Gabriel Duhoux- a short biography

Gabriel Duhoux
Gabriel Duhoux

Mr. Gabriel Guillaume Duhoux was born on the 29th of May 1897 in Saint-Gilles (a municipality in Brussels-Capital Region). He was a son of Mr. Hilaire Louis Duhoux from Braine-l’Alleud ( and Mrs. Emma Flore Dewaet from Brussels. The couple had married on the 28th of January 1896 in Wauthier-Braine. It is still not verified if Mr. Duhoux’s mother was a relative of Mr. Dewaet who bought a Stoewer license and, during the years 1934-1935, built several Stettin-designed cars in Brussels.

Mr. Gabriel Duhoux was a member of a well known family of builders, architects and entrepreneurs strongly linked to Braine-l’Alleud ( He had a brother whose names were Pierre Joseph Norbert (born on the 7th of April 1896). The word “Norbert” appears on the third position on the birth certificate, but it is underlined. There are some sources showing that Mr. Gabriel’s brother tended to use it as his first name. For example, he is listed as Norbert, alongside his brother Gabriel, in a press note about a cross country run organized by the Commission Centrale de L’Athlétisme de l’Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques on the 24th of December 1911 ( the Duhoux brothers were 14 and 15 years old at that time.
Messrs. Gabriel and Norbert had a sister named Hélène Léocadie (born on the 15th of February 1900).

Mr. Gabriel was an architect and an entrepreneur. The site called “” contains a mention about his architectural heritage ( There is also a record about a building designed by Mr. Gabriel’s brother, Mr. Norbert ( Mr. Gabriel’s grandfather, Mr. Pierre Joseph seems to have been the first person from the Duhoux family who started investing in that field (, ). Nevertheless, it is the father of Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Norbert, Mr. Hilaire Louis whose activity in the domain of real estate in Brussels-Capital Region is the most documented ( ).

Shortly after the death of their father (09.06.1929 in Uccle), in the early 1930s, the Duhoux brothers (Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Norbert) created two automotive showroom companies (such showroom is called “garage” in French). The first enterprise, which belonged solely to Mr. Gabriel, was named “Red Star”. It had two showrooms- at 100-102, Chaussée d’Alsemberg and at 150, Rue Josaphat (,

The other company, called Garage Métro, located at 305-307 Chaussée d’Alsemberg, was reportedly created by Mr. Norbert Duhoux ( ). However, it was very close to Mr. Gabriel’s home at 47, Rue Cervantès (,+Forest,+Belgia/Chauss%C3%A9e+d’Alsemberg+305,+Forest,+Belgia/@50.817622,4.337032,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x47c3c4457705be6b:0x6155fb1cc1932212!2m2!1d4.3385522!2d50.8179737!1m5!1m1!1s0x47c3c44558bc9687:0xa84c93c61c830dad!2m2!1d4.3402364!2d50.8171639!3e0?entry=ttu ). According to my sources, Mr. René Dupont who was the manager of the Garage Métro from 1936 to 1948 was Mr. Gabriel’s friend.

Mr. Gabriel Duhoux seems to be a bit forgotten in the automotive world, but he participated in some important events. He finished 18. in 1932 Monte Carlo Rally ( ). Year later, he started from Athens ( ). It seems that he did not finish that rally. In 1933 and 1934 he took part in the Liège-Rome-Liège Road Marathon (, In 1933 he finished 4th ( The result is described as a “place of honor” in a newspaper article covering the Brondeel expedition.

From the 17th of January 1934 to 9th of May 1934 Mr. Gabriel Duhoux was involved in a Trans-Saharan journey from Brussels to Kitega in Kongo (currently Gitega, Burundi) and back ( The articles covering the start of the event describe Mr. Duhoux as a technician and as a high class driver.
The leader of the expedition was Commandant Louis Brondeel- a war hero, but also an entrepreneur. Mr. Brondeel owned a Dodge dealership in Brussels at 94, rue Joseph II. He was also the president of FEBIAC (Fédération Belge de l’Indsutrie de l’Automobile et du Cycle) and the originator of the Brussels Motor Show. Mr. Duhoux and Mr. Brondeel seem to have been good friends as Mr. Duhoux had been a Dodge driver in the Monte Carlo Rally and in the Liège-Rome-Liège Road Marathon.

