Concorso d’Eleganza | Recap & Winners

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Classic Beauties on Lake Como

Every year since 1929, the landscape surrounding Lake Como in Italy hosts the big classic event with special international automotive beauties – the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

The event brings a unique combination of rare and valuable models that parade to Lake Como to win the prizes awarded by the jury and the large audience, made up of experts and enthusiasts.

Protagonists of the competition are the historical classic cars: this makes it even more unique and fascinating context, not only for the beauty of the place (not far from MotoGP’s Ben Spies resided when he landed in Europe in 2009), but also for the absolute uniqueness of the combination of vehicles that are seen simultaneously: all together to be admired and compared, as can easily happen elsewhere.

Starting in 2011, by the will of the organization, the competition was extended to two wheels, even if the two worlds are very different. The vintage bikes come in Cernobbio on Friday and ride the streets by the lake, and they flow together and are exposed only in the gardens of Villa Erba (not far from Villa d’Este, less noble and less extensive, but certainly nice). Get a boat-shuttle between the two houses, and you see unique and highly valuable historic cars and motorcycles, combined with some concept models.

This second edition of the competition for historical motorcycles has seen the triumph of the 500 Gilera Rondine, the Italian bike awarded the First Prize by the jury (the Best of Show). The award was presented by no other than Hendrik von Kuenheim, president of BMW Motorrad.

A great success for the “second” of bikes in Cernobbio, unlike the first edition in 2011, which was a key break in the very historic, with niche models. This year we could see a wide range of motion all very significant, divided into categories, which ranged in the various years of the last century, including both prototypes (BMW, Ducati, MV just to name a few), vehicle mass well known (as Vespa) and also some racing bikes.

Almost all these motorcycles, led by the legendary BMW 500 Kompressor, marched in a procession. Several factors contribute to the evaluation of motorcycles under review. In addition to the general state of restoration and originality of the model, the jury also judges aesthetic aspects. Over the decades, the key points of the design has changed several times.

The variety of motorcycles at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2012 have been divided into five classes: Class A, Roaring Twenties; Class B, Stylish Thirties; Class C, Swinging Fifties; Class D, Launch Into The Future; and Class E, Racing Through the Decades. The jury of the Competition Motorcycles consisted of four experts: Carlo Perelli, the doyen of Italian motorcycling press; Hugo Wilson, editor of Classic Bike; Paul d’Orleans, San Francisco interior designer; and journalist Raffaele Zaccagnini, Director of Centrostile Husqvarna Motorcycles.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the world speed record in 1937 by Ernst Henne (279.5 km / h), the BMW Museum brought its compressor motorcycle to the show, a fully faired bike with a vertical shaft. Also of interest is the scooter BMW R10 1950s (currently there are only two copies of the prototype with small wheels).

The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2012 Best in Show Winner: Gilera Rondine 500

The Gilera Rondine 500 was created in 1939 with a 4-cylinder engine of 499 cm, the motorcycle arriving straight from Piaggio Pontedera Museum. The line of the cylinders transversely tilted forward and the liquid cooling and compressor are some of the basic features of CNA Rondine, presented in 1934 by the National Aeronautics Company.

After participating in some races and breaking some lap records, in 1937 the project was taken over by Gilera. The Arcore factory, which had produced a complete range of various single-cylinder, saw a chance to triumph on the track with the rival Moto Guzzi. This happened in 1939 when Dorino Serafini won the European Championship for Gilera, thereby giving great prestige to the brand beyond the Italian borders.

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2012 Other winners:

  • Best in Show: Gilera (I) Rondine 500 1939
  • CLASS A – ROARING TWENTIES: Koehler-Escoffier (F) Tourisme, 1925, Michael Paula (Austria)
  • CLASS B – STYLISH THIRTIES: Zündapp (D) K 800, 1934, Giulio Caimi (Italy)
  • CLASS C – SWINGING FIFTIES: Maico (D) Taifun 400, 1955, Karl-Heinz Rehkopf (Germany)
  • CLASS D – LAUNCH INTO THE FUTURE: BSA (GB) Rocket 3, 1968, Heribert Corn (Austria)
  • CLASS E – RACING THOUGH THE DECADES: Gilera (I) Rondine 500, 1939, Museo Piaggio Pontedera (Italy)

Photos by Andrea Corbetta