Ultra-rare cars showcase at Kyoto Concorso d’Eleganza 2019

Kyoto Concorso d’Eleganza 2019
On the picturesque grounds of Nijō Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former shogun residence in the heart of Kyoto, Japan, 54 of the rarest and most prized classic cars were on display for Kyoto Concorso d’Eleganza 2019. Founded by Hidetomo Kimura and chaired by world famous car collector Corrado Lopresto, this is the third edition and now officially recognised by the Fédération International des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), the worldwide federative association of historic automobile clubs, as an important concorso in Asia.  The majestic architectural settings coupled with the quality of the cars on displayed could have rivaled the experience at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este – except there is no prosecco on tap (no F&B allowed in the castle) and Simon Kidston is split into 3 persons speaking English, Italian and Japanese.

Zagato Celebrates 100th Anniversary
As part of Zagato’s centenary celebration, there was a wide range of super rare Zagato bodied cars spanning the century starting with 1930’s Alfa Romeo pre-war race cars, 1950’s diminutive Fiat-Abarths, 1960’s GTs, 1980’s oddities to modern day carbon-fibre bodied limited editions penned by Zagato design chief Norihiko Harada.

American collector Bill Pope’s unique 1965 Lamborghini 3500 GT Zagato was awarded “Best of Show” and “Best Zagato” by a panel of judges led by Sandra Button, chairman of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  “Best Lamborghini” went to a 1971 Miura SV in Verde Miura. “Best Alfa Romeo” went to a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato. “CHAPAL Desirable to drive” went to a 1976 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio.

My Car
My 1957 Fiat-Abarth 750GT Zagato competed in “Class 750” but lost to a well-deserved Moretti 750 Zagato with period racing history. Kudos to the Japanese owner for keeping it on the road.  The other entrant from Hong Kong Douglas Young brought along his Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ that has been his daily driver for the last 20 years.  It’s full of originality and patina that it would’ve surely won Conservation Class if there was one.

Tour d’Eleganza
The morning after the show, some of us took part on a 3-day Tour d’Eleganza rally starting from Nijō Castle, traveling 300km westbound towards Takamatsu via the beautiful Seto-ohashi Bridge.  The second day we explored the wonders of Naoshima and stayed overnight in Kotohira.  On the last day, co-driver Carl Yuen and I woke up at 6am to do a morning drive through the mountains of Kagawa before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.  On the last leg of the journey, my car suffered an engine problem and we had to make an emergency stop on the hard shoulder.  A very helpful Emii Matsunaga in the convoy asked her friend Akihiro-san to call for a tow truck which came to my rescue.  He later showed up in his Jaguar XK120 in which he raced at the Mille Miglia five times!  I caught up with the convoy again at the next meeting point and hitch-hiked the rest of my journey in an open top Cisitalia 202MM Nuvolari Spider.  How cool is that?

The car currently is at the shop awaiting inspection.  I hope to be back on the road soon to explore rural Japan again.