Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

Meet the 8 Finalists for the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award at Monterey Car Week

Meet the 8 Finalists for the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award at Monterey Car Week

There’s good. There’s better. And then, there’s best. But what about the best of the best? This is something we know a lot about at Robb Report. Epitomizing the tippy top of the winningest winners is a tough business, a task the Peninsula Hotels takes seriously by appointing the pinnacle of classic cars from the world’s top concourses every year at Monterey Car Week from their Quail Lodge & Golf Club property in pastoral Carmel Valley, California.

This time around the selection is predictably epic, covering an eclectic gamut of exceptional vehicles. First up: the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione which scored the Best of Show prize at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. This jaunty rapscallion is one of nine built, and competed in the Mille Miglia only five days after it was delivered.

Next, another silver fox from Maranello, the 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France, which was originally owned by racer Pierre Noblet. In spite of—or likelier because of—its extensive race history between 1958 and 1960, the car was purchased for a boggling $1,500 in 1975. One complete restoration (and many years) later, the Ferrari won Best in Show at the Cavallino Classic.

On the even jauntier side is the 1974 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale, which is one of only 500 road-going cars which were built for World Rally Championship homologation. Restored by Carrozzeria Dino Cognolato, this HF scored the top prize at the Goodwood Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance, and is widely considered to be one of the world’s top examples.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A. 

The Peninsula Signature Events

Three of this year’s finalists are 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 Ks, pointing to the model’s vaunted status in the concours microcosm. The high-speed tuned Mercedes-Benz 540 K Autobahn-Kurier is the only one of its kind on the planet, and won the 70thPebble Beach Concours d’Elegance; the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster boasts a disappearing top and suicide doors (not to mention its Best of Show award at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering); and rounding out the embarrassment of Mercedes-Benz riches is the 540 K Cabriolet A, whose supercharged inline-8 engine endowed it with an impressive triple-digit top speed, which didn’t hurt its chances of winning Best in Show at the Salon Privé Concours.

Hailing from the Amelia Island Concours’ top spot is a stately 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet, whose wildly varied ownership history includes the King of Tunisia, the 12 Hours of Sebring founder, and a Long Island mail man. Last, and certainly not least, is the 1934 Avions Voison Type C27 Aérosport Coupe, one of only two C27s built. Miraculously, this specimen was saved from being sold for scrap metal and restored in 2004 by Dominique Tessier, who rebuilt the Hampton Court Palace Concours winner from just three reference photos of the original.
Which of these exquisite vehicular specimens will be standing atop this impossibly elegant dogpile of classics? Tune in Sunday, August 14 to find out which of these most exquisite finalists earns the Best of the Best award.
 Click here to see all photos of the finalists of the Peninsula Classics. 

The Peninsula Signature Events

8 Gorgeous Classic Cars Vying for One of Monterey Car Week’s Most Prestigious Awards

8 Gorgeous Classic Cars Vying for One of Monterey Car Week’s Most Prestigious Awards

There’s good. There’s better. And then, there’s best. But what about the best of the best? This is something we know a lot about at Robb Report. Epitomizing the tippy top of the winningest winners is a tough business, a task the Peninsula Hotels takes seriously by appointing the pinnacle of classic cars from the world’s top concourses every year at Monterey Car Week from their Quail Lodge & Golf Club property in pastoral Carmel Valley, California.

This time around the selection is predictably epic, covering an eclectic gamut of exceptional vehicles. Below, see the eight elite finalists.

1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione

The Peninsula Signature Events

This beauty scored the Best of Show prize at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. This jaunty rapscallion is one of nine built, and competed in the Mille Miglia only five days after it was delivered.
1957 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France

The Peninsula Signature Events

Another silver fox from Maranello, the 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France was originally owned by racer Pierre Noblet. In spite of—or likelier because of—its extensive race history between 1958 and 1960, the car was purchased for a boggling $1,500 in 1975. One complete restoration (and many years) later, the Ferrari won Best in Show at the Cavallino Classic.
1974 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale

Amy Shore

On the even jauntier side is the 1974 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale, which is one of only 500 road-going cars which were built for World Rally Championship homologation. Restored by Carrozzeria Dino Cognolato, this HF scored the top prize at the Goodwood Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance, and is widely considered to be one of the world’s top examples.
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Autobahn-Kurier

Three of this year’s finalists are 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 Ks, pointing to the model’s vaunted status in the concours microcosm. The high-speed tuned Mercedes-Benz 540 K Autobahn-Kurier is the only one of its kind on the planet, and won the 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster

The Peninsula Signature Events

The Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster boasts a disappearing top and suicide doors (not to mention its Best of Show award at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering).
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A. 

