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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

Since 1929 the Villa d'Este in Cernobbio, Italy, on the banks of "Lago di Como" has played host to the Concorso d'Eleganza.  As has been the case with several other high profile automotive events, the Concorso has recently added motorcycles to the venue.  2012 was the second year that motorcycles have been shown and displayed in tandem with the cars.

This years event, held Friday May 25th through Sunday May 27th, was a smashing success.  The Concorso's main sponsor is BMW, and they spared no expense to make sure that the event was top notch.

View of the dock at Cernobbio exiting from the water taxi.
The Concorso is actually two events at two venues, combined in to one.  The Villa d'Este is a very exclusive and historic hotel at the waters edge.  While able to accomodate the fleet of very expensive and historically important cars that are invited each year, along with their owners, the venue lacks the size to allow the general public to participate at the hotel.  Therefore a private showing and judging of the cars is held at the Villa d'Este on Saturday.  Then early Sunday morning, the cars a brought the few hundred meters through the quaint town of Cernobbio to join the motorcycles for display at the Villa Erba.

Villa Erba as viewed from Lago di Como.
 The motorcycle exhibition takes place throughout the weekend at Villa Erba.  BMW, primary sponsors of the Concorso, erected an elaborate stage for the bikes on the grounds of the Villa.  The impressive structure consisted of a steel frame with wooden floor and stretched canvas ceiling.  A tremendous amount of time, energy and money went in to erecting the structure which is only used for the one weekend!  Needless to say, an army of workers from BMW is required to set up and remove not only the infrastructure, but the motorcycles themselves.

The special motorcycle exhibition erected by BMW for the event at Villa Erba.

Inside the exhibition hall on the grounds of the Villa Erba was a special exhibition of BMW racing cars and motorcycles.  The bikes on display included an RS54 Rennsport Gespann, Butler and Smith R90S, R5SS and landspeed record winning Kompressor.  Less vintage, though still interesting, was the Marco Melandri S1000RR world superbike and the BMW Italia Goldbet S1000RR. 


R90S Butler and Smith Superbike

RS54 Short Stroke Sidecar

1937 500cc 100hp World Record Machine piloted by Ernst Henne

Marco Melandri S1000RR World Superbike

BMW Italia S1000RR
The motorcycle exhibition of invited machines was held outdoors in a beautiful pavillion.  In true BMW style, everything was professionally laid out.  The bikes were all represented by plaques indicating the make and model.  In typical German fashion, representatives from BMW Classic spaced out the motorcycles using a tape measure!  A red velvet rope kept curious onlookers from getting too close to these exceptional machines.  (This was especially important as the  MV Agusta in the concepts and prototypes category was a lifesize clay rendering.)

Accompanying the show was a wonderfully illustrated hard cover book outlining the themes of the various classes as envisioned by motorcycle enthusiast and author Stefan Knittel.

As my interest is in BMW motorcycles, I spent considerable time pouring over the details of the 1939 Kompressor that was on display. 

Sebastian Gutsch from the BMW Classic team stands by in his togs as he gets ready to ride the Kompressor from Villa Erba to Villa d'Este.

And now for a special treat.  The sound of a BMW prewar Kompressor.........

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