1923 Bugatti Type 23 " Brescia " cabriolet Michel Bigatti For Sale by AuctionSwedish title
Chassis n° 2615
Engine n° 1013
- Transparent history
- Original configuration
- Unique coachwork
Chassis 2615, equipped with engine 1013, was delivered to the Bugatti dealer in Nice, Ernest Friderich, on 5 August 1925 with three other chassis: 2613, 2614 and 2616. From there they were sent to local coachbuilders. 2615 headed to the Michel Bigatti (!) workshop in Nice. The Bigatti offices were at 7, Rue Cais-de-Pierlas in a superb late 19th century building and the factory was sited at two other addresses: in a parallel street, at 7bis rue Barla, and rue Scaliero. Michel Bigatti was a board member for the Nice Motor Show syndicate. His company had a stand at the Show which took place in January. There is a fantastic photograph of this coachbuilder's workshop showing another Bugatti Type 23 (chassis 2420), delivered to Louis Chiron in February 1925, having its bodywork painted.
Our Brescia was given a pretty cabriolet body in leatherette, considerably lighter than steel. The car was registered new on 18 November 1925 in the name of Christian Dietz, in Sainte Maxime, with the number 3719 M 6. This is the only French registration the car has had. Christian Dietz was one of the oldest garage owners in the town. In 1925, the directory for automobile professionals listed : " Auto Garage Dietz, Tél: 7 à Sainte Maxime ". He had built, before 1918, the beautiful " Villa La Pergola " at 83, boulevard Berthie Albrecht. The town census states that in 1921, Christian Dietz, French, born in Brussels in 1900 or 1901, garage owner, lived at 10 Boulevard du Littoral. In 1926, he was listed at 275 Boulevard de la Croisette, with his wife Aimée Dietz, born in Cavaillon in 1906. Dietz appeared to have a strong interest in Molsheim productions, as there were several other Bugatti registered in the name of the Garage Dietz after 1925: a Type 40 in the spring of 1927, a Type 35A in 1928, a new Type 38 in October 1929, a second-hand competition Type 35 at the start of 1931 and finally a Type 44 in 1932.
On 4 July 1927, the vehicle was registered in Nice, with the same number, in the name of Paul Hust.
It appears that Hust, an English-sounding name, with an address in a street full of hotels, bought the Bugatti simply to use while he was on vacation in Nice. He drove it during the summer of 1927 and sold it to Paul Kohler on 3 September 1927. Kohler was the finance director of the " Riviera Palace Hotel " in Nice. This hotel, situated halfway up the Boulevard de Cimiez, was built in 1889, in the grounds of a one-hectare park, by Compagnie Internationale des wagons-Lits. Kohler's role, in this immense palace, no doubt brought him into contact with the previous owner, enabling him to buy the two-year old Bugatti from him. The Riviera Palace Hotel later merged with the " Hôtel Moderne " at 8 place la République in Paris XI, and there is still a small brass plaque with Kohler's name at this address on the dashboard. A second brass plaque is engraved with the name " Poupette ".
It seems that Kohler was the last owner before the car was hidden away during the war. The Bugatti was discovered at the start of the 1960s by Jacques Vincent from Vidauban.
It doesn't appear in the Bugatti Register published by H. G. Conway in 1962, so was probably found after this date.
Jacques Vincent set up an automobile scrap yard around 1960. A lover of beautiful cars, he built several hangars to store the ones he felt were worth saving. The well-known classic car hunters, including Jean-Louis Dumontant and André Binda, soon discovered this address. Antoine Raffaeli, who had offered his services, remembers that around forty old cars were stored at his property by the side of the RN7, with several parked out in the field and used to pull the barge ! And so, in 1966, travelling through the Midi with a friend in his Alfa Romeo Spider, the Australian collector Bob King came across the site, having noticed a post-war Bentley with a French body by the side of the RN7 ! He spotted in the hangars two Type 44 Bugatti and the Brescia.
The Swedish collector Olof Godin, who lived in France at the time, finally acquired the car in 1968, still with its 1925 registration, in strictly original condition with light yellow coachwork, red wings and red leatherette interior. Photos taken by Raffaelli in front of Vincent's villa show the car looking complete, missing only its bonnet and windshield. It is possible to read the coachbuilder's plaque " Etablissements Michel Bigatti, 9 rue Cais- de- Pierlas Nice ", still present on the car.
Godin kept the car in this condition for thirty years. In 1974, during a trip to Stockholm, Bob King saw the car again in a museum, unaware of where the car had gone after Vidauban. There are photos in the file confirming that Godin only started the restoration in 1994. On 25 May 1996 the block was installed, the engine assembled on 8 June 1996 and started on 10 June, probably for the first time since the war. On 14 June the coachwork was fitted and the car took part in the International Rally in Denmark on 18 June 1996, missing only its windshield, which was made in 2000.
The car presented in the sale is a gem.
In all likelihood, " Poupette " remained with Paul Kohler from 1927 until the end of the 1950s, and was then saved by Vincent and taken on by Olof Godin who devoted all his energy to restoring the car to its former glory.
Its unique cabriolet body by Michel Bigatti from Nice has a holiday feel, suggesting a trip to the Riviera and a return to the Roaring Twenties. Go for it, the Riviera Palace probably still has apartments for sale with parking spaces.
For Artcurial December 2018
Today, the car is presented in good working order, as we have been able to verify on Swedish roads. It is in strictly original condition, and still has its original 16-valve engine and gearbox, as well as the original coachwork by Michel Bigatti. Exceptionally, the superb red leatherette upholstery is also original, as is the lovely dashboard, complete with all its instruments. With transparent and documented history, " Poupette " offers an amazing opportunity to buy a genuine Bugatti Brescia, with an excellent performance for its day, thanks to the outstanding 16-valve engine and lightweight body.
Photos © Dejan Sokolovski
Estimation 280 000 - 450 000 €