The Peninsula Signature Events

Rounding out the embarrassment of Mercedes-Benz riches is the 540 K Cabriolet A, whose supercharged inline-8 engine endowed it with an impressive triple-digit top speed, which didn’t hurt its chances of winning Best in Show at the Salon Privé Concours.

1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet

The Peninsula Signature Events

Hailing from the Amelia Island Concours’ top spot is a stately 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet, whose wildly varied ownership history includes the King of Tunisia, the 12 Hours of Sebring founder, and a Long Island mail man.
1934 Avions Voison Type C27 Aérosport Coupe

The Peninsula Signature Events

Last, and certainly not least, is the 1934 Avions Voison Type C27 Aérosport Coupe, one of only two C27s built. Miraculously, this specimen was saved from being sold for scrap metal and restored in 2004 by Dominique Tessier, who rebuilt the Hampton Court Palace Concours winner from just three reference photos of the original.
Which of these exquisite vehicular specimens will be standing atop this impossibly elegant dogpile of classics? Tune in Sunday, August 14 to find out which of these most exquisite finalists earns the Best of the Best award.
 Click here to see all photos of the finalists of the Peninsula Classics. 

The Peninsula Signature Events

The Aston Martin Bulldog’s Win at Villa d’Este Could Signal a Shift in Stuffy Car Shows

The Aston Martin Bulldog’s Win at Villa d’Este Could Signal a Shift in Stuffy Car Shows

A survey of the winners at the world’s most discerning classic-car competitions typically reveals elegant dowagers from long-lost eras. At the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the world’s oldest car concours at 93 years and counting, top prizes are divided among two winners, and this year, one did not fit the usual mold. The renowned event, which had its 2022 edition take place last weekend, is put on by the Villa d’Este hotel, flanking Italy’s Lake Como, and the BMW Group. Its Trofeo BMW Group Best of Show victor is plucked by a predictably persnickety gaggle of white-hatted judges who dissect the provenance, appearance and operation of automotive entrants with a fine-toothed comb.

This year’s recipient of the honor was a 1937 Bugatti 57S, an aesthetically flawless black and grey example that fits the ideal image of a concours winner to a tee. Along with a short list of surefire beauties, which includes the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B and virtually any Figoni & Falaschi or Saoutchik-bodied prewar roadster, the Bugatti wouldn’t be out of place at other top-tier affairs like Pebble Beach, Chantilly Arts & Elegance or Amelia Island.

The 2022 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the shoreline of Italy’s Lake Como. 

Gudrun Muschalla, courtesy of BMW AG.

The other big prize at Villa d’Este is the Coppa d’Oro, which is chosen by the public— in this case, “public” being a tad deceptive since attendees of Villa d’Este consist of a modest assemblage of enthusiasts who pay nearly $600 a head, and a thin slice of media. The day of judgment is, quite frankly, among the least grueling tasks in the classic-car world, involving intimate visual contact with the 50 or so historical competitors which are arrayed on the grounds of the baronial resort now entering its 150th year in operation.

The 1979 Aston Martin Bulldog, winner of this year’s Coppa d’Oro award. 

Gudrun Muschalla, courtesy of BMW AG.

For 2022, the Coppa d’Oro winner was the Aston Martin Bulldog, a pugnacious one-off wedge with straight-edge lines that put it in stark contrast to much of the field’s curvaceous French mainstays. The Bulldog debuted in 1979 as Aston’s moonshot concept car intended to pave the way for a small series of production vehicles. The first—and until very recently, the only—mid-engine Aston Martin, the Bulldog promised an apogee of sorts for the British brand: a true 200 mph gentleman’s express that combines a twin-turbocharged 650+ hp V-8 with showy features like electrically operated gullwing doors, a hideaway panel revealing a bank of programmable headlamps and a cushy veneer-lined cabin—filled with Connolly leather—that defies the severity of its sharp-edged bodywork.

The Bulldog’s story is an endearing one which includes every hallmark of underdog survival: A carmaker burdened by enough chronic financial distress to botch the potential of serial production, 35 years of dormancy and tumultuous stewardships which included one owner whose unfortunate mis-shift at nearly 170 mph nearly destroyed the car. The Bulldog’s new lease on life came with current owner Phillip Sarofim, who acquired the William Towns–designed two-seater and promptly commissioned a thorough ground-up restoration. Performed by Classic Motor Cars, in Shropshire, England, the 6,000-hour, 18-month project was led by Richard Gauntlett, son of Victor Gauntlett who served as Aston Martin’s executive chairman between 1981 and 1991.

Showy features include electrically operated gullwing doors, a hideaway panel revealing a bank of programmable headlamps and a cushy cabin of Connolly leather. 

