Salvarola Concours celebrates the Lancia Aurelia
Salvarola is a spa town situated a few kilometers from Maranello, in Italy’s Motor Valley. Last Sunday, 19th March, it staged its eighteenth concours d’élégance. “Il Salvarola” is certainly not the biggest concours around, but it is Italy’s second oldest (after Villa d’Este). As always, the quality of the cars shown was interesting, and the event offered a nice selection of what Italian gentlemen, usually long-time collectors, currently have in their garages. Every year, the concours celebrates a specific brand, and this time it was the turn of Lancia, specifically the Lancia Aurelia. Consequently there was an impressive array of Aurelias on the field, in various configurations, including the B20 Coupé and B24 Convertible Spider America. The team of judges, made up of some of the area’s most important classic car specialists, was captained by Adolfo Orsi, who applied the ICJAG judging format.
Best in Show went to a 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Berlinetta Touring, a rare car with a wonderful history. On completion of the judging, the cars were driven from Salvarola to Piazza Roma in Modena, one of the city’s most beautiful squares, which is lined by the freshly restored Military Academy buildings. On Sunday, it was packed with thousands of onlookers, and they included some of the greatest names from Modena’s classic car community.
Only in Modena
If you were organizing a classic car show anywhere else in the world and wanted a particular “expert” to be present, you would have to extend an explicit invitation. Not so in Modena. As the Salvarola concours showed, here, all you have to do is gather the participating cars downtown on a sunny Sunday afternoon and you will find some of the most important people in the modern history of Italian motoring stopping by, quite spontaneously, to take a look at the cars. We, for example, spotted Ermanno Cozza, the legendary Maserati “mechanic”, who joined the company as a young man in October 1951 to support the racing team. He went on to become a dear friend of Juan Manuel Fangio and also one of the firm’s most famous racing drivers.
He is also the founder of the Maserati Classiche department. Now retired, he still spends some of his time in Viale Ciro Menotti, drawing on his many memories to help clarify details from the past, or simply to keep the company’s history alive for the younger generations. As soon as he arrived in Piazza Roma, he was “kidnapped” by a Maserati collector keen to gather extra information about his latest purchase, a 1967 Maserati Mistral 4000 Coupé. Another familiar face in the crowd was Francesco Stanguellini, founder and owner of the Stanguellini Museum and son of Vittorio, founder of the Italian sports car maker Automobili Stanguellini. He, too, spent some time in the square, describing his old cars.
The ICJAG judging
Nowadays, with more and more classic car concours d’élégance being organized around the world, there is a growing need for some kind of standardization of the judging at these events. With this in mind, American Ed Gilbertson, a man with remarkable knowledge and experience in the field – many indeed see him as the “father” of classic car judges -, decided to form a small group of similarly experienced judges with whom to create a standard format for evaluating classic cars. The International Chief Judges Advisory Group (ICJAG) thus developed a system that is now used by about 30 concours in different parts of the world, including the most important ones. This year, the Salvarola concours, too, adopted this method judging, a decision that undoubtedly enhanced the prestige of the event.
The Lancia Aurelia celebration
The 2017 Salvarola Concours d’Elégance decided to honor the Lancia, in particular the Aurelia: 22 Aurelias were shown, specifically one B20 GT, six B20 GT 2500s, four B24 GT 2500 Spider Americas, five examples of the B24 GT 2500 Convertibile, four B50s (three cabriolets and a coupé), a B52 Coupé and a B12 Sedan. These cars represented four classes. The other five classes embraced mixed brands, and contained a good mix of different manufacturers and models, for a total of about 50 cars on show. The event’s star models were the B24 GT 2500 Spider Americas, to many one of the most beautiful cars ever built, followed by the Convertibile, which, for Italians, is inextricably linked to the famous 1962 road movie “Il Sorpasso” (English title: “The Easy Life”).
Some other beauties
Various other cars really impressed the judges for their remarkable condition or beauty. One of the most admired was a 1955 Fiat 8V Coupé Pinin Farina, from the Modena-based Mario Righini collection. Built to a special design by Pinin Farina for a Mr Nasi, a member of the Agnelli family, this one-off car still has its original interiors (albeit requiring attention). Its design is a combination of the Ferrari 375 MM “Rossellini” and 250 SWB models and it sports a Fiat two-liter, 8-cylinder engine. It attracted a great deal of attention and was a serious contender for the Best in Show award.
Another car of note, on account of its historical importance, was a 1962 Giulia TI “Prototype Centro Stile” belonging the Lopresto collection. This car, originally a simple, non-functioning maquette, was built by the Alfa Romeo Centro Stile as part of the work on defining the final shape of the Giulia. For this reason, it differs in many features from the final product. Furthermore, its right and left sides are not the same and it is lacking some details, such as the rear lights. Another car that stood out was a gold 1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal brought by Montreal collector Daniele de Pietri Tonelli (he has five in his garage). This one is totally original and entirely intact. Indeed, it preserves even the smallest details, which are rarely still present on a car this age. It was entered in a difficult class in which it had to compete against a perfect, restored, Rosso Dino 1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” belonging to Giancarlo Stringhini, a long-term owner who is passionate about the model.
The Best in Show
The Best in Show award went to the winner of the “Grand Vitesse” class, a 1950 Ferrari 166 Berlinetta Le Mans owned by collector Umberto Camellini. This car (chassis #0042 M) has a wonderful history. It is one of only five built, and one of only three to have been painted in its present light blue color. It was originally ordered by a French “gentle-woman” driver, Yvonne Simon. The chassis, finished on May 1st 1950, was shown without the engine on the Ferrari stand at the XXXII Turin Motor Show from May 4th to 14th 1950, before being returned to Maranello to receive its engine. And here is the surprise: the type 195 engine (number 0042M), assembled on June 13th 1950, was based on the number 0026, which had been the engine used by Giannino Marzotto in the Mille Miglia. After being assembled, it was sent to Touring to be fitted in the car. Soon after the car was delivered in France, Madame Simon started using it to race. It made its debut on June 18th in Oporto where, as a factory entry, it finished 4th overall. On June 24th, it competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, entered by Luigi Chinetti and driven by Yvonne Simon and Michèle Kasse, but it ran out of fuel after six hours. It then went on to race at the Nürburgring and in a minor race in Belgium. On January 30th, 1951, the car was sold to Luigi Chinetti but continued to be driven by Madame Simon. It was entered in various events in this period, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951 (15th overall), the Susa-Moncenisio hillclimb, and the Prix de Monaco (where it did not start).
On June 17th, 1952, after the car had received Italian registration plates (MI 194242), Chinetti sold it to Antonio Stagnoli, the Piaggio dealer in Milan, but it continued to race, specifically in the Aosta Gran San Bernardo Hillclimb (driven by Simon) and in the Coppa Intereuropa in Monza (finishing 3rd in class, with E. Wartenweiler at the wheel). On 30th December 1952 it was sold to a buyer in Sicily, re-registered with number plate CL 3760, and raced in the XII Tour of Sicily (1st in Class). It was subsequently sold, and re-registered, in Rome, Florence, and then Rome again, where it remained until 1964, when it was sold to an American living in Rome who customized the front with a “GTO type” air intake. In 1965 it entered the ownership of the Camellini family, with whom it has remained ever since. It underwent a complete restoration in 1995/1996.
All pictures courtesy of the author.