The world’s finest vehicles meet once a year at the Concorso d’Eleganza by Lake Como, Italy. But even among the best in the world there can be only one winner, and this year the honor was bestowed upon a Bugatti Type 57S Vanvooren Cabriolet. It was one of four Bugatti vehicles on display and, as well as winning its class, it was also named ‘Best of Show’.
With seven different classes on display, the Bugatti Type 57S featured in class A, ‘The Golden Age of Elegance: The Art Deco Era of Motor Car Design’. The technical excellence comes from Bugatti, while the elegant convertible body is the work of Vanvooren, based in Courbevoie in the suburbs of Paris. The convertible still makes an impression nowadays with its proportions and clear lines. It is the first of just four Bugatti Type 57S cars to have been built with a Vanvooren convertible body. One of its previous owners replaced the original engine with a V8 for test purposes. Following some extensive research, the original straight eight-cylinder engine – which was lost for over 40 years – was relocated, a true modern-day miracle.
Alongside the Type 57S in class A was a rare Bugatti Type 59 Sports race car from 1934 and a Type 57C Stelvio Cabriolet with Gangloff bodywork from 1937. Having served as a factory race car in 1934 and 1935, the Type 59 Sports was converted into a sports car and successfully competed in races until 1937. It only had five owners, one of which was King Leopold III of Belgium from 1938. This vehicle now counts among the most significant racing Bugattis and is widely admired for its originality. Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este judges were so impressed that the Type 59 was awarded the FIVA Trophy for Best Preserved Pre-War Car.
The Stelvio Cabriolet was the first Type 57 to be installed with a supercharger by Bugatti. Bugatti named it after the Passo dello Stelvio – otherwise known as the Stelvio Pass – as this steep mountain pass was effortlessly summited by its powerful engine. The bodywork comes from the exclusive coachbuilder, Gangloff, based in Colmar, France – just a stone’s throw from Bugatti’s headquarters in Molsheim. The Cabriolet’s art deco bumpers are worthy of note, being the only known example of this Bugatti to be adorned with such details.
In the ‘Concept Cars and Prototypes’ class, the new Bugatti Bolide¹ starred as one of seven prototypes on display, winning the coveted Design Award of the class. The experimental study, Bolide, answers the question as to what a Bugatti would look like if it was stripped back to its cutting-edge essentials and based around the iconic 8.0-liter W16 engine. When the concept was initially unveiled in 2020, such was the desire from customers around the world that Bugatti made the decision to produce a small production series of 40 units of the Bolide – all build slots of which immediately sold out.
The extreme, track-focused hyper sports car has an unparalleled weight-to-power ratio. Bugatti explored a new dimension of hyper sports cars thanks to its W16 engine producing 1,600 PS combined with the Bolide’s ultra-high downforce setup. The Bolide achieves LMP-like performance figures – all without compromising optimum handling capacity. However, in keeping with a core philosophy of the brand, the Bolide’s performance will be highly accessible to all drivers behind the wheel to create a unique yet confidence-inspiring experience.
Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti Automobiles said: “The Concorso d‘Eleganza Villa d’Este is one of the most beautiful and significant events in the world of classic cars and luxury sports cars. We are proud to be a part of it again this year with four quite exceptional vehicles. We are humbled that a Bugatti vehicle should win the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ Award among such renowned competition, as well as winning its class. It’s also an honor to see a wonderfully original Type 59 Sports win the FIVA Trophy and for the ‘Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award’ for ‘Concept Cars and Prototypes’ to be given to Bolide. All these vehicles showcase Bugatti’s enduring values despite being separated by nearly 90 years: design, performance, elegance, and quality.”
Villa d’Este – Showcasing Bugatti’s Beauty
In the 16th century, Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio had a palace designed to serve as his private residence. This was turned into one of the most luxurious hotels in the world in 1873. The majestic Villa d’Este palace, the gardens in the style of the Italian Renaissance, and the glittering waters of Lake Como are now guarantees of an exceptional experience. Over almost 150 years, some of the biggest names in film, art, literature, politics, and business have resided at the hotel. The hotel has been hosting the Concorso d’Eleganza since 1929, with Bugatti vehicles among the recurrent participants and winners.
In 2013, a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic from 1938 was awarded the coveted honor of being ‘Best of Show’. Owned by the designer Ralph Lauren, the vehicle is one of only two original Atlantics still in existence. Just four vehicles were built, one of which is infamously lost and another of which was restored after being involved in a serious accident. In recent years, the juries were also won over by Bugatti’s Type 57S Sports Tourer from 1937 and a Type 59 Grand Prix from 1934.
Bugatti took the jury and the public by surprise three years ago with the one-off La Voiture Noire². The ultimate grand tourer references Jean Bugatti’s lost Type 57SC Atlantic and brings art deco design into the 21st century. Bugatti won in the ‘Concept Cars and Prototypes’ category with La Voiture Noire in 2019.