Bugatti car that spent 70 years under water could fetch # 80k at auction!

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 09, 2010 07:00 hrs

A rare Bugatti that lay at the bottom of a lake for 73 years is set to fetch over 80,000 pounds at auction-the price of a brand new luxury motor.

The legendary car was dumped in the water in 1936 by a frustrated Swiss official because the owner had abandoned it without paying the import tax.

The value of the car was less than the money owed and the customs officer was compelled to destroy it.

Thus, he drove it over the Italian border to nearby Lake Maggiore - and pushed it into the deep waters.

The story became part of folklore in the nearby town of Ascona as locals debated whether the car actually existed.

After 30 years, the truth emerged after a keen diver rediscovered the Bugatti lying on its side 160 feet down at the bottom of the lake.

Since then, members of the local diving club regularly visited it and last year decided to raise it and sell it for a local charity.

Surprisingly, there was still air in the tyres and traces of the original Bugatti blue paint on the bodywork.

It is believed that 20 per cent of the vehicle is salvageable and collectors and museums are likely to be keen to buy it.

"We've offered a few things in our time in the motoring department, but nothing like this," the Sun quoted James Knight, of auctioneers Bonhams, as saying.

"Sometimes we get cars that have been hidden in barns for years, but never have we had one that's spent 70 years at the bottom of a lake," he added.

The proceeds from the car's sell will be donated to the Damiano Tamagni Foundation.

The Type 22 Bugatti, built in 1925, had four cylinders, a 1.5 litre engine and reach almost 100mph.

It was a touring two-seater with no roof and was very lightweight.

The sale is on January 23 at the Bonhams Retromobile sale in France. (ANI)