06 January 2009

Barn dance

Ultra-rare, £3m Bugatti found in locked Tyneside garage. Happy new year, Geordies

Bugatti Type 57S Atlante

Under ‘really good ways of cheering up what seemed likely to be quite a financially tricky year’, this one ranks pretty highly: opening up your deceased grandfather’s long-locked barn and finding… an ultra-rare, £3 million pre-war Bugatti.

We love a good barn find here at Top Gear, and this is one of the best ever: a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atlante coupe. With just 26,000 miles on the clock.

Now, we know there have been plenty of reports in the media of second-hand cars losing their value on resale, but we reckon this one might be immune from that, what with it being one of only 17 ever built.

Originally owned by Earl Howe, the first president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, the supercharged Atlante was found by relatives of reclusive Newcastle doctor Harold Carr (though surely the name should have given them a clue) when they opened his garage after his death.

It had been parked up since 1960, and is in good condition. “Although she requires restoration, it is “restoration” in the true sense of the word,” says James Knight of Bonhams, who will auction the car in February. “All original parts can be restored or conserved in order to maintain originality.”

So who’s keen? If we all chip in a fiver, surely we can afford the Bug as a Top Gear collective? Obviously it’ll have to stay with us, but we’ll let you, er, look at it and stuff. Maybe.

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