Wheelspin: The reason for the underwater Bugatti

04/27/2013 6:30 AM

04/27/2013 6:30 AM

Well, it didn’t take long for Wheels readers to nail the quiz question I posed last week about the 1925 Bugatti in the lake in Switzerland. John Masters of Wichita was the first of more than 20 people to submit the correct answer early last Saturday morning.

His response was the first thing I saw in my inbox, a little after 6 a.m. So he wins Ed Barr’s comprehensive how-to book, "Professional Sheet Metal Fabrication." Ed Barr, again, is an instructor at McPherson College’s Auto Restoration Program and wrote the book, which is part of the Motorbooks Workshop Series published by Quayside Publishing Group.

So why did that Bugatti get dunked in the drink?

According to "History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries Myths and Rumors Revealed," the car was lost in a poker game. But when the new owner, a Swiss gambler/race car driver/bartender couldn’t pay the import duties on the Bugatti, authorities seized it and, for some weird reason, hung it on chains about 35 feet under the surface of Lake Maggiore.

That was back in 1934. The Type 22 roadster eventually broke free and sank to the bottom, about 170 feet down, where it silently rotted away for 75 years.

In 2009, the car was hauled to the surface and eventually wound up on display as a rusted, unrestored hulk in the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif.

There’s a moral to this story somewhere in there, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Enjoy your book, John.

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