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Things in the Inkwell: Villa d'Este 2017

TEXT: FRANCISCO CARRIÓN / PHOTO: UNAI ONA

Yes, we already know, the report has taken us too long. As a counterpart, and without serving as an excuse, we have been able to scrutinize more relaxed among the above. And it is that - we suppose - our readers should already know what it is about the famous contest. If not, we invite you to visit our reviews of previous editions, because this time we are going to focus directly on the participating cars.

In the - in our opinion - most interesting, either by characteristics or by its history. For example, a Lamborghini Miura may seem "normal" in a place like Villa d´Este, but the one that participated in the contest, decorated with curious green bands on its red body, had been released by the son of the creator of the literary saga 'Sherlock Holmes', Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. How could it be less, he was an eccentric playboy that it did not take long to pulverize the inherited fortune with whims.

The Abarth 1000 Bialbero 'Record Monza' bodied by Pininfarina in 1960, which smashed several records at the time, stood out on its own. Its unusual lines are more typical of a spaceship, although not even that was worth it to reap a prize, since it only obtained the honorable mention in the H-Class, dedicated to vehicles "Engineered for speed".

In Villa d´Este there are never missing several Ferrari special or unique, and in this case we wanted to highlight the 250 GT Europa Speciale from 1955, winner of its class despite the fact that many commented that its design was not exactly the most harmonious. It seems that that's what its first owner must have thought, a rich Roman businessman named Ferraio, who sold it for 30% less than what it had cost him new… Only a year and a half after launching it!

It's all a matter of taste, and if not ask who ordered the 365 Ferrari 4 GT / 1976 BB painted in a garish color "Green Germoglio". It was the only one originally served in this way, and this year it was presented fully restored in Villa d'Este by the specialist in the brand André Herklotz, who by the way is the son-in-law of the former owner of this unit.

Other participating cars whose paint schemes raised blisters They were the Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roasdter and the Ballot 3/8 LC from 1920. The former was decorated in a combination of matt gray (paint) and turquoise blue (interior), and was originally ordered by wealthy German industrialist Dr Kurt. Schneider, who presented it in society accompanied by a domesticated cheetah in 1958. The second was undoubtedly a magnificent car… except that a false patina had been applied to it, which in a Villa d´Este prestigious contest is totally out of place.

In contrast, a car that could not be faulted was the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Cabriolet bodied by Castagna in 1932, which won the prize awarded each year by voting by the - very wise - young public under 16 years of age. And also this car came from Spain, although its owner is of French descent.

The absolute winners of Villa d'Este 2017

Finally, we are going to comment on the absolute winners, that in Villa d´Este there are two, one for the public vote and the other for the specialized jury vote. The "Best of Show" (of the specialized jury) was for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS prototype from 1957. Already seen at Pebble Beach in 2016, and perhaps not “as special” as other cars present, this piece from the Corrado Lopresto collection also won another 4 awards in different categories. Curious.

On the other hand, the desired Coppa d'Oro (to the public vote) this year it fell to perhaps the strangest car of all those present in the contest: The Lurani Nibbio from 1935. It was conceived and built by Giovanni Lurani Cernuschi, Count of Calvezano, a character by himself worthy of a novel and who treasured hundreds of participations and records in motor racing between 1925 and 1956.

1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototype, Best of Show.
From this perspective the Nibbio looks like a toy.

His “Nibbio”, a tiny catfish equipped with a Moto Guzzi engine, set 8 international speed records in the 500 cc class in Dessau (Germany) in 1939. After the contest, and remotorized with a 250 cc Guzzi engine, he returned to smash another 8 international records in this new category at the Ostend circuit (Belgium).

After missing for many years, this year he has returned through the front door to Villa d'Este led by a 27-year-old named Federico Göttsche Bebert… who is none other than Count Lurani's great-grandson.

And although purely personal opinions should never be given, I cannot understand that a "cutie" like him Fiat 1100 Barchetta Frua 1946 may have been without any prize. It was presented for the first time after being perfectly restored, and sported a spectacular design - one of the first of its creator - that made a chassis as popular as a "Millecento" look like a jewel. It was the car that I liked the most, but no one seemed to share the same criteria at Villa d'Este.

RM Sotheby's auction and gallery at the end

To conclude, we must comment on the auction that one more year has held RM-Sotheby´s. On May 27, under a nice removable hangar you could see 45 cars, a Riva boat and, as a novelty, 20 motorcycles. Focusing on all four wheels, the top two prices were for two French cars made in 1937: a Talbot-Lago T150-C SS 'Goutte d'Eau' Coupé Figoni et Falaschi that fetched € 3.360.000 and a Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Prototype, with € 3.024.000.

As always, it is difficult to single out something among all the great and good that RM-Sotheby's offered, but perhaps what most caught our attention was a 'modern' 911 Porsche 3.8 Carrera RSR 1993. It was one of 51 built, and one of the only two with the interior fully upholstered. As if that were not enough, it had only 10 km on the scoreboard, and it was still covered by a layer of protective “Cosmoline”, apart from a lot of dust. All in all, he established a new auction record for the 964 with its € 2.016.000, although each new kilometer it travels could reduce part of its value.

In total, RM-Sotheby's pocketed € 25.355.859, a good result that nevertheless remained somewhat below the 26,7 million achieved the previous year. Don't forget to click on the huge photo gallery below!

All the photos of Villa d'Este 2017…

What do you think?

Francisco Carrion

Written by Francisco Carrion

My name is Francisco Carrión and I was born in Ciudad Real in 1988, a place that was not at first akin to vintage cars. Fortunately my grandfather, dedicated to the automotive sector, had friends who owned veteran cars and participated in the annual rally that was held (and continues to be held) in my hometown ... View all

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