FROM BIEN HOA TO BALD MOUNTAIN – PART 4

Other gear came in from Bart Loyens, the Amsterdam stockist, including a correct steering wheel and the lovely Marchal headlamps. “New” brake drums came variously from a friend in Massachusetts and another in Colorado. The latter wouldn’t release his pair until I had arranged for another set for his car to be shipped from England. All this took a bit of doing, but it was fun, also.

The main problem now was that the Bugatti never seemed to get finished, so I finally persuaded Russ Sceli to take it on as one of his projects for 1971. In the fifties, Russ had operated one of the first foreign car dealer-ships in Hartford, and had restored several Bugattis of his own before retiring to the quiet of his hilltop retreat in Canton, Connecticut. Here, he would take on one car at a time in his meticulous garage–! was glad to have the T-40 in his care. Russ took everything apart, and… Continue reading

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In Piazzo san Marco, with a happy driver

 

 

FROM BIEN HOA TO BALD MOUNTAIN – PART 3

While the Jean Comte crew were working away on the body proper, I busied myself trying to learn what a correct T-40 Bugatti really looked like, what sort of instruments were needed, and a million other essential details. Letters went out to various information sources in England and America, and bit by bit some information came back. A brand new Rene Thomas steering wheel turned up in a local Chinese general store; the Jean Comte machine shop was making up carefully copied parts from unsalvageable originals; and when I heard there was a group of vintage enthusiasts in Singapore, I hied myself down there for a look. It was great fun, and I met some wonderful people who were enormously helpful. I even found two Bugattis in my prowling, but they were the property of a terribly keen Chinese race driver and, at that time, were not for sale􀀕 This man’s house was crammed from floor to ceiling with the most amazing collection of parts I had ever seen, and before leaving… Continue reading

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In Saigon, after the restoration

FROM BIEN HOA TO BALD MOUNTAIN – PART 1

Stopping my Bugatti in a public place these days frequently brings forth the awful probe, “what’s it worth?” I never know quite how to reply, and usually try to duck the question. It’s not because I’m particularly shy; rather, I am ever appalled by what the traders and general inflation have done to vintage car values. You see, it gives me no real pleasure to know that my car is supposed to be too valuable to use on public roads, run in competitive events, or be parked in front of the IGA–all of which I very much like to do. I prefer to remember that I got the Bugatti for $150, and this is the story of how that came to pass.

In 1956 I was assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon, which, during my tour of duty there, was a pleasant and peaceful city. Soon after my arrival, I met David Mize. David had preceded me by about a year, during which he had managed to find not one but two Bugattis… Continue reading

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As found on a side street in Vietnam

 

BUGATTI IN A BARN – ARE THEY STILL LANGUISHING OUT THERE?

Three months after I was born, I probably missed out on my only chance ever to buy a barnfind Bugatti. At least Sotheby’s thought so, when they took this beautiful T57 Atalante to auction in 1987. The auction catalogue literally said: ‘This must surely be one of the last Bugatti barn discoveries’. Boy, were they wrong! And every time a new Bugatti… Continue reading

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