Villa d’Este Concorso 2021
Volume 46 Issue 22
Oct 23, 2021
Marc Sonnery goes to Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza to report on the exquisite Ferraris displayed on the shores of Lake Como.
Photography by Peter Singhof
After a one-year Covid hiatus the Grand Dame of Concours, the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza, took place again in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como with reduced guest and media attendance.
To keep things simple and reduce risk, the Sunday event at Villa Erba, which traditionally takes place the day after the main event at Villa d’Este, was cancelled outright.
There was no associated auction either; RM Sotheby’s usually holds an auction there on odd years alternating with its Monaco Historic Grand Prix sale.
Weather was good early in the weekend with a more leisurely schedule.
The schedule was modified since there was a free day as a consequence of the cancellation of the Villa Erba Sunday, so a touring rally was organized for entrants as well as Riva boat rides on the lake.
With the prediction of more inclement weather than the traditional May date, a marquee had been put in place on the hotel’s lakefront at the traditional presentation spot. It proved very useful as the heavens opened quite a bit.
Needless to say, one has to salute the commitment of the organizers, i.e., event sponsor BMW, and the participants to overcome industrial quantities of red tape, particularly for entrants coming from outside of Europe.
The judges included among others, Lord Charles March, fresh from his Goodwood Revival extravaganza; historian, Adolfo Orsi; former Pininfarina head of design, Lorenzo Ramaciotti; his colleagues ex-Renault design chief, Patrick le Quément; ex-Porsche, Harm Lagaay from Holland; and Ian Cameron (Rolls Royce).
There were more lady judges this year: Mariella Mengozzi, who is head of the national automobile museum in Turin; Quirina Louwman, from the famed collection in Holland, and former super model, Yasmin Lebon.
The preeminent Ferrari among eight entered was certainly the 1956 250 GT Tour de France, S/N 0507 GT of American Brian Ross.
0507 GT was completed in April 1956 in silver, with twin white central stripes framing a dark one.
It was sold to Milanese gentleman driver Ottavio Randaccio, who immediately competed in the following month’s Mille Miglia but did not finish. On June 2nd he had better luck finishing 2nd overall at the Coppa Lombarda in Monza.
A foray into Austria in May 1957 saw him compete in the Vienna Aspern International airport race where Randaccio came 4th overall. Back in Austria on August 17 at the Zeltweg airport international races (which took place before the construction of the permanent circuit in the hills above), he did not finish. His farewell event in 0507 GT was on September 7 at Monza for the Coppa InterEuropa where he finished 5th.
Another Milanese, Angelo Roma, then bought the car from him on January 8, 1959. He commissioned Scaglietti in Modena to update the nose to a non-standard covered headlight style. According to some accounts this was after an incident. The owner would entrust it to rising French rally star, René Trautmann, from Grenoble.
Trautmann would later be French rally champion in 1963 and win numerous major rallys in Citroën DSs including the iconic Tour of Corsica in 1961 and 1963.
Indeed, our man took no prisoners, winning overall on May 3rd at the St Antonin hillclimb, 1st in class on May 7 at another climb, la Gineste near Marseille. He also won his class in the Trophée de Provence on May 10.
The nose was then once again worked on, probably, but not certainly, due to some damage. The front end was then modified again, and it was entered in its namesake event, the Tour de France, starting September 18. Joined by codriver Gelé, with addional headlights in the nose grille, it did not finish.
0507 GT then passed to its third owner, once again Milanese, Maria Felicita Gattori. After that, the trail goes cold, and it went to Switzerland where the back end was modified in a bizarre manner not that uncommon on cars that were at the low ebb of their value curve.
After passing through the Basel area, it was bought by broker extraordinaire Rob de la Rive Box, the noted Dutch car book author who had settled in eastern Switzerland and became a fiend at locating interesting cars.
He would often bring a bottle of pear liqueur to the negotiation table and wait until the seller was much more imbibed than him before obtaining a convenient price!
