With Italy beginning to emerge from lockdown after the ravages of the pandemic, it was only natural that one of the first moves towards getting back to normal was the celebration of automotive heritage like the fifth edition of the glamorous Poltu Quatu Classic Concours d’Elegance, which was held last weekend (10 – 12 July) under the slogan of “make life dolce again.”
Held on the Costa Smeralda of North Eastern Sardinia, the event was designed to take advantage of the picturesque beach resorts of the area, with the jewels of many important Italian and European vintage car collections paraded through the streets of the municipality of Arzachena.
The concours is aiming to become known as the most glamorous Concours d’Elegenza of the European summer, and aided somewhat by a lack of competition due to the pandemic this year, it is well on the way to achieving that goal.
The “Best in Show” trophy, for example, was designed and created by designer Fabrizio Giugiaro. Going to extraordinary lengths to get the mood just right, the jury of the Concours was dressed for the event by was dressed by Milanese men’s clothing brand Larusmiani and Concours participants each received a Poltu Quatu Classic version of the Tiro Victory Corporate T-Shirt created by historic Italian company Beretta.
Just as many of the most prestigious Concours d’Elegance have an associated Tour d’Elegance these days, the entire Saturday was dedicated to a panoramic tour of the Costa Smeralda by the participants.
The route was designed to give participants unforgettable scenery to admire from behind the wheels of their cars. The rest stop was several hours chilling out on the celebrated Vesper beach of Capriccioli, made famous by the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, where Roger Moore and Barbara Bach emerge from the crystal clear waters of the Costa Smeralda in the Lotus submarine after foiling the bad guys once more. The above scene was shot on Vesper Beach.
World Premiere for Bandini Dora electric Barchetta
The most newsworthy aspect of the Poltu Quatu Classic was the showing of the two prototypes by Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro’s GFG Style. The GFG VISION 2030 and the Bandini Dora electric barchetta were to have been presented at the cancelled Geneva Motor Show, with the rapidly growing importance of the Poltu Quatu Classic highlighted by its choice as the premier replacement. There’s a separate article on the Bandini Dora today so we won’t concentrate on it here.
Best of Show
It is rare that the winner of an automotive beauty contest would also be the winner of an all-comers race of the contestants, but the winner of the 2020 Poltu Quatu Classic Concours is still one of the world’s fastest road cars exactly half a century after it was new.
The Simeone Museum’s 1970 Porsche 917 LH was the beauty queen of the Poltu Quatu Classic Concours d’Elegance, being dubbed “psychedelic” for the livery it made famous when it contested the world’s most famous race.
The LH designation stands for the long tail Langheck version of the Porsche 917, which added 40 km/h to the 917K’s already brutally-fast top speed.
Only five long-tail chassis were made, designed specifically for high-speed straights at Le Mans, where this car achieved some remarkable feats. On 18 April 1971, at the Le Mans Pre-Test, this car ran the fastest ever lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe, clocking 3 minutes 13.6 seconds for an average speed of over 250 km/h (155 mph). During that lap, this car was timed at 386 km/h (240 mph) on the famous ultra-long Mulsanne Straight.
Sadly, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans eluded this car. It finished second in 1970 driven by Gérard Larrousse and Willi Kauhsen, behind the near identical car of Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood.
In 1971, this car led the famous race for eleven hours before retiring at 5:00 AM on Sunday morning due to weak oil pressure. The Porsche 917 is one of the most honored and revered cars in automotive history, and they are very closely held. These days cars routinely sell for more than a million dollars, but the first 917 to fetch more than the magic number was way back in 1998 when this long-tailed 917LH was purchased by the Simeone Museum for $1,047,500 at Christie’s Pebble Beach auction. The last 917 to cross the auction block fetched $14,080,000 at Gooding & Company’s official Pebble Beach auction in 2017.
