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Concorso Villa d’Este: Meet the beauties on the lake

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Even if the event took place mainly behind closed doors, there was still plenty of beauty to behold at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza on the borders of Lake Como. And the Hornet, that was something you had to hear.

The earphones give it away. Austrian restoration specialist Egon Zweimüller already knows what will happen when he will fire up the 1968 Howmet TX Turbine Car in the classical surroundings of the Villa d’Este in Cernobbio (Italy). Grandeur and race cars don’t match very well, making the scene all the more extraordinary. Zweimüller was showing the car on behalf of a client and made sure the Howmet’s appearance did not go unnoticed.

Photos Peter Singhof

It’s a gas

The Howmet TX Turbine Car was developed in 1968 as an experimental car to investigate the possibilities to enter a gas turbine-driven car in racing. Although other companies, including Lotus with the Type 56, tried their hand at this technology as well, it was the Howmet that would secure a first victory for the technology. Originally designed by Ray Heppenstall, the car is based on a Bob McKee chassis and was sponsored by the Howmet Casting company that supplied turbine castings to the aero industry. First, it was entered in the sports car championship in Sebring as well as in the UK but minor problems prevented an early victory. So it was back in the US at the SCCA Huntsville race where the car would ultimately take the first victory. With a starting procedure of several minutes and the infernal noise the car made quite an appearance in the morning entering the field as well as at the awards ceremony.

Photos Peter Singhof

Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France

How fitting for us that it should be a car from the racing category ‘Five decades of endurance racing history’ that would take top honours in the Concours. US-owner Brian Ross’s 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Tour de France not only won the category but was elected Best of Show as well. Chassis 0507gt was only the second car in the Tour de France-series Ferrari built. On the day it was registered, it was entered in the Mille Miglia. The car would see more races and hill climbs, but would only compete in the famous Tour de France itself when it was already 3 years old. It failed to finish.

After some modifications, the car ended up in a museum in Denmark where it stayed 3 decades before it was brought back to its original configuration. Another correction of the body while being certified at the factory resulted not only in the class victory but also the Best of Show overall at the Villa D´Este this year.

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Photos Peter Singhof

Small engine, minimal weight

While Ferrari always opted for the biggest engine to do the job, the next car in the class at Villa d’Este took a completely different approach. We are talking about the 1964 Alpine M64 Mitch McCullough (US) entered. With a light fibreglass body and a tuned 1149 cc engine from Gordini the Alpine won the index of “Thermal Efficiency” at Le Mans in 1964.

Another Ferrari present was the 512 BBLM. After the Scuderia Ferrari had withdrawn from the Sports Car Championship in favour of F1, it was up to the privateers to race modified Ferrari street cars. In the early 1980s, the purpose-built Le Mans version of the 512 BB – the 512 BB LM – was entered by the likes of Nart, Pozzi or Ecurie Franchorchamps. Unfortunately, technical problems, as well as too much weight, left the BB LM barely any chance against the Porsche 935 Turbo. The car shown at Como, entered by Austrian Andreas Mohringer, was raced in the US, although it failed to finish both in Daytona and Sebring.

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