A lapse of moderation, a largess of gorgeousness. It’s hard to describe the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este without being hyperbolic, as there really is nothing like this “car show.” Pebble Beach is bigger, but car count is no great metric in this case. Scan the world and I doubt you’ll find many places sporting cobblestoned helipads with lakeside views, so what’s a golf course in comparison to this villa chopped into the shoreline of Lake Como?
In contrast to these relatively obscure 1950s machines stood a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. It is a car that, like the Countach and the 250 GTO, has long ago had every word and photo written and shot. There is hardly an original thought to be launched at the car as a model, but the specific histories of the first teutonic supercar can pick up the slack. The example pictured here for instance was a very early production number—19—and began life as a press car. One such guest driver in the period was recently-signed factory driver Stirling Moss, who apparently had the silver gull gassed up by a young Jackie Stewart working at a fueling station before he would come into his own in a racing car. Hearsay perhaps, but the best kind.
Photography by Alex Sobran