by CHB’s mystery correspondent
This was the title of a most entertaining series of articles published in the very thin and poorly printed, as well as poorly illustrated, Dutch magazine Motor during WW2.The Dutch language version of the title was much better, i.e. “Met z’n twee naar Zell am See”, with See rhyming with twee.
The series related the story of two Dutch motorcycle friends who, shortly before war broke out, had made a holiday trip on their motorcycles to Zell am See in Austria. Zell am See is located in the Salzburgerland, about halfway between Salzburg and Innsbruck.
In the early seventies I was living in a student’s house on a canal in the center of the old city of Delft and I clearly remember the day when one of my housemates brought home a small pile of De Motor magazines that had been given to him by an uncle. Of course I had to take a look and I was stupefied by a small picture, showing the two motorcycle friends in the company of a smashing Bugatti T57S roadster.
Here is a piece of their story: on their mountain journey in the Alps they met by chance with the Prince of Liechtenstein, who was driving a most spectacular Bugatti T57S with all enveloping front wings which turned with the front wheels. The Prince was accompanied by his aide-de-camp, or ADC, Mr. Seppl, who followed the Prince on a Nimbus motorcycle. The encounter with the Prince was so pleasant that he invited the two friends from Holland to visit him at his castle in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. One of the accompanying pictures, signed by the sovereign, showed the Prince in the company with his charming spouse in front of their castle. It was given by him as a memento upon the departure of the two friends.
This T57S was so unique, so beautiful, that it was simply crying out to be further investigated, even though, in the meantime, the world had moved on some thirty years. So the bold decision was taken to attempt to write to the Prince of Liechtenstein. Knowing that there was a photo in Hugh Conway’s Bugatti ‘bible’ “Le pur-sang des automobiles” of two princesses of Liechtenstein in their T55 roadster (55222), there could be a fair chance that the Prince had owned this T57S in later years.
These were the years long before internet (it was in 1973) and so, in order to find an address, a visit was paid to the embassy of Switzerland in The Hague, where the address was acquired. A letter was duly written, addressed to the Kabinettskanzlei seiner Durchlaucht des Regierenden Fursten von Liechtenstein, Schloss Vaduz in Liechtenstein. Then the usual long period of waiting started. After three months, still no answer. Another letter to HH… and, yes, bingo, here was an answer!
I had been mistaken, I was told by the Kabinettsdirektor of His Serene Highness Prince Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein. As a matter of fact he had not been the owner of this T57S, but instead I should write to HSH Prince Alfred von Liechtenstein, who lived near Graz in south-eastern Austria and his address was joined. Another letter was duly sent off and another period of anxious waiting started. After three months…. still no answer. OK, one more letter then and if still no answer then I give up. No answer followed and indeed I gave up my quest to find a trace of this unique T57S roadster.
About a year later I was with the jolly group of Bugatti friends who I have already mentioned in my article titled “The incredible unknown Atalante barn find”. A new member who I had not met before was there and he told me… Soon more!