Lamborghini Concours: a tribute to Le Corbusier

Ever since the very early days of the Lamborghini brand, the owners of the cars manufactured in Sant’Agata Bolognese have stood out for their sheer passion for life, and for the joy they get from driving their (fast) cars. Although Concours of Elegance have not traditionally attracted the firm’s clients, a first indication of a change of heart came in 2013, during the celebrations for the brand’s 50th anniversary.

When Stefano Domenicali was appointed the new CEO of the company, his idea of “looking back to our traditions to speed up and shape our future” paved the way for developing the Polo Storico, the firm’s classic department — a branch of the company responsible for managing Lamborghini’s certification of classic cars, as well as restorations and spare part manufacturing. With more and more cars restored by the Polo Storico appearing at classic car shows all over the world (just a few weeks ago the latest one, a restored Miura P400 owned by Gian Paolo Dallara, took Best in Show at the English Salon Privé), Automobili Lamborghini itself recently decided to get directly involved in this world, organizing a meeting for its classic cars and extending the invitation to the most recently manufactured one-offs. The result was the Lamborghini & Design Concorso d’Eleganza, which, paying tribute to visionary architect Le Corbusier, took place in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, on 16th and 17th September.

As Stefano Domenicali remarked during an impassioned speech at Saturday’s gala dinner of the Lamborghini Concours, “This event will be the first of many, because they are a perfect excuse to drive our cars, spend time among friends and look back at our heritage of beauty and style”. Fifty cars took part in the show and most of them also participated in the “Tour du charme et du design” on the Saturday, which took the convoy to visit two of Le Corbusier’s most famous houses (Maison Blanche and Villa Turque) as well as the Musée International d’Horologerie. Best in Show went to a 1971 Miura SV, while the special Best of the Best prize went to an amazing 1967 Marzal.

Lamborghini Concorso d’Eleganza 2017: The Best in Show

As mentioned, the Best in Show award was assigned to a 1971 Miura SV (chassis #4838), owned by Japanese collector Eizo Tomita. The car was bought by its current owner more than 25 years ago, driven and properly preserved, and only in more recent years restored. Still perfect and looking great in its Verde Senape color, it was shipped from Japan especially for the show. It beat the 10 other Best in Class winners, selected by the team of international judges. Incidentally, all three Miura classes (Miura P400, Miura P400 S and Miura SV) were won by green cars (albeit different shades of green).

A hyper-award for a hyper-car: The Best of the Best

Usually the Best in Show award is the eagerly awaited closing moment of a classic car event, but in Neuchâtel, Lamborghini bucked this trend. The company realized, on looking at the entry list, that the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal (chassis #10001) owned by Swiss collector Albert Spiess would leave all the other cars without a chance of winning Best in Show. Indeed, it deserved a trophy for its history alone: this is a one-off created by Bertone, styled by Gandini, and propelled by a six-cylinder engine created by chopping a Miura engine in two. It was used by Prince Ranieri and Princess Grace to lap the Monte Carlo race track just before the 1967 Formula 1 Grand Prix, and it is also one of the world’s most important, most stunning, and most renowned show cars.

What is more, it is fresh from a restoration, performed to the highest standards, that has returned it, after many years of neglect, to its original condition. For all these reasons, it was felt that the Marzal, which obviously won its class, also deserved a special trophy acknowledging its status as the Best of the Best. And what a trophy! It stands about 2.5 meters tall and weighs 200 kilos. In this way, the competition for the traditional Best in Show prize remained open to the other contenders, and was duly awarded to a more “normal” special car. But it has to be said that the Marzal stole the show. Millions of pictures must have been taken of it, and even Mitja Borker, chief designer at Lamborghini, spent a considerable amount of time admiring it in the minutest detail.

An explosion of luxury at Lamborghini Concours: The LM 002 SUV

The most impressive Lamborghini ever has to be the LM 002, a huge SUV (even though the term SUV had not even been coined when it came into being). It was created in the late 1980s, when Lamborghini decided to pair the V12 five-liter engine, taken from the Countach, with a 4WD transmission and an off-road body. Its interior, not that spacious given the external size of the car, was an explosion of luxury: all wood and leather. It was capable of absolutely amazing performances, too, for example it could go from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds and had a top speed of 200 km per hour.

The winner of the LM 002 class was a 1991 fuel-injected car (chassis #ZA9LU45A2LLA12284), originally owned by 1982 Formula 1 World Champion Keke Rosberg. “Rosberg already owned a carbureted LM 002” says current custodian, Yves Saguato, “as I did. When he bought a new LM 002, this time with an injection engine, he requested that the firm make some modifications. This is why this car has some unusual features, like the American side lights on a European version car; other differences are its front grille, chromed bull bars, and air intake on the front fender, as well as the lower part of its sides. When, after keeping the car for a few years, Rosberg decided to put his LM 002 up for sale, I promptly bought it. I drove it to this show, but I had to stop four times on the way to refill, even though the fuel tank is quite big!”

The car driven the furthest to Lamborghini Concours

Classic cars are meant to be driven, and Lamborghinis more so than most, as they really are  wonderful and satisfying cars to take on the road. Fortunately, most Lamborghini owners appreciate this, and so quite a few chose to drive their cars to the Lamborghini Concours, and then back home again, on open roads. The trophy for the car driven the longest distance to attend the show (a beautiful metal plaque signed by Enrico Maffeo of Polo Storico and all the judges) went to a 1987 Countach QV (chassis #ZA9C005A0HLA12165) owned by Briton Harry Metcalfe, founder of the British magazine EVO.

Metcalfe, not new to this sort of journey, initially headed south to Nice, for a brief holiday, before driving north to attend the event. The journey “has been 2500 km so far,” Metcalfe told us, “and it has been absolutely trouble free and wonderful. I have done more than 20,000 miles in my Countach, and loved every minute. In order keep the car in good shape, in addition to the regular maintenance, I pay a professional detailer to go over the car once a year. That way, I know that I can drive it, get it dirty and then get it back to better than before in a short space of time”. Metcalfe’s Countach won its class too. Other long-distance drivers attending the event were the owners of a 1970 Miura S (from England), a 1983 Jalpa (from Italy), and a 1991 LM 002 (from Monte Carlo).

All photos courtesy of the author.

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