Gabriel Duhoux confirmed as the first owner of La Voiture Noire

No, I don’t have any detailed information about the owner of the modern black Bugatti which was shown in March 2019 in Geneva. I’m just talking about the most valuable car in the automotive history. We call her “La Voiture Noire” but we should get used to some more names like the Belg. Coupé or … the Blue Bugatti. Yes, I know that “La Voiture Noire” means “The Black Car”. Actually, this incompatibility of colours caused me to stay silent about my research until now.

In October 2019 I was in Brussels to talk with a family member of Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts. Mrs. Goyvaerts was the wife of Mr. Gabriel Duhoux. Her relative, a very kind lady born in the late 1930s, told me that she remembered a blue car that was damaged by a young soldier who stole it in 1946.
Before the meeting I had communicated with the family via email. Therefore, I remembered that the lady had stated the damaged vehicle was very similar to the rebuild of the 57473 Atlantic. During the meeting the Lady said that Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts had disliked the car. Mr. Duhoux’s wife considered the resemblance between the grille shape and a horseshoe hung upside down as a sign of bad luck. It’s not only superstition that made her affraid. Mr. Duhoux drove really fast.

“The Bugatti Type 57S: Evolution, Prototypes, Racing Cars, Production” book written by Mr. Bernhard Simon and Mr. Julius Kruta mentions him “a pilot in Belgium”. However, the kind lady said that he was not an aviator. The authors might have seen a document indicating that the Bugatti staff treated Mr. Duhoux as a racer.

Although his primary profession was architecture, he did race. He participated in the Monte Carlo Rally (at least twice:
https://www.ewrc-results.com/profile/139696-g-duhoux/)
and in the Liège-Rome-Liège road rally-race, nicknamed “Le Marathon de la route” (https://www.ewrc-results.com/entries/43613-liege-rome-liege-1933/). Moreover, he crossed Sahara with a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley.

I hope to learn much more, because Mr. Duhoux really deserves it.

However, I owe my readers an explanation why I think that Mr. Duhoux’s ownership of the second Bugatti Aéro Coupé/Atlantic (the one built as “the 57453”) has been confirmed. And I also owe a big “Thank you” to Mr. Ante Furač who told me about a very interesting mention in the “Bugatti Yesterday and Today: The Atlantic and other articles” book by Mr. Lester G. Matthews. On page 37 there is a paragraph about chassis 57454. The author quotes suggestions that the chassis was “used in an Atlantic sold to a Belgian named Du Houx of Brussles, color Bugatti blue”. Before the meeting I exchanged some mails with Mrs. Goyvaerts’ family. Here is an excerpt, which may also explain why Mr. Duhoux took the 57562 to the Concours d’Elegance

So, two independent sources- the factory workers interviewed by Mr. Matthews and a person related to Mr. Duhoux inform about the same thing:
Mr. Duhoux owned a blue Atlantic. Mentions about the Belg. Coupé having the “2S” engine, later upgraded to 2SC, lead to the conclusion that the blue Atlantic was a repainted La Voiture Noire.

There are just two big questions:

Do we know more about the showroom where the car was put?

My answer: I’m doing my best to learn more. I will keep you updated.


What about the mail from the notary?

My answer: There are two scenarios. The optimistic and the pessimistic one.
The optimistic scenario is that the information given by the notary had also come from the heirs of Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts . They were aware that the car had disappeared, but they didn’t know how it had happened. So they assumed that it was sold during Mr. Duhoux’s illness.
The pessimistic scenario is that the lawyer (whose name I have to protect) was both the notary of Mrs. Goyvaerts and the notary of someone else, who had sold the car.

Andrzej Szczodrak

Special thanks

to the Lady and to her Daughter,

to Ante Furač for a very interesting mail about Mr. Matthews’ book,

to Yann Sadier and François Granet for caring about the meaning of The 57453 in the French automotive culture

to Stephan Sturges for answering my questions about Brussels,

to Jeroen Vossen for great books

to Uwe Zummach for all the support

The 57453 destroyed in Bordeaux? Forget that fiction

Almost every Bugatti enthusiast knew that the last known trace of the lost Aéro Coupé was the list of the “automotive goods” (“Materiel Automobile”) dated 18th February 1941. The document refers to the Bordeaux storage (therefore I call it “The Bordeaux List”), but the actual meaning of its date has been a subject to various hypotheses. Mr. Pierre Yves Laugier’s statements are a bit ambiguous. This ambiguity should not be considered as a fault of the great historian, who has proven the existence of the fourth Atlantic. It just means that Mr. Laugier doesn’t confuse hypotheses with facts. That is why he writes about “trace lost in 1941 in Bordeaux” where La Voiture Noire “appears on a list of automotive goods sent [not “delivered”, but “sent”- note by A.S.] from Molsheim to the Bugatti works on boulevard Alfred-Daney, Bordeaux”. Bordeaux is the last place associated with the Black Aéro but no official proof is known that the car really got there.

Therefore, Mr. Laugier’s statements are being read both ways. Some believe that “the 57453” (well, at that time it was 57454) actually got to Bordeaux
(I have seen a comment claiming that a proof of this exists- https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2019/02/26/the-114-million-barn-find-that-has-yet-to-be-found#comment-10624250) where it was probably destroyed. Others say that it has never reached this destination.

There is a very interesting comment under the Hemmings’ article about the Black Aéro. “FA_92″ (https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2019/02/26/the-114-million-barn-find-that-has-yet-to-be-found#comment-10658963) states that according to his or her sources “the actual relocation of the Bugatti (machinery and the cars belonging to the factory) occured between the official onset of WW2, 3. September 1939. and January 1940” and that the information may “be found in French Ministry of Air war records” from that time. Then the mentioned user says that “The part of the Bordeaux, where the storage was located, was also bombed by RAF of Britain, by the end of 1940.
So, anything that was shipped to Bordeaux after that date or later in 1941. would be a very confusing and irational decision. Maybe the document counts the cars kept in storage, that have survived the bombing and looting… “
. Many sources mention such bombing. However, there are reasons to believe that it’s a repeated mistake (like “rue Alfred Danat” instead of “boulevard Alfred Daney”) and the damaged factory was actually the one in Molsheim (on the other hand, this site: http://www.ajpn.org/commune-Molsheim-en-1939-1945-67300.html?fbclid=IwAR1HnPEAuFzZIDkpVfyMexHCdTmvjEKV8gJPF72ljdldZm8OHKY4sJI2WIM contains no info about a bombing in 1940). Now is a time for one more “thank you” to Uwe Zummach who informed me about a photo of damaged works. The photo shows a signboard with the inscription “Trippelwerke”. This points at Molsheim. Therefore, I contacted the Municipal Archives in Bordeaux, getting the following response:

So, the workshop is not mentioned on the lists of buildings damaged during the World War II. A fun fact is that I received the message on the 83rd birthday of La Voiture Noire, on 3rd of October 2019. I shared it with several people and planned a bigger article about the case. Then, I received some more information. I fully understood it just recently, thanks to Mr. Ante Furač. The answer from Bordeaux is only a prelude to the news which I will share in the next entry about the most famous “lost” car in the world.

Andrzej Szczodrak