1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709
Lot 249N
1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo
Coachwork by Lavocat et Marsaud
£550,000 - 650,000
US$ 740,000 - 870,000

Lot Details
1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709 1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo  Chassis no. 1709
1923 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Modifié Torpedo
Coachwork by Lavocat et Marsaud

Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. 1709
*One of circa 200 Brescia Modifié chassis produced in 1923
*Exceptionally original and well documented
*Matching chassis, engine, and body
*Restored to the highest standard in 2009/2010
*Winner of the Pebble Beach Chairman's Award (2011)
*Constantly maintained

Footnotes

  • '...this is a highly original car in all details with an unusually well documented history. Its Lavocat & Marsaud coachwork is elegant, sporting and totally appropriate for this sports chassis. In its manner of going, it is clearly as mechanically sound as its appearance would suggest.' – Bob King, author: 'The Brescia Bugatti'.

    By the early 1930s Ettore Bugatti had established an unrivalled reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on road or track; the world's greatest racing drivers enjoying countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory's products and often choosing them for their everyday transport. Developed from the first Bugatti to be built at Molsheim - the short-wheelbase Type 13 of 1910 - the Type 13 'Brescia' took that name following the factory's first four places at the 1921 Italian Grand Prix for Voiturettes, held at the eponymous racetrack in Lombardy. Longer wheelbase Type 22 and Type 23 models were made, both of which used the single-overhead-camshaft 16-valve Brescia engine and were built alongside 8-valve 'Petit Pur Sang' versions.

    Introduced in February 1923, the Brescia Modifié was a true thoroughbred sports car, derived directly from the racing Brescias that had dominated the voiturette category at the 1921 Italian GP. At a time when many 1½-litre production cars struggled to achieve 50mph, the Brescia Modifié was guaranteed to exceed 70mph. Of advanced design, the engine incorporated a ball-bearing crankshaft and aluminum crankcase, and was coupled to an excellent four-speed gearbox developed from that of the Brescia racers; indeed, many Brescia Modifiés were raced with great success.

    Bugatti produced approximately 200 Brescia Modifié chassis in 1923, virtually all of them Types 22 and 23. According to Bob King's authoritative book, 'The Brescia Bugatti', 19 of them are known to survive. Of these, around half have been shortened to the popular Type 13 configuration, and most of the rest have lost their original engine and/or body over the years. Thus '1709', with its original engine and original Lavocat et Marsaud coachwork, is rare indeed. In total, some 2,000-or-so Brescias were built between 1914 and 1926 with engine capacities of 1,368, 1,453 and 1,496cc.

    Unlike the vast majority of the 16-valve Brescia Bugattis produced, '1709' is well documented from 17th July 1923, when assembly of its chassis commenced, through to the present day. Fitted with 1,496cc engine number '137', this early example of the 'Brescia Modifié' was delivered in chassis form to Bugatti's Paris agency on 7th August 1923. With the exception of those made for their racing cars, Bugatti did not produce bodies until 1927, so all earlier touring models such as this Type 23 were supplied in chassis form.

    This particular chassis was bought by André Buot of Azay le Rideau, a town near the mouth of the River Indre about 11 miles south-west of Tours on the River Loire. Monsieur Buot elected to have his car fitted with a staggered two-seater torpedo body built by Lavocat et Marsaud of Boulogne-sur-Seine, Paris, this no doubt arranged on his behalf by Bugatti's Paris agency. During the 1920s, Lavocat et Marsaud specialised in lightweight sporting bodies, and surely fitted more coachwork to chassis supplied by Bugatti's Paris agency than did any of their many Parisian competitors. Elegant and racy, the body fitted to '1709' was ahead of its time.

    The completed car was registered in Buot's name on 29th August 1923. Remarkably, Michel Berthelot, a more recent owner, managed to contact André Buot in early 1993, and the old man well remembered the car he had bought new 70 years previously. Berthelot then wrote to him in the hope of obtaining more information, in particular some period photographs of the car. His letter was written on 24th March but unfortunately Buot had passed away on 6th March, his executor informing Berthelot by letter dated 2nd April. So, sadly, the opportunity of gaining the desired information directly from Buot was lost for all time.

