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Extremely rare Bugatti finds home in New Zealand

29 June, 2015

Generally speaking, Bugattis are a rare and elusive breed on New Zealand shores. But among the few that reside here, there is one that stands out above the rest in terms of rarity, and New Zealand Classic Car magazine was among the few-hundred invited guests to witness its revelation at Hamilton’s Classics Museum earlier this month.

Owned by Classics Museum owner Tom Andrews, this 1937 Bugatti Type 57 carries an interesting history — and it’s set to have an equally interesting future ahead of it.

By common knowledge thought to be almost extinct, this particular Type 57 — one of only 719 ever built by Bugatti — was discovered in December 2014 in western France as part of ‘The Baillon Collection’. One of the largest barn find treasure-troves in recent history, the 60 cars recovered fetched a total price of US$28.5 million (just shy of NZ$42 million), at auction — some US$10 million higher than price estimated. Tom’s seasoned Type 57 sold for NZ$489,260.

Initially built as a Gangloff-bodied Bugatti, this example was rebuilt with a Ventoux body before eventually winding up in Roger Baillon’s collection of cars where it would sit and rust alongside many other exotic European classics for several decades before being sold to Tom and subsequently making the trip to New Zealand.

While it was revealed to the public in a rather sorry-looking state, the car is set to undergo a remarkable transformation. Tom’s short-term goal is to rebuild it as a Ventoux-bodied car. But his long-term goal is more intriguing: he plans to eventually rebuild the car as a Bugatti Atlantic — one of the rarest, most sought-after cars ever made.

With only four examples ever produced, the Atlantic is a grail for many, as evidenced by Ralph Lauren’s stunning, award-winning, black Type 57SC Atlantic selling for US$40 million (NZ$58.4 million) in 2010. Its swooping lines and curves live on as an exemplary sample of 1930s design and engineering. The notion of a fifth Atlantic rising from the ashes and finding its home in New Zealand is exciting to say the least.

But for now, Tom’s Type 57 will be rebuilt in Ventoux form. We’ll be following this one with plenty of interest!

Becoming fond of Fords part two – happy times with Escorts

In part one of this Ford-flavoured trip down memory lane I recalled a sad and instructive episode when I learned my shortcomings as a car tuner, something that tainted my appreciation of Mk2 Ford Escort vans in particular. Prior to that I had a couple of other Ford entanglements of slightly more redeeming merit. There were two Mk1 Escorts I had got my hands on: a 1972 1300 XL belonging to my father and a later, end-of-line, English-assembled 1974 1100, which my partner and I bought from Panmure Motors Ford in Auckland in 1980. Both those cars were the high water mark of my relationship with the Ford Motor Co. I liked the Mk1 Escorts. They were nice, nippy, small cars, particularly the 1300, which handled really well, and had a very precise gearbox for the time.
Images of Jim Richards in the Carney Racing Williment-built Twin Cam Escort and Paul Fahey in the Alan Mann–built Escort FVA often loomed in my imagination when I was driving these Mk1 Escorts — not that I was under any illusion of comparable driving skills, but they had to be having just as much fun as I was steering the basic versions of these projectiles.

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.