The journey to Congo has been documented in several newspapers including “La Nation Belge” (as Paul Neuray, the editorial secretary of “La Nation Belge”, had participated in the expedition). It is also reflected in the award-winning movie entitled “Terres brûlées” ( filmed by two other members of the expedition- Mr. Charles Dekeukeleire and his camera operator Mr. François Rents.

It is not well known who invited Mr. Duhoux into the Bugatti world. He could have been inspired by the winners of the Liège-Rome-Liège Road Marathon. Another inspiration might have come from Mr. Louis Chiron as Mr. Duhoux and Mr. Chiron had both participated in the same edition of the Monte Carlo Rally. The Chiron hypothesis is supported by the fact that Mr. Duhoux chose Mr. Ernest Friderich (a patron of Mr. Chiron) as his Bugatti dealer. On the other hand, Mr. Duhoux had some other links to French Riviera. According to my sources, he had a restaurant in that area.

Among the people who live in the Brussels-Capital Region, Mr. Gabriel Duhoux is known as the founder and the designer of Le Berger Hotel ( The hotel de rendez-vous was built from 1933 to 1935. It was meant for illicit couples, but the ladies of easy virtue could not enter it. Mr. Duhoux designed both the exterior and the interior of the hotel. The monograph entitled “Le Berger : Souvenirs d’une maison de rendez-vous”, written by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard and illustrated with the photos by Mrs. Marie-Françoise Plissart contains a chapter about the founder of the hotel. Mr. Duhoux is described as a very ingenious person who filled Le Berger with a lot of inventions like:

  • a system of pipes delivering drinks orders to the staff,
  • round magnifying glasses placed around the hotel, letting its owner observe its key parts from his office
  • a double lift system protecting the guests from embarrassing meetings.

Having designed Le Berger and expanded it (after buying and demolishing a convent of nuns that neighbored with it), Mr. Duhoux took the job of its head cook. He was very good at it. Despite the character of the hotel, people came there just to eat.

Mr. Duhoux was in a relationship with Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts. A niece of Mrs. Thérèse, Mrs. Denise, who died on the 26th of January 2016, is quoted by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard in the “Le Berger” book. In a conversation between Mrs. Léonard and Mrs. Denise Goyvaerts, Mr. Duhoux is described as “authoritarian”. He was definitely very goal-oriented, but at the same time he remained a free spirited person who showed a great love of life, pursued hobbies like painting and hated to wear a tie.

On the 29th of September 1937 Mr. Gabriel Duhoux took the delivery of his Bugatti 57S Atalante with the chassis number 57562 (the car’s factory date was 28.09.1937) in Ernest Friderich’s agency in Nice. The authors of the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book, Messrs. Bernhard Simon and Julius Kruta point out that the 57562’s color scheme is different from other Type 57S Bugattis. It resembles a color scheme of a Type 57 car. This may suggest that Mr. Duhoux was a demanding customer who wanted to have an impact on the style of his automobiles. It can be considered as one of the hypotheses concerning the origin of the name “Belg. Coupé”.

