Written by Simon Haldy
We went into a very small dusty and cold room filled with a delicious smell of old gas and oil. This so called ‘workshop’ was packed with work-benches, tools, shelves filled with books and wooden boxes all over the floor. While admiring this delightful mess, I noticed a wonderful Bugatti front axle on a work-bench, just like a hunting trophy. “Nice, isn’t it, I’ve just finished polishing it. I’ll show you my treasure, here is a crankshaft, here is another one, some clutch parts should be somewhere here and oh, did you see the engine block behind those shelves?” And so on… The man enumerated all these precious parts as if they were fruits and vegetables. The Bugatti man had been collecting as many parts as possible with his father for years. “With Bugatti you should have a lot of spare parts, you know and anyway they look so great, sometimes I use them as sculptures”.
Our host invited us in his castle for a drink and showed me a lot of photos of cars he had owned, driven or simply encountered.”But the Atalante is my favorite, that’s why I am going to keep it”. The man couldn’t have been more cruel to me.
Not only hadn’t I unearthed a barn find, but all my hopes to ever own this marvel evaporated. To my great surprise my father asked: “Are you sure that you are not willing to sell the car?” ” Of course not, but I know some good ones for sale that might interest you”. I was really astonished by my dad’s sudden interest, because he had never shown interest before in buying one. “OK, just stay in touch… I am moving from Switzerland, but I’ll try to find a great example for you… anyway I’ll let you know”.
When we left the castle, I had a great smile on my face. I now believed that my father was definitely willing to buy a Bugatti and that such a jewel from Molsheim would be sitting in our garage in a very short time. I was pretty sure of that. I know what you’re thinking and you are right. I shouldn’t have asked my father to have my dreams come true at my age. But let me just remind you that in those days a Type 57 Galibier could be yours for 120,000 Euros, the current price of a 90’s Ferrari. Times have changed as time went by, we never heard again from the owner of the Atalante. Meanwhile, my father’s intention of buying a Bugatti had totally disappeared, especially when he treated himself a new Mercedes CI 500.
This story is both my best one, since I have never been so close to achieving my dream (thanks yo my dad), and at the same time the most disappointing one, since everything ended in nothing… For me it has become a kind of modern version of the lcarus tale, when coming too close to the sun you’ll burn you wings and then have to return to earth.
Anyway, it makes for a great memory, and I am really thankful that I have felt at least once in my life the impact of discovering a Bugatti in a barn. Trust me this is a delicious emotion!
This is not the chassis from the story, just a nice example…