Rare Bugatti goes up in flames

It's with a heavy heart that we report to you the passing of an automotive icon. Grover Berryman's Van Vooren-bodied 1935 T57 Bugatti convertible coupe (S/N 57287), is no longer with us. In a black comedy-of-errors that might have been considered hilarious if it had happened to something like the Vettamino, the classic Bug burned to the ground, taking most of the garage with it. You really need to click through the read link and discover the whole story, but we'll try to sum it up for you here.

Air Force officer Grover Berryman buys the Bug from the original owner while stationed in France in the early 1950s. He drives the T57 whenever he can around Europe. When he leaves Europe for Saudi Arabia, he decides to ship the car home to the States. His friend Ken Purdy takes care of the car until Grover returns home in 1954. Purdy had even had the engine and transmission rebuilt. The car was repainted with some fairly effective lacquer that lasts for 40 years. He drives it everywhere, but his Air Force duties lead him to park it in a Pennsylvania barn in 1960. It sits there until 1996. Berryman and the car move to San Juan Island, Washington when he retires. The Bugatti gets redone and shows up at the odd family wedding and concours. Berryman's Van Vooren T57 is believed to be the only two-owner full-size Bugatti in the United States.

And then tragedy strikes. While preparing the car for a local show, starter fluid ignites the engine, but also causes a backfire that sets the gasoline-saturated carpets ablaze. The car is pinned in and by the time it can be moved, the damage is done and only gets worse as the roof of the garage caves in on it as well. Poor Grover only had it insured for a fraction of its half-million dollar value too. The cost of rebuilding it would have to come out of his own pocket, so it is unlikely it will be resurrected any time soon. What a shame. Along with the Figoni & Falaschi Delahayes and Delages, these Bugattis were among the most beautiful cars from that golden age of coachbuilding. Our deepest condolences.

[Source: Sports Car Market]

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