The best vehicles in the world meet once a year at the Concorso d’Eleganza on Lake Como, Italy. But even among the best in the world, there can only be one winner, and this year the honor went to a Bugatti Type 57S Vanvooren Cabriolet. It was one of four Bugatti vehicles on display and, in addition to winning its class, 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 body of the convertible is the work of Vanvooren, based in Courbevoie on the outskirts of Paris. The convertible still impresses today with its proportions and clear lines. It is the first of only four Bugatti Type 57S cars built with a Vanvooren convertible. One of the previous owners replaced the original engine with a V8 for testing purposes. After some extensive research, the original eight-cylinder inline engine – which had been lost for over 40 years – was relocated, a true contemporary marvel.
In addition to the Class A Type 57S was a rare 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports race car and a 1937 Type 57C Stelvio Cabriolet with Gangloff bodywork. After serving as a works race car in 1934 and 1935, the Type 59 Sports was converted into a sports car and successfully participated in races until 1937. It had only five owners, including King Leopold III of Belgium from 1938. This vehicle is now one of the most important 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 the best-preserved pre-war car.
The Stelvio Cabriolet was the first Type 57 to be fitted with a supercharger by Bugatti. Bugatti named it after the Passo dello Stelvio – also known as the Stelvio Pass – because this steep mountain pass was climbed effortlessly 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 worth mentioning, as this is the only known Bugatti to be decorated with such details.
In the Concept Cars and Prototypes class, the new Bugatti Bolide¹ was one of seven prototypes on display and won the coveted Design Award for its class. The experimental study, Bolide, answers the question of what a Bugatti would look like if it were reduced to the very latest essentials and based on the iconic 8.0-litre W16 engine. When the concept was first unveiled in 2020, the desire from customers around the world was for Bugatti to make the decision to produce a small production run of 40 units of the Bolide – all build slots of which sold out immediately.
The extreme track-oriented hyper sports car has an unrivaled weight-to-power ratio. Bugatti explored a new dimension of hyper sports cars thanks to the W16 engine that produced 1,600 horsepower combined with the Bolide’s ultra-high downforce configuration. The Bolide achieves LMP-like performance figures – all without compromising optimal handling capacity. However, in keeping with a core brand philosophy, the performance of the Bolide 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 important events in the world of classic cars and luxury sports cars. We are proud to be part of it again this year with four quite exceptional vehicles. We are humbled that a Bugatti car can win the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ award in such a renowned competition, as well as in its class. It is also an honor to see a beautiful original Type 59 Sports win the FIVA Trophy and Bolide receive the ‘Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award’ for ‘Concept Cars and Prototypes’. All these vehicles demonstrate Bugatti’s enduring values, despite being separated for nearly 90 years: design, performance, elegance and quality.”
Villa d’Este – Spotlight on the beauty of Bugatti
In the 16th century, Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio had a palace designed to serve as his private residence. This was converted in 1873 into one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. The majestic Villa d’Este palace, Italian Renaissance-style gardens and the shimmering waters of Lake Como now guarantee an exceptional experience. For nearly 150 years, some of the biggest names in film, art, literature, politics and business have lived at the hotel. The hotel has hosted the Concorso d’Eleganza since 1929, with Bugatti vehicles among the returning participants and winners.
In 2013, a 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was awarded the coveted honor of being ‘Best of Show’. The vehicle, owned by designer Ralph Lauren, is one of only two original Atlantics still in existence. Only four vehicles were built, one of which was infamously lost and another was recovered after a serious accident. In recent years, the juries have also been won by Bugatti’s 1937 Type 57S Sports Tourer and a 1934 Type 59 Grand Prix.
Bugatti surprised the jury and the public 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 2019 in the ‘Concept Cars and Prototypes’ category with La Voiture Noire.