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 the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California in its partially reclaimed glory as living proof of the craftsmanship of the era in general, and the Bugatti marque in particular. The underbidder, an American, had intended to restore the car.
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 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.
Rumours 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. Considering it has been sub merged for nearly three quarters of a century, the car was in remarkable condition.
They do not make 'em like this any more.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The "Lady of the Lake" is now on display at the Mullin Automotive Museum.