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Villa d'Este 2022, 10 models that bear witness to their time

At Villa d'Este 2022, more than a hundred models belonging to the most exclusive in automotive history have been seen. However, we have chosen ten with the aim of making a global panorama. Of course, it has been inevitable to opt for daring prototypes and mechanically original models

Most of the cars exhibited at Villa d'Este 2022 are highly performing. However, the large number of pastel colors and exquisite cabins do not announce a sporty use of its engines. Obviously, being models designed for driving enjoyment, their mechanics can deliver considerable horsepower at the slightest touch of the accelerator. But still here We talk more about elegance and enjoying traveling than about speed and circuits. Thus, a large part of the more than 100 vehicles exhibited in this year's 2022 edition are true celebrations of good taste behind the wheel. Of course, with the permission of racing models such as the F40 LM, the Nissan R390 GT1 or the concise but vibrant BMW 700 RS.

Not in vain, since it began to be held in 1929, the Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance has been one of the best world showcases for the history of bodywork design. A place where the presence and charm of forms takes precedence over what might happen when lowering any checkered flag. Also, It is also one of the most suitable places for the appearance of prototypes and unique models.. Experimental design icons capable of marking an era. Like the Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti or the Aston Martin Bulldog. Two unique pieces with the ability to represent in themselves the prevailing design canons of the sixties -muscular shapes with curved volumes- and the eighties -straight lines with geometric shapes-.

In addition, at the Villa d'Este 2022 we have been able to see a good example of pre-World War II excellence. Machines of those in which everything was done without regard to expense. With very few print runs and a completely manual assembly to make each unit different from the others. And that's not to mention the assortment exposed in relation to the golden age of the GT. With the presence of an Alfa Romeo TZ1, a Ferrari 400 Superamerica and even the hypnotic Ferrari 250 GT bodied by Zagato. Certainly one of the "cavallinos” most admired and desired by any collector. However, at this point it is best to focus on a brief selection with ten models capable of adequately summarizing what was seen in this Villa d'Este 2022. Let's get to it.

THE REFINEMENT OF THE THIRTY YEARS

When the financial bubble burst on Wall Street in 1929, the great rising luxury brands of the XNUMXs seemed to falter. However, the truth is that only Bentley drastically changed its orientation when it fell into the hands of Rolls-Royce due to its fragile accounting. On the contrary, from Duesenberg in the United States to Bugatti in France, they managed to survive in splendor for at least a few more years. Of course, in the case of these two companies, the first ended up closing in 1937 while the second received a severe blow in 1939 with the death of Jean Bugatti - Ettore's heir - while testing a prototype.

Finals aside, it is irrefutable that many of the most fascinating high-end cars in history were born in the period between the Crash of 1929 and the start of World War II. A time when motorsport was still a matter of elites. Despite the fordist production started in 1908 already announced the future led by the generalist brands. At this point, at Villa d'Este 2022, a radiant 57 Bugatti Type 1936C Stelvio stood out, bodied with Art Deco details by Frenchman Gangloff. A convertible where not only the appearance is outstanding, but also the mechanics. After all, it was the first Bugatti model to be equipped with a supercharger.

Beyond performance vehicles but oriented to travel and recreation, this brand highlighted its models made by and for racing. In that sense, the Type 59 of 1934 caught our attention.

The latest model designed for the GP of the moment produced by Bugatti. In the case of this unit, it is presented with the marks and traces of the competition, generating a delicious patina respected by its restorers. Fantastic. Nevertheless, at the Villa d'Este 2022 other pre-war vehicles also showed off beyond the Bugatti. Especially those crowned by the Mercedes star. Brand with 5 units prior to 1940, highlighting the 540 K Special-Roadster.

Another one in the portentous saga of the Mercedes with eight cylinders of the thirties, counting here with a supercharger activated at will and by the driver's decision. And look at that. Because could suddenly unleash a 50% increase in power from the 5,4-liter engine making the K variants veritable wheeled missiles. In addition, its flowing lines represent one of the pinnacles of automotive design. Can you ask for more? Personally, we believe that this is the most fascinating piece among all those gathered at the Villa d'Este 2022.

However, considering the pure mechanical benefits we must recognize that perhaps the 710 SS was the one that took the cake. In the end It is a car created by and for racing.

With a supercharged 7,1 liter engine. Presented here, by the way, in the form of a really scary 1929 unit in scrupulous black. Seeing it roll at full speed on racetracks such as Terramar or Montlhéry had to be a first class show. Rolling it, by the way, had to be a face-to-face with the real possibility of making a fatal mistake. In any case, a true massive delivery of adrenaline.

THE FIFTY YEARS PARTY

When Fellini premiered La Dolce Vita in 1960, he not only signed one of the best films in history, but also the portrait of a hedonistic and decadent Italy in the behavior of its bourgeoisie. The chronicle of a world limited to certain areas of Rome, Milan and Turin where the carelessness of tomorrow sailed on the rivers of currency formed by the post-war economic recovery. Of course, at this point in the 500th century, thinking minds of mass motoring like Dante Giacosa had already put their particular signature on history with models like the FIAT XNUMX. Thank goodness.