BMW AG

Though Villa d’Este has long featured a separate class of contemporary concept cars, the Bulldog’s Coppa d’Oro win marks new ground for the nearly century-old event: Not only is it the youngest car to ever take the award, the 1970s icon flies in the face of the familiar Bugattis, Delahayes, Hispano-Suizas and the like which typically dominate the world’s top contests. Considering it took Pebble Beach 64 years to award a Ferrari Best in Show, the Bulldog is, for lack of a more imaginative reference, less your grandfather’s top pick and more what your 13-year-old self might have doodled as the world’s greatest car in the margins of your math homework.

A 6,000-hour, 18-month restoration on the Bulldog was led by Richard Gauntlett, son of Victor Gauntlett who served as Aston Martin’s executive chairman between 1981 and 1991. 

Gudrun Muschalla, courtesy of BMW AG.

The win is a breath of fresh air within the concours microcosm, where an aging population often sides with blue-chip choices rather than challengers with fantastical stories and avant-garde design. Even better, the Bulldog’s future is still being written. Because it never achieved its full performance potential (it reached a recorded 192 mph in 1980, and with two people aboard), Sarofim is planning a speed run to exceed 200 mph—the ultimate top dog achievement for a deserving Bulldog.

First Look: Rolls-Royce Reveals Another Bespoke Boat Tail, and We Can’t Stop Staring

First Look: Rolls-Royce Reveals Another Bespoke Boat Tail, and We Can’t Stop Staring

The light on Italy’s Lake Como seems to shift by the minute, altering in hue and intensity at will. Under the fickle spring sun here at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the just-unveiled Rolls-Royce Boat Tail responds to the changing conditions like a chameleon, morphing from light sand to brilliant gold without warning. The commissioning of the second of three Rolls-Royce Boat Tail examples would never be mistaken for an act of humility, but it’s no accident that the 19-foot al fresco four-seater manages to reflect its surroundings rather than impose itself upon them.

“This particular client conveyed to us the desire to create a mirror to the differing environments in which the car would be used,” reveals Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Coachbuild Design boss, “and I can say with some authenticity that only a few weeks ago we viewed the car with the client in the UK, and its tones were white and simplistic. Here, somehow it is transformed to reflect the terracotta of the scenery around it, transforming its personality.”

Rolls-Royce’s latest Boat Tail was revealed at the 2022 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Glad we don’t need to get our eyes checked—and what a sight the Boat Tail is, even surrounded by the priceless automotive eye candy at one of the world’s most exclusive concourses. Inspired by early 20th century racing yachts, each Boat Tail is rumored to have cost the three clients in the neighborhood of $30 million. Commissioned by the scion of a pearl-industry magnate whom Rolls-Royce describes as “widely traveled, internationally educated and cosmopolitan in his tastes and influences,” this Boat Tail will become an addition to his “sizable collection of classic and modern cars housed in a dedicated private museum.”

The Boat Tail is inspired by early 20th century racing yachts. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Boat Tail subverts the signature Pantheon grille with an unexpected twist on the imposing emblem. Starting with a solid block of billet aluminum, the metal is milled and the surrounds painted matte cognac, so only the polished vanes stand out. It’s the first time Rolls-Royce’s traditional grille hasn’t been topped with a peaked metallic structure, and the effect draws the eye past the rose-gold Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and thin headlamps, and across to the expansive length of the hood. The arc continues across the cabin before tapering at the tail, which is topped in Royal Walnut veneer, a nautically inspired bit which is inlaid with rose gold–plated pinstripes that are slightly muted with a satin-brushed finish.

For a new take on the signature Pantheon grille, the metal is milled and the surrounds are painted matte cognac so only the polished vanes stand out. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The pièce de résistance lies beyond the butterfly panels, which bisect to reveal two jewelry case–like displays of beverage accoutrements on the left, and plate/silverware service on the right. The so-called Hosting Suite presents itself via a motorized action, with veneer-topped tables swiveling out to accommodate open-air picnics. Topping it off, literally, is a parasol that extends from between the two showcases. The parasol structure uses multiple computers and motors to operate, and when closed has been aerodynamically tested by Rolls-Royce at speeds up to 155 mph.

The car’s Hosting Suite comprises a parasol set between two jewelry case–like displays of beverage accoutrements as well as plate and silverware service. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Though the Boat Tail’s massive scale includes hand-formed body panels, which constitute the largest ever produced by the Goodwood manufacturer, it’s the details that further separate these commissions from serially produced steeds. For instance, the wheels are first plated in rose gold, then painted and laser etched to reveal the tint below, a first-ever process for the brand. The crystal stemware by Christofle are finished in rose gold, and the flatware incorporates the same accents with subtle “BOAT TAIL” inscriptions along the handles. And in a genuinely unique act of customization, the instruments and the owner’s personal timepiece are ornamented with mother-of-pearl inserts from his own collection.

