The 8 Most Exciting Cars At Italy’s Newest Concours, From A 1939 Alfa Romeo To A 1965 Bizzarrini

As the summer concours season winds down, a final group of dedicated automotive enthusiasts gathered in the heart of Italy’s “Motor Valley” this past weekend to celebrate the inaugural Concorso d’Eleganza Varignana 1705. In the sun-drenched hills just southeast of Bologna, on the lawns of Palazzo di Varignana, a curated group of only 23 cars was showcased amidst a 1,200-acre backdrop of olive trees and vineyards.

The field comprised automobiles built before 1973, and leaned heavily into the histories of local automakers such as Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo. Surprisingly, only one Porsche—a 964 Speedster skirting the pre-1973 rule—and no Lamborghinis made the cut, though iconic examples from the rest of Europe were also showcased, including those from manufacturers Bizzarrini, Ermini, and HRG.

Adding a new concours to the global calendar further expands the vision of Palazzo di Varignana’s owner, Carlo Gherardi. In 2005, Gherardi began purchasing the expansive property in piecemeal. It’s now home to six private villas (totalling 150 rooms), four restaurants, a spa, a winery, and an olive mill—all catering to oenophiles, gourmands, and vacationers interested in discovering traditional and sustainable production methods for some of Italy’s most renowned fare.

This event, though, was for motoring’s cognoscenti, who were on hand for a day of pageantry, judging, awards, and plenty of prosecco. The six classes included Pre-War Elegance, Heroic Races, Italian Fine Gems, Great Class Sport Car, Grit & Style, and German Icons. From the exclusive assemblage on hand, the following cars were the ones that we couldn’t stop staring at.

The name of defunct British automaker HRG traces back to the initials of the last names of its three founders, Major Edward Halford, Guy Robins, and Henry Ronald Godfrey. Established in 1936, HRG proved successful in period motor racing thanks to lightweight, aerodynamic designs—including this one-off Le Mans race car powered by a 1,500 cc Singer engine.

The example was originally built in 1939, but was given a body developed for racing at Le Mans in 1946. The HRG, wearing 2015 Mille Miglia roundels, looked unlike anything else on the lawns of Palazzo di Varignana, but ended up only second in class behind a Maserati Tipo 26.

This elegant Fiat roadster features rare front glass without side supports or surrounds of any kind. The design was patented in 1935 by Frenchman Jean Henri-Labourdette for the purpose of increasing visibility, and the thick windshield glass is matched by transparent plexiglass used for the steering wheel and door handles.

Previously published on Robb Report USA

Sign up for our Newsletters

Stay up to date with our latest series