A vehicle that seduces due to its excellent adaptation to the social reality of the moment, democratizing motorsports as the SEAT 600 would do in Spain. beyond the Lingotto factory there was a complex network of artisans of metal focused on the creation of unique pieces or, at least, in small series. In this way, that ruling class of the fifties took to the roads aboard seductive machines that were the product of that Dolce Vita. A market niche where beach cars based on the FIAT 500 appeared as experiments in hybrid aesthetics between Italian and North American.

In this sense, the Lancia Aurelia B52 B Junior bodied by Ghia is really interesting. One of the only two units made, which was found by surprise last 2009 in a warehouse in the United States. Incidentally, in a deplorable state. So to see it in excellent condition on display at Villa d'Este 2022 confirms the great restoration work carried out.

Of course, regarding the original aesthetics, it is better not to make judgments because we know that these can be very different depending on whether the rear or front overhang is admired.

However, isn't it more certain and true that what we have come to value here is exclusivity and elegance? Well, sometimes these have to have a kitsch point, however questionable it may be. And speaking of questionable things. Let's talk about the 1956 Chrysler-Boano Coupe. A well-known car for those who have investigated the biography of Gianni Agnelli. Although he himself took great care to hide his ties with him. Not in vain, he gave it to his brother Umberto since yes, it was bad to see the leader of FIAT driving a Chrysler no matter how much he was dressed by the Italian Boano.

It goes without saying that this is a unique piece. One of those in which the mechanical identity of the North American high-end - a lot of push from low revs to have a margin of response even while driving calmly - is combined with the elegance of the Italian style. Of course, in Villa d'Este 2022 there was also room for creations with certain outlandish extravagances in their design.

The best example was represented by the 404 Bristol 1953 Prototype with its rear fin splitting the moon in two for aerodynamic purposes. An experimental unit that the president of that brand with aeronautical interests used as a mule for different mechanics for a year. In short, a true icon in the history of British prototypes.

ESSAYS THAT DEFINE AN ​​ERA

Following the thread referring to the prototypes proposed by the Bristol 404, at the Villa d'Este several stood out, among which we will choose two. The first is the Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti from 1966. A choice that cannot surprise any regular reader of this magazine. Well, just like in the town of Amanece, which is not Little, they professed a true devotion to Faulkner, it is known that on this side of the keyboard we have it by Aldo Brovarone. One of the best designers in the history of Pininfarina. Responsible for signing many of those prototypes that have paved the way for serial production.

In this sense, his most celebrated contribution is the 206 GT Speciale on which the later berlinetta Dino was based. One of the designs that, together with the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale Tre Posti, best define the muscular volumes of the sixties. Giving testimony in addition to the transit made to the central engine in high-ranking sports cars. And that's not to mention the care for the aerodynamics, the low center of gravity or the flashes of futuristic American aesthetics on a European design base - something in which Brovarone was a genius in the sixties. Also, the Tre Posti mounted the driving position right in the center. Escorted by two seats which years later would make the McLaren F1.

In short, a jewel of motorsports on which we will have to do a calm article. Narrating the key role of Gianni Agnelli in its birth, encouraged by the commercial instinct of the Ferrari importer in the United States, Luigi Chinetti. Enzo Ferrari, in an unsurprising way, always refused to accept this Brovarone design. Things of a man who seldom allowed himself to be advised. Although, in those years, he fortunately accepted what was designed by a young Mauro Forghieri.

Italian brawls aside, at Villa d'Este 2022 we had the opportunity to see one of the best British prototypes of all time. The Aston Martin Bulldog from 1979. A design that very well synthesizes everything that was happening at that time. Dominating a transition towards the straight line and the geometric volume that Bertone saw coming very well. However, in the case of the Bulldog the goal was not aesthetic but performance. It was made to try to overcome the barrier of 200 miles per hour top speed. Come on, 321 miles an hour. A speed rarely seen in a model that was not made for the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans.

In his time he did not succeed. Although now it has been restored, having a new appointment with its target throughout this summer. We'll see what happens. Although for now the Aston Martin Bulldog with its central beam chassis -Lotus style, Alpine style- won the trophy at Villa d'Este 2022. The resolution of this contest, reaching a point where we could leave the article with this logical end point. However, we must remember that the Villa d'Este has been possible in recent years thanks to the fact that BMW has taken charge of it. For this reason, it is worth naming some of the models of the German brand present in this 2022 edition.

VILLA D'ESTE 2022, CLOSING WITH A WIDE RANGE OF BMW MODELS

From a 507 to an M1 Procar passing through the 320 Group 5 of the Jägermeister team, BMW brought an imposing panoply of historical models to the Villa d'Este 2022. However, as before we talked about our predilection for Aldo Brovarone, now we must emphasize the taste for small sports cars with two cylinders. Something that perhaps some reader of the magazine will know just by remembering articles like the one we dedicated to the Toyota Sports 800. Thus, the truth is that there is no doubt about the importance of the 700 BMW 1959. A small vehicle that helped in a key way to balance the precarious accounts of the German house. Marking the turning point for it to come out of the real danger of disappearing or being absorbed by Daimler.

Also, in 1961 the RS version was developed. A clever sports model for hill racing based on a tubular chassis covered by aluminum panels. His weight is set at just 600 kilos. In short, a true implementation of that "don't give me horses, take weight off me". One of the maxims of competition engineering during the 2022th century, with which we end this review of what Villa d'Este XNUMX has been. Without a doubt, one of the best events to contemplate the cream of the automotive creation at throughout history.

Photographs: Unai Ona

What do you think?

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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