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The Incredible Story of the Bugatti in the Lake

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According to legend, French race car driver René Dreyfus (winner of the Monaco Grand Prix in 1930) was in a liquor-fueled game of poker with Swiss playboy Adalbert Bodé in Paris in 1934. Short on cash, Dreyfus bet his 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia race car and lost it to Bodé. Shortly thereafter, it found its way to the bottom of a lake, where it stayed for the rest of the century.

When Bodé returned to Switzerland, he was stopped at the border and told that he could not take the car with him. As gambler’s fortunes tend to wax and wane, Bodé was notable to get the cash together to get the car out of customs, and it was marked for destruction like any other confiscated contraband. Being a different time, Swiss authorities decided the easiest, if not the most ecologically friendly, method of disposal would be to dump it into the Lago Maggiore.

There the masterpiece of French design sat until 2009, when it was finally recovered. Though many people knew the car was somewhere in the lake, no one had yet committed to bringing it up. Unfortunately, its reemergence was brought on by tragedy when a member of the local salvage diving club was beaten to death by three young people in a street attack. In an effort to raise money for a charity dedicated to preventing youth violence, the club committed to bringing up the car.

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