Villa d’Este has been trying to reintroduce the idea of showing new designs for the first time at the Concorso. Since the judging panel has motor industry connections, the evaluation of concept cars has been delegated to the greater public at the Sunday presentation of the participating cars. The field was impressive, with a full dozen machines which came from recent motor shows. Unfortunately, the public penchant for glitz and bling led to a scandal that threatens the idea of seeing cars at the Villa d’Este before they are shown elsewhere.
One of the dozen “concept” cars was nothing more than color-and-trim special model of a production model, albeit a very limited production: the Bugatti Veyron with Hermes leather inside and special colors outside. Of course, since at the rarefied level of million-dollar plus cars color choice is a given, this means that cars that truly are one-off concepts were devalued by the public choice of the Bugatti. “There was no need for GM to have brought the coupe, they could have had a gold-plate trim with 26-inch dubs and called that a concept,” said one incensed observer.
The rules are going to have to be tightened to exclude modified production models that anyone – any billionaire, at any rate – can buy off the showroom floor, or this excellent initiative will be vitiated by Sir Thomas Gresham’s law, laid down more than four hundred years ago: bad money drives out the good. For proof, find a silver half-dollar still in circulation.