He then found the TDF a very good home, by chance, as Danish Count Claus Ahelfeld spotted it along with a 300SL Gullwing while touring Switzerland. He bought both and took them to his stunning moated 16th century Egeskov Castle in Kvaerndrup.
There it sat for decades in what eventually became a museum until it was sold in May 2000 to New Jersey’s Sam Mann. A respected collector who had won Best of Show at Pebble Beach in 1978 with a Duesenberg, he had the TDF brought properly back to its former glory in an extensive restoration.
It was a duly rewarded effort as it won best of show first time out at the 2006 Cavallino Classic along with a platinum award. That August it won third in class at Pebble Beach.
Ten years later it was sold to Brian Ross of Ohio, the current owner. He also entered it earlier this year in the recent Concorso di Modena.
Another gem, and one rarely seen for good reason, was the 1960 250 GT California Spyder SWB S/N 1951 GT of the Destriero Collection in Monaco.
It certainly had an odd life. It was sold new to a Milanese company, then was acquired by a Frenchman for a few years.
Enter Tom Meade, the colorful designer of extremely modified Ferraris and well-known broker from Los Angeles, based in Modena at the time. He found the car in France for sale and pounced for a good price, taking it back to Italy, but this one he did not sell, instead he kept it for half a century.
While he may have used it early on, most of its life was spent in storage and by the time it was bought from Meade in 2009 in a very hush-hush transaction it was in derelict condition. The buyer was German Axel Pfeil.
It was first restored rather poorly and wrongly by an obscure little shop in Switzerland before being sold again by Pfeil in 2018 to Timm Bergold (owner of the impressive Destriero Collection). This time it was restored by one of the finest in the business, Cremonini in Lesignana, just outside Modena. It received its original subtle hue of Grigio Conchiglia, seashell grey.
A rare sight was the 1961 400 Superamerica S/N 2809 SA of Peter Goodwin from the USA. Only 35 Superamericas were made, sold only to the very wealthy and famous.
They were truly bespoke with many special features, haute couture on wheels. Fast wheels: with a four-liter Colombo V12, owners enjoyed 340 hp, only the equally rare Maserati 5000 GT could compete.
This is one of the 17 short wheel base cars produced, only seven of which had covered head-lights. It has the special distinction of being the only Superamerica built in alloy and has been drilled in various places for lightness, weight being a pet peeve of is first owner.
A fourth pedal was added to the left of the clutch to flash headlights on the Autostrada to clear traffic. Ferrari did refuse to install a 45 rpm record player under the dashboard though, something Maserati had done for VIP and Ferrarista Enrico Wax on a 5000 GT.
So who ordered this Superamerica? None other than Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, of Scuderia Serenissima fame. It stayed for many years in his stables as he travelled with it at a high rate of knots throughout Italy and to his Geneva and Paris residences as well as the French and Italian Rivieras. It was the perfect bespoke Grand Tourer for this famous jetsetter in a era that preceded speed limits and traffic.
Eventually it ended up being passed on to the Camellini family in Modena who had the distinction of founding the first ever Ferrari dealership, created by Mario, and continued by his son Umberto.
The 400SA stayed with them for decades and was shown by them at the 60th anniversary of Ferrari Concours at the Fiorano circuit across from the factory.
Finally, it changed hands in 2015 when acquired by Rick Workman of Florida. It then took part in major US concours with the highlight being a “Best Prepared Concours Ferrari Award” at the 2016 Finali Mondiali in Daytona, Florida.
A stunning 1967 275 GTB/4, 09551 GT, was entered by Italian Andrea Recordati.
Definitely one of those that has lived a very private life as little is known about it. It was sold new to Signor Molins in Italy and registered in Modena.
Cue a mammoth void of over a half-century until the next millennium where it appeared in 2019 at the Coys International Festival on British number plates.
Predictably, it then disappeared until Villa d’Este 2021, where it garnered a mention of honor in its class.