The instruments and owner’s personal timepiece are ornamented with mother-of-pearl inserts. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The freedom of unlimited choice can easily push a bespoke creation into the realm of absurdity, or worse, vulgarity. But the Boat Tail presented at Villa d’Este is finished in such subtle shades that it transforms to accommodate its environment, managing to make its most astonishing feature its understated elegance—a rare treat in a world where noise and brashness so often have the last word.

The Boat Tail Is Back! Rolls-Royce Unveils Another Lavish 19-Footer, and This Time It’s Rose Gold

The Boat Tail Is Back! Rolls-Royce Unveils Another Lavish 19-Footer, and This Time It’s Rose Gold

The light on Italy’s Lake Como seems to shift by the minute, altering in hue and intensity at will. Under the fickle spring sun here at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the just-unveiled Rolls-Royce Boat Tail responds to the changing conditions like a chameleon, morphing from light sand to brilliant gold without warning. The commissioning of the second of three Rolls-Royce Boat Tail examples would never be mistaken for an act of humility, but it’s no accident that the 19-foot al fresco four-seater manages to reflect its surroundings rather than impose itself upon them.

“This particular client conveyed to us the desire to create a mirror to the differing environments in which the car would be used,” reveals Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Coachbuild Design boss, “and I can say with some authenticity that only a few weeks ago we viewed the car with the client in the UK, and its tones were white and simplistic. Here, somehow it is transformed to reflect the terracotta of the scenery around it, transforming its personality.”

Rolls-Royce’s latest Boat Tail was revealed at the 2022 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Glad we don’t need to get our eyes checked—and what a sight the Boat Tail is, even surrounded by the priceless automotive eye candy at one of the world’s most exclusive concourses. Inspired by early 20th century racing yachts, each Boat Tail is rumored to have cost the three clients in the neighborhood of $30 million. Commissioned by the scion of a pearl-industry magnate whom Rolls-Royce describes as “widely traveled, internationally educated and cosmopolitan in his tastes and influences,” this Boat Tail will become an addition to his “sizable collection of classic and modern cars housed in a dedicated private museum.”

The Boat Tail is inspired by early 20th century racing yachts. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Boat Tail subverts the signature Pantheon grille with an unexpected twist on the imposing emblem. Starting with a solid block of billet aluminum, the metal is milled and the surrounds painted matte cognac, so only the polished vanes stand out. It’s the first time Rolls-Royce’s traditional grille hasn’t been topped with a peaked metallic structure, and the effect draws the eye past the rose-gold Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and thin headlamps, and across to the expansive length of the hood. The arc continues across the cabin before tapering at the tail, which is topped in Royal Walnut veneer, a nautically inspired bit which is inlaid with rose gold–plated pinstripes that are slightly muted with a satin-brushed finish.

For a new take on the signature Pantheon grille, the metal is milled and the surrounds are painted matte cognac so only the polished vanes stand out. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The pièce de résistance lies beyond the butterfly panels, which bisect to reveal two jewelry case–like displays of beverage accoutrements on the left, and plate/silverware service on the right. The so-called Hosting Suite presents itself via a motorized action, with veneer-topped tables swiveling out to accommodate open-air picnics. Topping it off, literally, is a parasol that extends from between the two showcases. The parasol structure uses multiple computers and motors to operate, and when closed has been aerodynamically tested by Rolls-Royce at speeds up to 155 mph.

The car’s Hosting Suite comprises a parasol set between two jewelry case–like displays of beverage accoutrements as well as plate and silverware service. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Though the Boat Tail’s massive scale includes hand-formed body panels, which constitute the largest ever produced by the Goodwood manufacturer, it’s the details that further separate these commissions from serially produced steeds. For instance, the wheels are first plated in rose gold, then painted and laser etched to reveal the tint below, a first-ever process for the brand. The crystal stemware by Christofle are finished in rose gold, and the flatware incorporates the same accents with subtle “BOAT TAIL” inscriptions along the handles. And in a genuinely unique act of customization, the instruments and the owner’s personal timepiece are ornamented with mother-of-pearl inserts from his own collection.

The instruments and owner’s personal timepiece are ornamented with mother-of-pearl inserts. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The freedom of unlimited choice can easily push a bespoke creation into the realm of absurdity, or worse, vulgarity. But the Boat Tail presented at Villa d’Este is finished in such subtle shades that it transforms to accommodate its environment, managing to make its most astonishing feature its understated elegance—a rare treat in a world where noise and brashness so often have the last word.

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