Brescia Bugatti Rescued from Lake Maggiore
The elegant two-seater was delivered new in April 1925 to a French architect living in Nancy. Around three years later, owner and car moved to Switzerland – without paying the necessary import duty on what was, for the time, a desirable, luxury car. On leaving Switzerland, the Frenchman left the car to his Swiss hosts in Tessin. In 1937 its new owners, fearful of recriminations from the authorities, decided to abandon it in the lake.
The car sank to a depth of 57 metres. As rumours abounded of its presence in the lake, various diving projects were started to find what is now an extremely valuable car. These culminated in the successful dive on 12 July 2009 when members of the Centro Sport Subacquei Salvataggio Ascona located the 84-year-old Bugatti and brought it to the surface – for the first time in 72 years. Its condition is surprisingly good and will – no doubt – form the basis for an extensive restoration.
The side of the car actually buried in the silt still retains its characteristic French blue paintwork, and the famous horseshoe grille is intact. Even the headlamps retain some chromework.
The car will be auctioned in aid of the Damiano Tamagni Foundation, a charity dedicated to the life of Damiano Tamagni, a young member of the Centro Sport Subacquei Salvataggio Ascona. Tamagni was beaten to death by three youths and the charity supports local efforts to prevent violence among the young.
The municipality of Ascona, where the car was disinterred, may well bid for the Bugatti as it forms part of local history.
Text: Classic Driver