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Monday, January 11, 2010

Bugatti pulled from lake after 73 yrs to be sold at auction


A LEGENDARY car that lay at the bottom of a lake for 73 years is set to fetch more than £80,000 at auction — the same as a brand new luxury motor.

The rare Bugatti was dumped in the water in 1936 by a frustrated Swiss official because the owner had abandoned it without paying the import tax.

In all its glory ... in this shape, a Bugatti can be worth up to £200,000
In all its glory ... in this shape, a Bugatti can be worth up to £200,000

The value of the car was less than the money owed and the customs officer was compelled to destroy it.
He drove it over the Italian border to nearby Lake Maggiore — and pushed it into the deep waters.


The story became part of folklore in the nearby town of Ascona as locals debated whether the car actually existed.
Thirty years on the truth emerged when a keen diver rediscovered the Bugatti lying on its side 160 feet down at the bottom of the lake.
From then on members of the local diving club regularly visited it and last year decided to raise it and sell it for a local charity.
Incredibly there was still air in the tyres and traces of the original Bugatti blue paint on the bodywork.
It is believed that 20 per cent of the vehicle is salvageable and collectors and museums are likely to be keen to buy it.
James Knight, of auctioneers Bonhams, said: "We've offered a few things in our time in the motoring department, but nothing like this.
"Sometimes we get cars that have been hidden in barns for years, but never have we had one that's spent 70 years at the bottom of a lake.
"The story as we know it is that in the late 1920s or early 1930s the car was taken to Switzerland by its French owner.
"The import duties and taxes were not paid and the owner just left it. The car was ten or 11-years-old by then and not worth as much as the money owed.
"Eventually the customs official got fed up and pushed it into the lake. He was legally obliged to destroy it and rolling it into the lake seemed the best way.
"The story entered local folklore and in the 1960s a diver called Ugo Pillon decided to try and find it, and in 1967 he located it on its side about 50 metres down.

"From then on divers from the local club dived on it just as a curiosity.
"But recently one of the diver club's members was attacked and died and a foundation was set up in his memory to help combat juvenile violence.
"The club decided to raise the car to sell it and donate the money to the Damiano Tamagni Foundation."
The Type 22 Bugatti, built in 1925, had four cylinders, a 1.5 litre engine and reach almost 100mph. It was a touring two-seater with no roof and was very lightweight.
Later versions of the car were made in France, but this was known as a Brescia Bugatti, after the Italian town where it was manufactured.
The sale is on January 23 at the Bonhams Retromobile sale in France.


Unknown January 12, 2010 at 4:35 PM  

Wasn't that the car run off the road in the beginning of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?