• Apr 21, 2010
Recovered 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia – Click above for high-res image gallery

You might remember a story from last summer about the recovery of a vintage Bugatti from a lake in Italy. The story was both fascinating and sad, and definitely one worth recounting.

The tale begins, or so we're told, in Paris in 1934 when a Swiss man acquired the car from legendary racecar driver Rene Dreyfus in a game of poker. The man headed home in his new car, but when he arrived at the Swiss border, he was required to pay customs on the car. Not having enough money, the man left the car at Lake Maggiore. By law, the Swiss officials were supposed to destroy the car, and they apparently did so by pushing it into the lake.

A little more than thirty years later, the Bugatti was discovered by a local diving club in the summer of 1967. The car became a local attraction for divers who would plunge more than 170 feet to see the remains at the bottom of the lake. It would seem that the Bugatti would forever remain there until a tragedy changed its fate. A young local man, Damiano Tamagni was brutally beaten and killed, and the diving club decided that they would try and retrieve the car and sell it to benefit the foundation created in his name to combat youth violence. It took more than thirty volunteers and nine months, but the Bugatti was finally lifted from the lake on July 12, 2009.

From there the Bugatti was put up for auction for the highest bidder. At Bonham's Retromobile sale in Paris earlier this year, the Type 22 Brescia brought a top bid of £228,000 – around $350,000 USD – much higher than the pre-auction estimate. The winning bidder? None other than the Mullin Museum in Oxnard, CA. The museum has decided to not restore the Bugatti and display it in its current condition.

We were overjoyed to see the Type 22 Brescia in person at the museum's grand opening last week, and were fascinated with the different parts of the car that survived three-quarters of a century submerged underwater. The right side of the body is completely gone, but other items like the tires and some of the gauges are perfectly intact. You can see the car in detail in the high-res gallery below.



Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The tail begins..."

      Really, AB? If you guys need to hire a proofreader or something I'm available.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The headlights are missing. Driving at night will be tough.

      ;-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        They had zip ties back then?
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's one Bugatti "fossil" I'd be proud to own...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nothing alittle bondo and duct-tape cant fix up, heck even throw in a little primer and it will be right as rain.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And even after all those years at the bottom of a lake, it still maintains beautiful lines and stance.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There is a steam-punk sort of look to it, rusted gauges etc.. I think it is good it went to a museum, and they made a nice display with it as-is. The pics are worth looking at.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This type of car would be impossible to restore.

      Half of it's entire structure has corroded away. You need at least the general shape and size of the chassis to properly restore a car.

      As a work of art however, this is very eye catching, reminding me of Titanic in that it's over shape shows age, and history, but still with that little glimmer of beauty (such as the dipped curve at the bottom of the greenhouse, and the upright horseshoe grille).

      In essence, it's the little things that make a work of art, art.

      As an example, here in the national art museum of Ottawa, there is a canvas of a solid red base. It's valued at over 300,000 dollars U.S. What makes it worth so much? The state of mind it can put the viewer in.

      As is with this artwork, it makes me truly appreciate who we are as a human species even that much more, and the story of it's past tells more then it's current visual form ever could.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Actually, the story is that the car was hidden in the lake at the end of a chain to keep it away from tax authorities. The chain broke, and the car sank 150ft to the bottom...

      Source: http://www.sportscarmarket.com/Profiles/2010/April/Etceterini/
      • 4 Years Ago
      Recovered? Not the word I would choose to you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I see no value in leaving the car in that condition. It looks terrible and the story is not all that compelling. Be different if it was a car that Hitler was driving when he was detained by Swiss citizens, who then tied him in it and then sank it in a lake.

      I sure would not pay money just to view this car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ohh no, this is gorgeous. There were three options. One, leave it there. Two, pull it out and send it to the scrap yard. Three, what happened above. It really is the best option. A restoration would be useless, there is little work off of. More importantly it shows just how achingly beautiful this vehicle is, even in this decayed state.

        Then again, i'm a huge fan of places like Eastern State Penitentiary, so its no surprise that i get a kick out of this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You should really read the analysis by SCM here: http://www.sportscarmarket.com/Profiles/2010/April/Etceterini/

        The car was not bought as a car, but as a piece of art. Whether you like it or not is personal taste, but it's undeniable that, as a piece of art, it makes a strong statement.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I couldn't disagree more. It's a beautiful car (or was) and it has a great story. Besides, "restoring" it would basically be taking it apart and replacing every part of it individually. In other words, there's no point. Just buy or build a new one and you'd have the same end result.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A treasure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As a car, it looks like crap. As a work or art, it appears to be a great sculpture. Restoring it would be prohibitively expensive, if not impossible. On the other hand, a little Turtle Wax and all that damage might buff right out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      He must have hit a bird and ran into a lake.
    • Load More Comments