It is only appropriate that on the eve of Europe’s most prestigious car competition, Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este, in Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy, that Veloce Tours has set up a personal tour of the most prestigious Italian car collection, owned by the inveterate Italian, Corrado Lopresto.
Lopresto is known worldwide for his Italian car collection, having won awards at every major car event, six times at the renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. While Pebble Beach made Lopresto’s car collection known around the world, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este must hold a special place in Lopresto’s heart, it being the first award he ever won, in 2001, courtesy of the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 with a Touring body.
Driving in Italy is like dancing without touching; you are so close to the other car you can smell them. If you drive with them for a length of the A1 or A7, you will find yourself working the road with them, the way a dancer works the floor with their partner. Many of these cars are Alfa Romeos. Alfas are known as the everyday driver, a car with great drivability and maneuverability for the Italian roads.
I’ve driven a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia diesel from Rome to Tuscany to Florence to Milan. The 106-year old Alfa Romeo company isn’t the first car one thinks of collecting when they think Italian; Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini are all supercars that so many collectors aspire to own.
If you follow the history, the design, the companies that have worked together on the cars in Lopresto’s collection you will get just as much of a sense of Italian design and history as you would from any of the Supercars. Lopresto brings these cars alive in his collection, simply by having the prototype and the history of that car.
Just like the cars dance on the highway, so do the car companies dance between car design and production. Some dance together better than others. You can see a lineage of history in the cars that have been kept alive. In 1963 Ford was unsuccessful in its bid to buy Enzo Ferrari’s company, and from Lopresto’s collection we find a 1973 De Tomaso Pantera Concept that was designed to be produced by Ford for the American market, but never came to fruition.
Many people look at cars as whole beings, the end result. I like to look at aspects of a car, one part at a time. The 1961 Alfa Romeo 2600 Ghia, designed by Sergio Sartorelli, has a grille that reminds me of a glass being designed today by the Italian company Mario Luca Giusti. It’s a simple circular design, just like on the grille, but positioned correctly on the drinking glass the translucence is visually intriguing.
Another favorite of mine was the simple 1955 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Bertone two-toned tan and ivory convertible. This is an understatement of the car in its complexity. To me, the car is simple and elegant. To Lopresto, it is a 1955 Bertone, designed by Franco Scaglione, a one-off that was cast aside by a car manufacturer from Portello, a district of Milan, Italy, because its shape was too sophisticated to produce.
The car that Lopresto will take to this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este is a 1930 Isotta Fraschini 8A SS Castagna. Not only was this luxurious car expensive in its initial production, but it was also technologically complicated for its time. The mechanisms used to open, or partially open the roof were created by a French Coachbuilder, Hibbard & Darrin. In keeping with the luxury cars of that time, the hood ornament was a piece of art itself.
It is sure to be a head turner at the show, if not the Best in Show.