There is an extensive story on this car at the Simeone Museum web site, including a photo gallery of the car during its competition heyday, when it was one of the most fearsome racing cars of not just its period, but in the history of motorsport. Today, it is a road car, and we have a number of images of it being driven and shown in the photo gallery for this story.
Best in Show Runner-up: 1955 Ferrari 857S
The Porsche 917 LH did not have things all its own way with the judges though, apparently taking best in show by a narrow margin from the 1955 Ferrari 857S. The 857S was produced by Ferrari to take on the all-conquering 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR sports racing cars of Fangio and Moss, and although it failed to match the dominant Silver Arrows on the racetrack, it gave Sergio Scaglietti the canvas for one of his most exquisite creations in this car.
Just four were built, with all of them having a roster of factory drivers circulated through them, and they are so closely held that only one has been to auction in recent times, fetching $6,270,000 at Gooding & Company’s official Pebble Beach auction in 2012. Today, the 857S would be a $10+ million car.
The list of famous drivers who have driven this beautiful car includes Olivier Gendebien, Phil Hill, Piero Taruffi, Eugenio Castellotti, Maurice Trintignant, Peter Collins, Louis Klemantaski and it had numerous starts in the hands of the legendary Marquis Alfonso de Portago before being flipped and rolled and nearly destroyed at Virginia International Raceway in 1957. It then disappeared from view for two decades before being discovered as a wreck in the Bronx in 1979, its engine found and reunited and it was restored to its former glory once more.
Racing Legends Class
Six classes were staged in the concours and the Racing Legends Class was dedicated to cars symbolizing the history of rallying. Not surprisingly, the class was won by the Lancia Delta Martini Safari of Edoardo Schon. The car was used in the African rally by two-time world champion Miki Biasion, and it had strong competition from another Delta Martini of Miki Biasion. The winning car passed from the Martini team into the hands of a Greek driver before arriving in Italy as part of Giorgio Schon’s collection.
Another competitor in the class came from yet another world champion in the form of a 2001 Ford Focus WRC driven that year by Colin McRae. The car that made its debut in the Monte Carlo Rally and represents the extreme evolution of the use of electronics in rally cars. It was brought to the Costa Smeralda by its current owner, the Consul of Antigua and former sailing Olympian Carlo Falcone.
Cars from the Mille Miglia
The Mille Miglia (“Thousand Miles”) was an endurance race held on Italian public roads from 1927 until 1957 when the cars had become far too fast to safely race with an estimated five million spectators lining the route. It will go down in history (with the Targa Florio and Carrera Panamericana) as one of the great motorsport events and it is obviously very dear to Italian hearts.
This class was won by a 1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet Pininfarina that competed in the 1949 Mille Miglia. The car is the height of elegance in its styling and the interior features a mother-of-pearl steering wheel and knobs. It was entered in the Concours by Mattia Colpani, winning the MILLE MIGLIA BOND.
In this class the Spirit of 1000 Miglia was also awarded to the car that best represented the essence of the Freccia Rossa – in this case Enrico Bertone’s Lancia Lambda Casaro which participated in the first edition of the Mille Miglia in 1927, and in the 90th anniversary edition in 2017 with Simone Bertolero – while Enzo Moroni’s 1954 blue France Osca Mt4 Morelli won the Jury Prize.
La Dolce Vita on the Costa Smeralda
Yes, that was one of the classes, with the winner of the class being the most glamorous car at the event. This 1953 Lancia Aurelia B52 Roadster Vignale was voted the class winner.
Ambitious plans for the 2021 Poltu Quatu Classic
“We are already working on the 2021 edition with an ambitious project that will involve the entire Costa Smeralda on the American model of the Monterey Car Week,” said event founder Simone Bertolero after the event. “The Poltu Quatu Classic will become the final act of a series of events dedicated to motoring in the wonderful setting of the most glamorous part of Sardinia, as the Pebble Beach Concours is in America, and will take place in the first week of June after the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance.”
See lots more photos in our Poltu Quatu Classic gallery.
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