FuoriConcorso Has Gone Green

by Dan Cogger
11 June 2024 4 min read
FuoriConcorso Has Gone Green
Photos courtesy FuoriConcorso

Colours make cars, so the most influential market commentators tell us, and no colour has experienced such a 180-degree spin in popularity as green. Growing up in the UK at the turn of the millennium, green cars were seen as unlucky and you hardly ever saw them. Jay Ward, the creative director for Pixar Animation Studios, agrees, and as we found ourselves walking through the intertwined grounds of Villas Grumello and Sucota, he remembered that green cars were viewed with the same distrust in the US a generation earlier.

Prompting our discussion was the theme for this year’s FuoriConcorso, the support act to the legendary Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, which was heavily focussed on British Racing Green. Fortunately, and for the sake of chromatic variety, first to greet us was an all-star grid of 15 Formula 1 icons, which were menacingly positioned toward you along the ascent of Grumello’s steep driveway. This effective arrangement offered a new perspective upon the timeline of sculptured surfaces as they gradually sharpened, traded national colours for sponsorship, and grew wings of increasing complexity.

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On chronological pole position was the beautiful 1962 Lotus-BRM 24, its lozenge-shaped tub spouting nothing more than fragile-looking chromed suspension arms. It was flanked by the 1966 ex-Jo Bonnier Cooper T81, which is half crimson cigar tube and half Maserati V12, with a mass of carburettor trumpets and writhing exhaust manifolds dominating the lithe frame’s silhouette.

Early attempts at harnessing the dark art of downforce were represented by the ex-John Surtees 1969 BRM P139, ahead of the ultimate 1970s high-airbox wedge in the form of Emerson Fittipaldi’s old faithful JPS Lotus 72/5. Carry on walking and, as the aerodynamics became more closely aligned with what we recognise today, it was the liveries which grew ever bolder: Embassy Hill, Warsteiner Arrows, Martini Brabham, Marlboro & West McLarens, HSBC Jaguar, and RBS Williams. All flashes of vibrant colour under the shade of the tall trees that line the driveway.

Out of the dappled light and waiting at summit, where Grumello and its 180-degree view of Lago di Como are delivered in spectacular fashion, were two British sports racing legends befitting the elegant dramatics: the Jaguar D-Type and McLaren F1 GTR. A match for the lake’s own shimmering blue beauty, this D was the 1955 ex-works long-nose chassis XKD 504. Born in British Racing Green during an initial spell in the factory team, it was then sold to Ecurie Ecosse for 1957 and received a makeover in the Scottish team’s distinguished opalescent Flag Blue.

Separated by the thick end of 40 years, but built with the same twice-around-the-clock raison d’etre as the Jag, is 18R. It was the spare McLaren F1 GTR for its sisters, the Fina-liveried 16R and 17R, during the 1996 Le Mans 24 Hours. That was before scoring three wins from three starts in Brazil later that year, with the likes of Piquet, Soper, and Cecetto at the helm. Repatriated to Germany and to the makers of its much-eulogised V12 heart, BMW, 18R was stripped of its lesser-known Hollywood cigarettes livery and restored to the No. 38 Fina colours from its role as understudy to 16R.

For this last weekend in May, Villa Sucota became ‘Casa Aston Martin’ with jewels from predominantly the Golden Age Collection showcasing the marque’s motorsport legacy, including its rich history at Le Mans. Two cars on display that contested that legendary French enduro were a 1933 1.5-Litre Le Mans and 1935 Ulster. The latter car is CML 719 and was a privateer entry for the ’35 race. It competed in the patriotic national colour of green, although its registration number was sequential to those of the works team cars, which were famously painted red. (One-time owner of Aston Martin and designer of many of its successful cars, “Bert” Bertelli, also believed green was unlucky . . .)

A remarkable trio of Astons – a DB2, DB3, and DB3S – represented the marque’s purple patch of international racing. The only one not finished in one of the many shades of green to be seen was the 1955 DB3S – chassis 115 – an evocative exponent of the prolific US West Coast club racing scene in the 1950s and ’60s, with a white-and-blue-stripes scheme that just pops in period Kodachrome photos. Its predecessor – DB3/6 – contested the British Grand Prix Sports Car race and the Tourist Trophy World Sports Car Championship race during 1953, before becoming a reserve entry for that year’s Le Mans.

It was the DB2, however, which impressed most, both for its originality and its mind-bending accomplishments. LML/50/8, known better by its works registration number VMF 64, was Aston Martin’s Swiss Army knife. One of the most successful cars to ever carry the winged ensign, it was twice a class winner at Le Mans, twice a class winner at the Mille Miglia, and first in class in the 1951 Alpine Rally. It wears its story with perfectly imperfect patina.

Dwarfing them all, though, in sheer size if not historical pre-eminence, was this year’s Aston Martin Formula 1 entry. But it was the new Valour and the always-crowd-pulling One-77 which held court among the armada of influencers who flock to this most photogenic of concours – and who no doubt also had one eye on Fuori’s generous photography competition, too. As we mentioned last year, this is an event that has been developed for the social media generation rather than having had to adapt to it.

Fuori has matured as an event since 2023. Its shortcomings then ranged from the not insignificant, such as the terrain’s unforgiving incompatibility for the less mobile, to the boring fundamentals of relatively poor signage etc. That said, part of Fuori’s charm is stumbling across racing cars as you amble through the upper reaches of the hillside woodland behind the villas – even if they serve simply to confirm that you were heading in the right direction. Up there, with even better views of this drop-dead gorgeous setting, brands such as Porsche and Koenigsegg have done some heavy lifting this time around by curating individual experiences for those braving the ascent. All helped by much clearer signage, we’re pleased to report. 

Fuori is still not perfect, and anyone in a wheelchair for example will still find much of the event inaccessible. Parking is almost impossible, and an admission price €150 seems expensive for an event aimed at a much younger audience. Encouragingly, however, the FuoriConcorso balances this with free admission for under 18s and half-price entry for those 18 to 25. With vibes akin to Monterey’s Quail Motorsports Gathering in combining genuinely important historic cars and those sure to go viral, alongside curated talks, cocktails, and live music, FuoriConcorso is unquestionably a valuable addition the weekend’s main event at Villa d’Este. It is certainly helping to bring green cars out of superstitious infamy which if, like me, you happen to like green cars, is only a good thing. We look forward to seeing which great cause the Fuori team will support in 2025. 

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