Villa d’Este: the technology of the most fascinating cars on display

Today, just like then, but with ninety years more technology: this is the story of the Pirelli Collezione range on display at the Concorso d’Eleganza

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Villa d’Este: the technology of the most fascinating cars on display

The car of the stars and the victory tyre: what could be a more apt pairing to compete at the most prestigious European classic car event? The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 A was the status symbol car during the first half of the 20th Century, and it is still synonymous with unparalleled elegance today, fitted with the top of the range tyres at the time, the Pirelli Superflex Cord. In 1929, this pairing won the first edition of the Concorso di Eleganza Villa d’Este. Today, ninety years later, Pirelli returns to Lake Como as an official partner of the event and with some novelties devised specifically for the cars which made the history of the most famous Concours d'Elegance. For instance the Collezione range, now also with markings indicating the development in partnership with automobile marques.

The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 A is a luxury car introduced in 1924. The technical data and the exorbitant price made it more suitable for the US market rather than the European one, so much so that about a third of the cars was sold in the United States. Exactly 5 metres long, its long bonnet was home to the first straight-eight engine in history, and the most powerful of the time on a mass-produced car. Its fame made it the most popular car among American celebrities and ushered it into the history of film-making: starring in several Hollywood films, it appeared on film as a star in "Sunset Boulevard" (1950), winner of three Oscars.

But the Isotta Fraschini had already conquered glory in 1929, winning the Concorso di Eleganza Villa d'Este. At the first edition of this historical classic car event, the car was fitted with the Pirelli Superflex Cord, known as "the victory tyre": in fact, the same tyre model led several cars such as Alberto Ascari and Giuseppe Campari’s Alfa Romeo P2 to victory at the first World Automotive Championship at the Monza circuit in 1925.

Ninety years after the first edition and the first victory, Pirelli returns to equip some of the most fascinating cars of the event. That’s not all: at the next Concorso d’Eleganza, the starring role will be played by a new version of Pirelli technology catering to the enhancement of the historic automotive heritage. Indeed, on the premises of Villa Erba, Pirelli will be exhibiting its Collezione range dedicated to vintage cars. The Collezione family, which currently makes it possible to fit tyres onto cars from the 1930s to youngtimers from the Noughties, includes tyres boasting a classic appearance but packed with modern technologies, which allow vintage cars to continue to travel and to be admired. This way the appearance and driving dynamics remain faithful to those of the original car, but the modern technology offers an entirely contemporary level of efficiency and safety.

The range starts with the legendary Stella Bianca, initially launched in 1927; then there’s the Stelvio, which was restyled and brought back to life in 2018 exclusively to equip the Ferrari 250 GTO, the most expensive car in the world; the CA67 (1955), CN72 (1964), CN36 (1968), CN12 (1968), Cinturato P7 (1974), P5 (1977), P Zero (1984) and P700-Z (1988). To design them, the images provided by the Pirelli Fondazione were instrumental, and their construction involved the use of techniques similar to those used specifically for motorsport tyres, in the Turkish factory in Izmit. The result is a product that combines performance, style and authenticity, which fans can find at dealers who specialise in vintage cars as well as in Pirelli flagship stores, the P Zero World (Los Angeles, Munich, Monte Carlo, Dubai and soon also Melbourne).

Audi with the P700-Z for the Sport Quattro, Jaguar with the P Zero for the XJ220, Lamborghini that requested the CN12 for the Miura and Ferrari who wanted to bring back to life the Stelvio exclusively for the 250 GTO: Pirelli’s Perfect Fit strategy also applies to Pirelli Collezione tyres and these are the same automotive marques who ask that some tyres be redesigned for the most important classic cars. The shared development between the vehicle engineers and the tyre engineers makes it possible to achieve the best possible pairing, to accommodate the characteristics of the car and maximise safety. This is how the tyres marked with a symbol identifying the different car manufacturers on the side have come to be; a sign indicating how each marked tyre is developed specifically for the car that needs to be fitted with it. 

The newest addition to this strategy will be making its debut at Villa d'Este, namely the 16” P-700 Z which was redesigned for the BMW Z1. Along with the latter, other iconic models of Pirelli's partner automotive marques will proudly be displayed at the Pirelli booth. A symbol of the brand’s commitment to making elegance and classic ever topical.

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