by Simon Haldy

The moment had finally come… A friend of mine (thanks Walter) told me some months ago that the International Bugatti meeting was scheduled to take place in Montreux (the Swiss Monte Carlo), where I happen to live. My Bugattist heart was beating like mad and I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas to come.

And last week Santa Claus indeed delivered my presents, many months before his anniversary: more than 40 Molsheim born jewels arrived in my hometown. What a beautiful uproar, all these marvels driving towards me one after the other… it was truly phenomenal! I couldn’t believe my eyes and my ears, all these Bugattis together played the most incredible melody and a delightful fragrance made of oil and gas created a unique ambiance.

In the end all the cars were parked by the water-front of Lake Geneva. Seeing all these pieces of art, perfectly shaped in aluminum, with the dramatic blue lake as a backdrop, was such a beautiful  sight that I almost felt it was too good to be true. It took me a little while to come to my senses and I realized that I wasn’t dreaming. I had entered the Bugatti heaven.

Tens of Grand Prix type cars such as Type 35 and 37 and two wonderful type 51 GP’s in great patinated condition and at least six type 43 Grand Sport, were lined up in front of me, as well as numerous other marvels such as dozens of type 23, 30, 38 and 40.

Several magnificent type 57 were also taking part in this rally. One of this 57 was strangely bodied as a saloon by an English coachbuilder, I guess. A very elegant Graber bodied DHC finished in black drew my attention. Its proportions were so elegant and sporty at the same time. This 30’s car was looking 10 years ahead of its time and reminded me of some of Farina’s or Touring’s late 40’s creations.

To my taste the most elegant 57 present was a drophead bodied by Letourneur et Marchand, a fabulous 57C Aravis. The car was finished in a beige and chocolate color scheme and the general shape of it, with its long tail, was really gorgeous. For the record, a twin sister of this cabriolet had been ordered new by Maurice Chevalier, the famous French singer. Another Swiss coachbuilt Type 57 cabriolet and a late series works Stelvio were also present.

As I walked amongst the cars, I saw the Holy Grail of any true Bugattist: a Type 59. A wonderful example in perfect condition. A funny fact is that the owner had been busy to paint yellow stars on his car to show his disgust with the Brexit. We started to talk about the Brexit when, naturally, the discussion moved in the direction of his legendary car. The owner of the car, a man from Scotland, had come by road from the north of France to Switzerland. He showed me every detail of his amazing car. He even removed the bonnet to show me the sculpture that was lay under the bonnet, and he removed the seats to show me the gearbox and rear axle (you can see every detail in the photos). Many thanks to this true Bugatti gentleman.

A bit further a man, who had come from Luxembourg with his early type 35, was removing the spark plugs from his engine; they were really dirty and the owner told me that there were definitely too many traffic lights and too much traffic in Switzerland; I agreed with him.

Sadly after a while it was time to say goodbye to all these incredible machines coming from all over the world. Owners were looking forward to go back to their hotel rooms for a deserved rest. The Bugattis left one after the other and it was a fantastic show, seeing all those Prima Donna’s blasting past, just like in the 1920s and 1930s.


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