One of the grandest events in the international car calendar, the Concorso d'Eleganza at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2009. Essentially an automotive beauty contest, the Concorso dates from the grand era of coachbuilding, when the sturdy mechanical underpinnings of the great European manufacturers were graced by flowing bodywork hand-made by the many hundreds of small workshops devoted to creating truly unique motor cars.
As the art of coachbuilding was usurped by modern production methods - the intergrated body and chassis - and the evaporation of their core clientele in the years following the war, the original competition fizzled out in 1949. In 1995 it was revived for the modern era, ostensibly as a platform for the very upper end of the historic vehicle market, bringing together those responsible for keeping these most rarefied and iconic cars alive. A few years later, the BMW Group stepped in to offer patronage of the whole event, maintaining the classic car focus but also encouraging design debuts from around the world, from big names as well as small studios.