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Cernobbio, 22nd - 24th of May, 2015

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Class C - Phantom Story. The Rolls-Royce Phantom through the ages

Being a marque of the BMW Group today the Rolls-Royce name is always present at the Concorso d´Eleganza, this year with an own class dedicated to the long and successful story of the Phantom model. Just as today the Phantom in 6 series was always the top model of the range and many models are associated to the wealthy and royals all over the world. The oldest car in the class was the Phantom I produced in Springfield/Massachusetts when Rolls Royce set up a plant in the US to avoid the high import taxes of the day. This Roadster by Murphy in striking yellow was a gift to a New York Theatre actress by her husband who even had a wall in his house removed to present this car under the Christmas tree in 1929. Last seen at Pebble Beach in 2011 where it won its class the Roadster was awarded runner up in the class behind the Phantom III DHC by Vanvooren. Completely different in appearance with more restrained elegance this was winner of the class.

The name Rolls-Royce is certainly very close to the British Royal Family as most of their state and private limousines are from RR. The Phantom IV was only built in 17 units and no less than five of them were delivered to the Royal Family, the example on display was the personal transport of Princess Margaret showing the Royal emblem on the roof. The Phantom was produced as in two further series to 1978 and the display featured one of each model series.

Class D – Made to Measure, the final flowering of the coach built coupe

After the WW the mass production with series coachwork took over and the coachbuilders and designers of this era had to change from single production of special bodies to the design of smaller and larger series, especially the Italian coachbuilders of Touring, Zagato and Pininfarina come to mind. Not only the Italian marques took over the design ideas of them but also American, German and British companies had some cars designed by them.

One of the most spectacular cars of the concours could be found in this class with the Pegaso Cupula designed by Enasa. Few cars can claim the title “show car” as this could and not few were convinced that this might be a worthy contender for the Best of Show award. Originally displayed at the World Motor Show in New York this striking yellow Coupe featured a glass back, chromed side pipes and above all red-wall-tyres. The car was just restored into this configuration as seen in New York and brought to Como by the Louwman Collection of the Netherlands. With contrasting green interior this was the show stopper and not surprisingly the car was awarded with the kids’ choice award being the favourite of the younger public. But unfortunately the car was not eligible for the top award as the class judges have chosen one of the Ferrari for the class award leaving the Pegaso the mention of honour. But with three of the ultra-rare Pegaso at concours the Spanish marque will be still very well remembered for this year’s concours.

No less than two Ferrari by Vignale were displayed alongside the Pegaso and the 250 GT Europa once owned by the Belgium Princess Lilliana de Rethy took the class award. Being a regular to this year’s concours scene the small elegant coupe was already shown at the Cavallino Classics were it won BoS and a few weeks later at Amelia Island before making his trip to Europe. It was joined by an earlier 212 Vignale Berlinetta (0267EU) that was brought over by top restorer Paul Russell for its owner who also owns the matching right hand example of this type in the colours of the Portuguese taxis. Acquired in unrestored barn find condition in 2011 at the Amelia Island Auction of RM this example was superbly restored since shown at Pebble and now at Como where it won the price for the most sensitive restoration.

One of the most prestigious coachbuilder of this era is Zagato and aside Pininfarina one of the few who survived to the present day as seen in the concept car classes. Zagato was not only popular in Italy but also in the UK where Zagato is linked in particular to Aston Martin. But Zagato also built other models and Como featured a one-off on base of the Jaguar XK140. Although not having the typical double bubble roof the design is unmistaken Zagato and apart from the Jaguar front this is very close to the design on the Ferrari 250 TdF models. Featuring a brown velvet and burl interior and the British racing green paint this is a great combination of Italian design and British presentation, the car was seen last year at the Hampton Court Concours in London.

Italian Collector Corrado Lopresto brought over his nice unrestored Osca 1600 GT by Touring and the class was rounded off by a Chrysler SS and an Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS both by Ghia.

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Report & images ... Peter & Wolfgang Singhof