Ralph Lauren’s Bugatti Atlantic stars at Villa d’Este

| 28 May 2013

When other exhibitors saw Ralph Lauren’s stunning 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic on the entry list, they must have given up any hope of top prizes at the Concorso d’Eleganza Ville d’Este on 25 May.  

Several years ago the American fashion legend cancelled his entry, disappointing organisers who had made the black Art Deco beauty the feature of the printed poster design. But all was forgiven this year as an emotional Lauren embraced the world’s oldest concours.

“When I started my business buying ties in Italy in the ’60s I used to come here, so it’s great to return with my family and the Atlantic,” enthused Lauren, whose Bugatti won Best in Show. “I don’t bring it out very often, but this is a very special event.”

No Villa d’Este concours would be complete without a stunning group of Ferraris and the highlight this year was the roadgoing 250LM ‘6025’ making its return to Europe for the first time since its 1965 debut at the Geneva Show.  

Owned for many years by Luigi Chinetti, founder of NART (North American Racing Team), and dramatically presented in American-style racing colours of white with blue stripes, this low-mileage sensation has many unique features including a flip-up roof panel, electric windows and bumpers.

“We’re hoping to keep it in Europe so Goodwood can use it as the pace car for the Revival meeting,” said specialist Malcolm Welford who presented the Ferrari for the Lionshead West Collection. “The biggest problem driving it is that you can’t see a damn thing out of the rear window, but it must have sounded amazing around New York in the ’60s.”

Even less practical was Corrado Lopresto’s wild Lancia Sibilo. The 1978 concept was Marcello Gandini’s vision for a Lancia Stratos of the future and many features including the wheels are made of wood.

“They broke into pieces as soon as we started to move it,” said Lopresto. “It later inspired the movie stylists on Total Recall. I love the details, particularly the digital instrumentation and round opening side windows.”

Also making a return to Italy was the immaculate Aston Martin DB4 convertible registered ‘163 ELT’. On its last visit, it came close to being dropped over a 1000ft ravine in the Alps during the filming of The Italian Job.  

Owner Brian Morrison couldn’t make the event but he invited stuntman David Salamone who played Dominic – one of the Mini Cooper drivers in the comedy classic – to present the car.

“The only reason the Aston survived is that we accidentally triggered the explosives when lifting it over the roadside wall,” recalled Salamone. “I had to rush overnight to Milan to find a replacement and we ended up disguising a Lancia Flaminia for the scene.”

Few were more happy at the Lake Como-based event than Ed Stratton, music producer and lifelong fan of The Persuaders!, who entered the very DBS driven by Roger Moore in the TV series.

“Aston disguised it as a V8 because the new model wasn’t ready, but they appreciated the publicity. It would have been great to reunite it with the Dino, but the Italian owner isn’t interested in the TV connection.” Inside the boot, Stratton proudly showed the signatures of Tony Curtis and Moore. 

The ‘Prancing Horse vs Trident’ class featured a fabulous trio of open-top Maseratis contrasting Frua and Zagato body styles on the A6G chassis.

Belgian collector Roland d’Ieteren, and owner of the revived Touring company, chose the prestigious Italian event to show his newly finished A6G/54, which was discovered in Sweden at a gliding school where the rear of the stylish Frua body had been cut away for a towing rig.  

The d’Ieteren family has a long tradition of coachbuilding that dates back to the 19th century. Several cars had completed the Mille Miglia the previous weekend, the very wet event leaving crews a challenging job to detail cars for the concours.

Australian Peter Briggs was on great form, having successfully returned his famous MG K3 to Italy for the first time since its impressive class win on the 1933 Mille Miglia. Briggs collected Best Presented Team for his period gear and authentically detailed K3, right down to the Marchal foglamps that were fitted the night before the race.

“Lurani had battery problems in ’33 because the extra lights drained the battery on the event, and the same thing happened to us,” recalled Briggs. “It doesn’t get more authentic than that. It was fantastic to bring this famous car back to Italy where it beat the Maseratis on home ground.”

The supercharged 1087cc straight-six sounded so crisp as Briggs roared up to collect his trophy.

Daniel Marachin’s 1951 Farina-bodied Jaguar MkVII.

The 1955 Bandini 750 Siluro of Alex Vazeos.