A 1973 365 GTB/4 registered in Hamburg, light blue with black interior, was brought by German Alexander Sator, but due to the abundance of rain, cars remained closed, and owners were rarely available to supply chassis number details including this one.
The biggest prancing horse gun this year in terms of performance was the 1981 512 BB/LM, S/N 34445 of German Alexander Rittweger. Delivered in 1981, S/N 34445 was sold new to well-known dealer and early Ferrari connoisseur, Ron Spangler, of Prancing Horse Farm in Maryland, USA.
He entered it in three editions of the Daytona 24 Hours from 1981 to 1983, with respected pro, Tony Adamowicz, sharing with Knoop the first year, but the car never finished the Volusia County twice-round-the-clock classic in its three attempts.
Likewise, it did not reach the checker in the 1982 12 hours of Sebring. After this, Spangler sold it in 1983 or 1984 to Bruce Vineyard of Georgia who entered it in two FCA national meets in 1984 and 1990, getting third in class in the concours in the latter event at Watkins Glen. It was at the time still all original.
It then passed on to new owner John Goodman, of Seattle, in the early 2000s. He would race it very extensively in the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge with a third place at the 2007 Cavallino Classic disc-brake race and another third that year at Sears Point.
There was one international outing the first year in 2006 when Goodman, co-driving with BB/LM expert driver Todd Morici, took part in the Le Mans Classic and got to experience the sleek wind tunnel crafted aerodynamics of the BB/LM on the very same ultra-fast circuit it had been created for.
Goodman also took part in several concours winning gold in its class at the 2006 Cavallino Classic and repeating the feat a year later. It carried some very fetching period sponsorship including that of a certain publication in Georgia.
In 2016 he sold it to German enthusiast Rittweger, from Munich. That July he took part in Le Mans Classic with Brit Hancock.
Modern Ferraris included a 1989 F40 brought by the Gemini Collection SRL and the most recent Maranellian, a black F50, owned by Italian Enrico De Marco.
The design award for concept cars and prototypes, a traditional feature at Villa d’Este which has seen many an important prototipo take its world premiere bow, did not disappoint. This year, the winner was ex-Ferrari partner Pininfarina with its Battista Hyper GT named after the company’s founder who many decades ago sat for lunch with Enzo Ferrari and struck one of the most legendary partnerships in automotive history.
One wonders what the two patriarchs would have made of this sleek...electrical 1900 hp 2300 Nm creation. One hundred and fifty will be offered to market.
The Coppa d’Oro was won via public referendum by a 1930 Lancia Dilambda while the Best of Show went to the 250 GT Tour de France 0507 GT of Brian Ross. Deservedly so.
One major Ferrari that was not entered in the Concorso but which could be found by those having the customary look around the parking lots, always a good idea at such events, was...a bona fide 250 GTO!
It was 3451 GT the ex-Lawrence Stroll. How often do you spot a GTO in a parking lot? Of course, only in Villa d’Este!
Non-Ferrari curiosities taking part in the Concorso included some truly unexpected sights such as one of the Howmet TX Turbine cars seen at Le Mans in the late 1960s, entered by Austrian dealer Egon Zweimüller.
The august walls of Villa d’Este had certainly never resonated to that kind of sound before! It won the ASI trophy for Best-Preserved Post-War car.
An extremely rare sight was the German 1993 supercar Isdera Commendatore with Mercedes V12. A ride fit for a James Bond villain and Eberhard Schulz.
Sometimes you just have to salute the opposite camp and Kudos must go to Lamborghini Polo Storico (their classiche department equivalent) for re-creating from scratch in stunning fly yellow livery of the original very first Countach Prototype which had been scrapped in period, after the mandatory crash test; a superb bespoke job since its shape, chassis and interior is totally different from production cars.
Needless to say, there just wasn’t the customary optimistic mood of spring but rather that of a last outing, stolen from the jaws of autumn, before the summer peters away, a last cocktail on the Como lakeshore before the low season winter break.
Next year things should be back to normal with a return to the traditional May date and nobody will mind that one bit!