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Rare Bugatti Atalante unearthed

2009-01-02 11:07

An rare Bugatti supercar left to gather dust in an English garage for half a century could fetch millions when it goes under the hammer next month, a report said Thursday.

Experts believe the car - one of just a handful ever made - could fetch as much as six million pounds (R82.8m) when it is auctioned at the Retromobile car show and sale being organised by Bonhams in Paris in February.

Harold Carr, a surgeon, apparently abandoned the rare Bugatti in his lock-up in northeastern Newcastle after buying it in the 1950s.

When the reclusive Carr died in 2007, his nephew found the Type 57S Atalante when he cleared out the garage and was amazed to learn that just 17 of the model were ever made.

His nephew, an engineer from Newcastle who wishes to remain anonymous, told the city's Evening Chronicle newspaper: "We just can't
believe it.

"It's worth so much because he hasn't used it for 50 years. It was one of the original supercars. When it was built it could reach 130 miles (210 kilometres) per hour when most cars could only do 50.

"Of course we're delighted and we're going to make sure the money is shared out among the family. It's a wonderful thing to leave."

The Bugatti 57S was originally owned by British aristocrat and racing enthusiast Earl Howe, who was the first president of the British Racing Drivers' Club.

He took delivery of the sporty two-seater Atalante in 1937 and kept the car for eight years.

After it changed hands several times, Carr bought it in 1955, and drove it for a few years before parking it in the garage in the early 1960s where it remained until his death.

James Knight, international head of Bonhams' motoring department, said: "I have known of this Bugatti for a number of years and, like a select group of others, hadn't dared divulge its whereabouts to anyone.

"It is absolutely one of the last great barn discoveries... The Atalante is incredibly original and, although she requires restoration, it is 'restoration' in the true sense of the word.

"From my perspective, save for some of the interior, all original parts can be restored or conserved in order to maintain originality."

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