Since the turn of the millennium, monolithic events like the Art Basel, the New York Fashion Week, the Salone del Mobile in Milan or the SXSW in Austin have created the blueprint for a new type of cultural happening: The urban festival. Surrounded by countless satellite and popup events, these often commercially motivated shows take over the world's biggest cities for a couple of days, turing them into buzzing petri dishes for the global art, fashion, and design community. In the automobile world, the most famous example is the Monterey Car Week that has lined up a series of high-profile rallyes, races and petrol-infused cocktail parties around the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Last year, the Frankfurt Motor Show moved to Munich for an open-air car show in the heart of the city. Now it seems like there is another major event format evolving in the very center of Europe – the Como Car Week.

  • Rethinking the format, the BMW Group has reshuffled the recipe for the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este – one of the most important beauty contests for collector cars that is held at the glamorous Grand Hotel of the same name on the shores of Lake Como. This year, the held exclusively at the hotel estate, limiting access even more strict than before to participants and ticket owners. As always, the selecting committee had curated different competition classes – this year, among others, classes celebrating 75 years of Ferrari, 50 years of BMW M, the big Mercedes-Benz Kompressors or the sportscars that first cracked the 300 kph barrier. While Bugatti took home some of the most important trophies – including the “Best of Show” award for a 1937 Bugatti 57S Vandervooren, the FIVA trophy for a remarkably original Bugatti Type 59 and the design award for the spectacular Bugatti Bolide concept car –, the audience picked the recently renovated Aston Martin Bulldog as their favourite. Another highlight was the BMW 320 Group 5 and its high-revving and bone-shaking F2 engine driven across the terrace by Jägermeister Racing team principal Ecki Schimpf. Meanwhile, our personal Curves trophy would have gone to the Roadscholar crew from North Carolina for bringing a fantastic Porsche 356 B Carrera GTL Abarth to Villa d'Este – and embarking on a grand tour all across Europe this week. As the competition cars from the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este were not displayed anymore at Villa Erba on Sunday, the events second home, the impressive estate hosted BMW's trademark Munich event “Wheels & Weisswürste” with a broad selection of car clubs and their classic automobiles. More casual than the distinguished format at Villa d'Este, the event added a new, more accessible dimension to the weekend. Still, Villa Erba was also the location for an insightful talk format about the 50th anniversary of BMW M including racing legend Jochen Neerpasch, design chief Adrian van Hooydonk, and legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.

  • Then, of course, was FuoriConcorso Sonderwunsch. After the inaugural edition of the contemporary concours event dedicated to the big Bentley Continentals of the 1990s in 2019 and last year's celebration of iconic Turbo cars, this year's event displayed some of the most special bespoke cars ever created at Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur in the gardens of two glamorous villas overlooking Lake Como. Among the wildest cars shown at Villa del Grumello were two of the seven Porsche 959s custom-built for Sheikh Al-Thani in the late 1980s in burgundy and orange, a 996 Carrera with green-and-purple interior nicknamed “The Joker”, an impressive 964 Turbo S, the iconic Flachbau Turbo as well as many classic and contemporary one-offs and limited editions. Also the new Porsche 911 Sport Classic celebrated its public debut at FuoriConcorso Sonderwunsch. At Villa Sucota next door, the Porsche Museum had lined up some of the rarely exhibited concept cars – among them the Porsche 911 Vision Safari first shown in our book “Porsche Unseen”, a Porsche 968 Roadster Concept, a four-doored Porsche 928 Estate, the prototype for the Porsche 918 Spyder and a striking Porsche Cayenne Cabriolet. But the organizers of FuoriConcorso around the Milanese luxury entrepreneur and car enthusiast Guglielmo Miani had not stopped there: At Villa Olmo, a grand lakeside estate across the street, the team had invited the public to the first edition of their FuoriConcorso Open Museum. This year, the MAUTO museum from Turin displayed 22 icons of Italian car culture in the classicist park. Meanwhile, the Curves crew enjoyed a very cool and relaxed automotive BBQ with our friends from Flitzer, a casual car club from Berlin. Considering the diversity of last weekend's events, we are convinced that the Como Car Week is the right format to create in the heart of Italian and European car culture.

  • (C) Text: Jan Karl Baedeker • Fotos: Stefan Bogner