    The Bugatti's second owner was René Jack of Montrichard, a town on the River Cher around 24 miles east of Tours, so the car remained in the same locality. It was registered in Jack's name on 4th October 1929 but remained in his possession for less than a year, after which it passed to Marcel Salzard of Blois, a town 20 miles from its previous home in Montrichard. The car was registered in Salzard's name on 7th August 1930.

    The following year, the Bugatti was sold to Maurice Boucher of Bourges, capital of the Cher département. '1709' next passed to 31-year-old Marcel Apied, also of Bourges, so it kept its existing registration number, which was transferred to him on 8th November 1934. The car was destined to remain in the Apied family for a further 36 years.

    Apied had no son or direct heir to his estate but his brother Paul had two sons, Daniel and Jean-Paul, who became his heir. Both stepbrothers have been able to provide valuable information about the car. Their memories from the mid-1950s, when they were schoolboys, agreed in all respects bar one, Daniel recalling that the car's wings were as they are to his day while Jean-Paul, thought that they were more rounded. Otherwise they agreed over the basic details of the coachwork: that it was a staggered two-seater with a pointed tail, and that it was dark blue in colour.

    On being shown photographs of the Bugatti taken in the 1970s, when it was pale blue with dark blue wings, they agreed that it was no longer in the colour they both remembered, so it must have been repainted by its next owner, car-collector Roger Louis Nachtigall of Raincy, near Paris, to whom their uncle had sold the car on 12th November 1970.

    Evidence about the car's condition prior to its sale to Nachtigall has recently been provided by François Morin, who at the time was President of the Retromobile Club of Berry, the village of Berry-Bouy. It appeared to be in poor condition with damaged paintwork, and had been unused for a long time.

    During Mr Nachtigall's ownership, the Bugatti was restored to running order, and in 1984 it featured prominently in the film 'Mistral's Daughter', based on the novel by Judith Krantz and starring, among others, Stephanie Powers, Lee Remick, and Stacy Keach. Following Nachtigall's death, his second wife Jeanne disposed of the car on 13th January 1991 to the aforementioned Michel Berthelot of Gournay en Bray in northern France. He treated the car to a further restoration during 1993.

    The present owner purchased the Bugatti from Michel Berthelot on 1st July 2009 and registered it in his name in Italy. He then had the car restored to the highest standard, the work being carried out during 2009/2010, since when '1709' has been displayed at Pebble Beach, receiving the Chairman's Award in 2011, and in 2012 won the Louis Vuitton Serenissima Run. The car also participated in the 2010 and 2011 International Bugatti Rallies held in, respectively, California and Spain, where it performed superbly and was inspected by several leading Bugatti authorities. It has also taken part in the Bugatti International meeting in Kyoto, Japan and 'La Festa Mille Miglia' Bugatti meeting in Japan, both in 2015. It is worthwhile noting that the car is currently running on twin-spark magneto ignition, and that an alternative coil ignition system is available.

    The owner has conducted impressively comprehensive researches, and a file of relevant documentation comes with the car. This file contains a typically thorough account of the car's history compiled by Bugatti historian and Brescia enthusiast, David Sewell; an assessment by Nathanael B Greene, Jnr, International Representative, American Bugatti Club; and a further important appraisal (dating from the late 1960s) written by M Morin, president of the Rétromobile Club of Berry. The car also has a FIVA Identity Card and ASI 'Gold Plate'.

    Overall, this is a remarkably well preserved example of an early Bugatti Brescia Modifié, very few of which have survived to the present day. It has a fine provenance, retaining as it does its original chassis frame, chassis plate, engine, and bodywork together (it is believed) with all its other major components. Furthermore, its mechanical condition has been shown to be excellent. A wonderful opportunity to acquire a well known and equally well documented Brescia of quite exceptional quality.
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