This car sold for US$360,000 in this condition ... and will not be restored
By Mike Hanlon
February 1, 2010
An archeological find of some magnitude went under the hammer this week, when a rusted 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia that has spent the last three quarters of a century at the bottom of a lake in North Italy was auctioned. When found and raised, it validated a legend that had circulated for 70 years. Mercifully, it will not be restored, but will live on in an American museum in its partially reclaimed glory as living proof of the craftsmanship of the era in general, and the Bugatti marque in particular. The Italian legend fetched a staggering EUR 260,500 - US$360,000. They do not make 'em like this any more.
One of the most remarkable stories of automotive history closed another fascinating chapter at the third annual Bonhams Rétromobile sale on January 23 when the legendary Lake Maggiore 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia fetched EUR 260,500. The car was purchased by a European enthusiast representing the Peter Mullin Collection in California, where the car will become a museum exhibit in its present unrestored condition. The car was raised from the floor of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy last July, where it had been more than 50 meters below the surface, for over 70 years.
The story of the majestic two-seater began in April 1925 when it was delivered new to an architect living in Nancy, France. Three years later, the owner moved to Switzerland, taking his Bugatti with him, but he failed to pay the import duty on the car. On leaving Switzerland, the Frenchman left the car to his Swiss hosts in Tessin. In 1937 its new owners, fearing that they may be fined for failing to pay the hefty import duty, dumped the car in the lake.
It hence became one of those urban legends. Some believed it to be true, that such a car had been dumped in the lake, but most did not.
Rumors circulated for seven decades of a pristine Bugatti being at the bottom of the Lake, before members of the Centro Sport Subacquei Salvataggio Ascona located the 84-year-old Bugatti and brought it to the surface on July 2009.
The car was auctioned on January 23 at the third annual Bonhams Rétromobile sale in Paris, with the car expected to bring between EUR 70,000 and EUR 90,000. A number of telephone bidders sparred against those in the room, with the winning bidder finally parting with EUR 260,500. The underbidder, an American, had intended to restore the car. Considering it has been sub merged for nearly three quarters of a century, the car was in remarkable condition as these detailed shots on ClassicDriver demonstrate.
After a 50 year hiatus, the Bugatti badge returned to the road a few years back and quite appropriately, new owners Volkswagen produced a masterpeice to continue the essence of this brand.
The Bugatti Veyron was a car as breathtaking as those which created the legend on the roads and racetracks of Europe prior to WW2. Named after the most famous racing driver of the thirties, Pierre Veyron, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 became the fastest and most expensive production car ever ever produced.
In short, Ettore Bugatti was an Italian aristocrat born into a famous family of artists and sculptors. Bugatti tackled automation and became a lion in the development of high quality and high performance machinery. His track record of building machinery which captured world speed records in four quite different endeavours - cars, boats, trains AND aeroplanes, make Ettore Bugatti, an auto polymath with no equal.
He chose a different path, but in a family of extraordinary high achievers, it was Ettore who gave the family name its global renown. Bugatti also built the most successful racing car in history and the most expensive automobile in history.
VW purchased the name a few years ago and created the fastest, most powerful, most expensive Veyron, and in so doing, the exclusive brand name was successfully resurrected. Next up for Bugatti is the US$1,470,000 16C Galibier, which will be, predictably, the fastest, most exclusive and most powerful four door automobile available. The Galibier comes with a Tourbillon wristwatch by Parmigiani which doubles as the clock on the dashboard.
Only people with the car get the wristwatch.
Bugatti's roadcars were fittingly, extraordinary and can be found here.
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