Monday, March 1, 2010

How much would you pay?

1925 Bugatti Brescia Roadster

A close cousin of above

I was researching a post on an Ettore Bugatti subject related to motorcycling when I came across this story. On the 25th of January, Bonhams auctioned the severely corroded 1925 Bugatti Type 22 at the 2010 Retromobile Show in Paris. The vehicle was estimated to sell for 70,000 to 90,000 pounds and ended being the subject of a bidding war topping off at 260,500 pounds. Experts agree that it is impossible to restore the vehicle since only about 10% of the parts are usable. The new owner will most likely leave it in state as an exhibit for a new automotive museum in California.

The real value of this wonderful piece of  early automotive engineering rests in the story of this particular example. This 1925 Bugatti Type 22 "Brescia" was pulled from Lake Maggiore after 70 years of resting in over 50 meters of water. The rumor of a submerged Bugatti had been passed around until the August 18, 1967 when Ugo Pillon discovered the car laying on its side. For the next 70 years, the Bugatti was a popular dive location of the Centro Sport Subacquei Salvataggio Ascona.

Why the car ended up in Lake Maggiore is more a story of practicality than intrigue. The car was initially purchased by a gentleman in Nancy, France then sold to an architect in Paris by the name of Georges Nielly. In some manner or other it may have come into the hands of Marco Schmuklerski, a polish architect, around 1936. The legend is that the import duties were never paid  and the local taxman knew it. As was the custom, the vehicle had to be destroyed  and that is perhaps how it ended up at the bottom Lake Maggiore.

The story of its return to the surface however is decidedly more tragic. The Bugatti was raised from the depths by the local dive club to raise funds for the Damiano Tamagni Foundation. Damiano Tamagni, a dive club member, was brutally beaten to death by three youths in Ascona. The exhibition of this Bugatti is a fitting tribute to Damiano Tamagni and the proceeds from the auction will definitely help his foundation do its work.

For a more in depth version of this story go here.

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