday when the historic and special cars are also on display at the Villa Erba. The public can vote for the BMW Group Italia Trophy while the jury decides on the prestigious BMW Group Trophy and other awards.
The public can also see for free early morning or late afternoon when the historic cars are driven from Villa d’Este to the show grounds at Villa Erba. Events at the posh Villa d’Este Grand Hotel are only open to participants and friends.
Visiting and Tickets for the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance
The main event for the public is Sunday when admission to the Villa Erba park is around €15. On Saturday, admission is €10 while attendance on Friday evening is free. Tickets are available on the day from the public entrance to Villa Erba, Largo Luchino Visconti 4, 22012 Cernobbio, Como, Italy.
Admission to the grounds of the Villa d’Este Grand Hotel, where the main event on Saturday and the price gala dinner on Sunday are held, is only for participants and friends of the concourse. The general public is not allowed but can of course see the cars when they are driven from the hotel to the Villa Erba park early on Sunday morning.
In nearby Brescia, car enthusiasts can see more vintage cars in the Mille Miglia Museum.