The Best of the Best: Award-Winning Cars at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

  • May 23, 2023

The world’s most traditional beauty contest for historic automobiles concluded with a grand finale at Lake Como, marking a festive occasion. An international jury of experts carefully deliberated and ultimately selected the Duesenberg SJ as the well-deserved overall winner. A captivating festival of elegance and timeless beauty unfolded for three days, showcasing the passion for cars, the sheer joy of driving, and the pursuit of technical excellence. The event attracted a large audience, who revelled in the celebration of these four-wheeled marvels.

As with every edition, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este concluded by awarding the most spectacular cars of their era. Winning the most prestigious prizes were an American and an Italian.

Duesenberg SJ 1935

The prestigious BMW Group trophy for the “Best in Show” was presented to an exquisitely rare 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster. This remarkable vehicle was meticulously handcrafted in a striking two-tone orange and black colour scheme. Among the limited number of Duesenberg SJs produced by the esteemed US manufacturer, known for its sports and luxury cars from 1913 to 1937, this example won the “Best in Show” 2023 competition. These remarkable automobiles were often associated with the glamorous Hollywood stars of that era. The BMW Group BMW Trophy, recognized as the most esteemed accolade at the event, is bestowed by a knowledgeable jury upon the overall winner of the Concorso d’Eleganza, chosen from a remarkable array of cars that exemplify beauty, passion, and unrivalled uniqueness. The winning model holds an estimated value of several million euros, a testament to its exceptional worth.

Duesenberg SJ
Duesenberg SJ, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023

During the 1930s, many renowned personalities such as Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, James Cagney, and even Jay Gatsby in the remake of “The Great Gatsby” were captivated by the allure of driving a Duesenberg. The company’s founders, Fred and August Duesenberg, hailed initially from Westphalia, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1880.

Ferrari 250 GT Spider California 1961

In a resounding decision by the Public Referendum, the title of the winner of the prestigious Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este was bestowed upon the remarkable Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California from 1961. This stunning vehicle, adorned with elegant coachwork crafted by Pininfarina/Scaglietti, is proudly owned by Jonathan Hui of the Keybridge Collection in Hong Kong. It stood out as the epitome of a historic car, capturing the hearts of voters. Many film stars such as Alain Delon, James Coburn and Roger Vadim have sat behind the wheel of this type of car.

Winner Concorso d'Eleganza 2023
Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023

This year’s event marked a joyful return for the public audience, who were finally able to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere along the picturesque shores of Lake Como.

The Public Day at Villa d’Este proved immensely popular, with tickets sold out well before the exciting weekend. As a delightful addition to the scene, the vast parkland of Villa Erba hosted an event on Saturday known as Wheels & Weisswürscht – or Amici & Automobili – reminiscent of the vibrant atmosphere in Munich. More than 160 vehicles and 6,000 enthusiastic visitors gathered as members of various BMW Clubs, celebrating the diverse dimensions of automobility.

Wheels & Weisswürscht
Wheels & Weisswürscht, Villa Erba

Sunday was equally captivating, featuring the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este Public Day – Il Festival, which drew a staggering crowd of over 9,000 attendees. The attractions were abundant, from awe-inspiring performances by dancer Yoann Bourgeois to an exhibition commemorating 100 Years of Le Mans, showcasing legendary racing cars spanning a century. The grand highlight of the day was the magnificent parade of all the award classes in the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023. The Public Day was a collective celebration of a shared passion for automobility, the pure joy of driving, and remarkable engineering achievements.

The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is one of the most meaningful events dedicated to celebrating the enchantment of historic cars. Its inaugural edition took place in 1929 during the golden age of aristocratic automobiles, and it has since been repeated annually, offering a consistently rich and innovative program that captures the imagination of enthusiasts worldwide.

concorso parade 2023
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023

Next year, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2024 will take place in Lake Como from May 17th to 19th, 2024.

Photo credit: Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este / BMW Group.


como-lakeElena Markova | Editor-in-chief
I’m a globetrotter based in Como and a big admirer of the lake and its surroundings. Thanks to my love of adventure, I have visited over 60 countries.
I am passionate about travelling, reading, and discovering something new.

Follow me on Instagram: @comolaketoday and Twitter @ea_markova

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