The 57562 was not the only Bugatti of Mr. Duhoux. There is a factory document, quoted in the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book (page 67), saying that the “Belg. Coupé” with the chassis number 57454 was ordered by Mr. Gabriele (sic!) Duhoux ( ). In the “Bugatti : les 57 Sport” book, Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier clearly identifies the label “Belg. Coupé” as another name of the car with the “2SC” engine i.e. of the 57453/57222/57454 Atlantic known as La Voiture Noire.
There are good reasons to believe that Mr. Duhoux was not only the person who ordered the 57453/57222/57454 Atlantic. He was also, very likely, the one who actually took the delivery of the car.
Le Berger research done by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard (including her talks with Mrs. Denise Goyvaerts) inspired the article in “Humo” ( ).
Although Mrs. Denise Goyvaerts might have not been much aware of car brands (the “Le Berger : Souvenirs d’une maison de rendez-vous” book contains a photo of a Dodge described as Bugatti), the phrase “En Duhoux hád geld, genoeg om in één van zijn Bugatti’s deel te nemen aan de Rally van Monte Carlo” (Mr. Duhoux had much money, enough to participate regularly in the Monte Carlo Rally with one of his Bugattis) strongly suggests that Mr. Duhoux had more than one Bugatti.
The book by Messrs. Bernhard Simon and Julius Kruta contains a story which is attributed to the Holzschuch couple, but which could actually apply to Mr. Duhoux. In the “Chassis No.: 57473” chapter, there is a speculation about the Holzschuchs: “Apparently they returned the car at short notice in 1937 and took another Type 57, although there is no further entry concerning this in the factory reports”. The return of the first car to the factory and the order placed for another type 57S may be what Mr. Duhoux did with the 57453/57222/57454 and the 57562. But it is more than probable that the initial rejection of the Atlantic was not the end of the story.

Jean De Dobbeleer, who bought the 57562 in 1952, was informed that the Atalante had been kept in some hideout. The information sounds very credible as Mr. Duhoux was good at hiding people and things. For example, during the WWII two floors of Le Berger (the first and the second) were at disposition of the officers of the German Army (which took over many hotels in the Brussels-Capital Region). However, Mr. Duhoux had created a hideaway in the cellars beneath the hotel, to keep papers and a few vintage bottles of wine. So, while keeping the members of the occupation forces in his hotel, he used the hideaway to help parachutists and escapees.

Nevertheless, the 57562 story told by Mr. Jean De Dobbeleer in Bugantics vol. 17 No.1 from February 1954 seems to be only partially true. It is hard to believe that the engine was impossible to start in 1945 as in 1946 Mr. Duhoux participated in two Concours d’Élégance with his Bugatti … or Bugattis. The first Concours is well documented. It was held on Sunday, the 26th of May 1946 in Parc de Bruxelles (Parc Royal), organized by the Syndicat d’Initiative de la Ville de Bruxelles with the support from the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium and the newspaper entitled “Le Soir”. There are photos of the 57562 Atalante from that Concours.

Mr. Duhoux’s participation in the second Concours has been announced in “La Meuse” on the 14th of August 1946. The Concours was due to be held the next day in Parc de la Boverie in Liège. It was organized by Royal Automobile Club Liegeois and by La Meuse.

A member of Mr. Duhoux’s life partner’s family claims that the architect drove a blue Bugatti similar to the 57473 Reconstruction/Replica in 1945. The testimony plays well with an excerpt from Lester G. Matthews’ book “Bugatti Yesterday and Today: The Atlantic and Other Articles” which says “It has been suggested that, originally, in 1937, this chassis was used for a tank for the Le Mans race and that it was later used in an Atlantic sold to a Belgian named Du Houx of Brussels, color Bugatti blue”. Therefore, there are two independent sources claiming that La Voiture Noire (the black car) has become blue and that it was delivered to Mr. Duhoux.

It is still more probable that the car brought by Mr. Duhoux to the Liège Concours d’Élégance was the 57562 Atalante, but photos have not been found yet.

According to a French automotive enthusiast, Mr. Duhoux sold the 57562 to Mr. Jean De Dobbeleer through the intermediary of Mr. Charles Henri “Carlos” Hubené (, The question how much did Mr. De Dobbeleer know about Mr. Duhoux has no simple answer. Mr. Duhoux’s life partner’s family keeps a photo of the 57562 from Mr. De Dobbeleer’s era. On the other hand Mr. De Dobbeleer commissioned some Atlantic replicas (the most accurate one was done by Mr. Jean Bats) and none of them seems to be a result of a consultation with Mr. Duhoux. Moreover, Mr. Duhoux has been confused for a pilot in the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book. The mistake may originate from American customers of Mr. De Dobbeleer who misunderstood the French word “pilote” which means “a rally driver”. The family of Mr. Duhoux’s life partner denies his links to aviation.

Ironically, the man taken for a “pilot” could have become a seaman. The “Berger” book by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard contains a nice anecdote told by Mr. Fredy Mertens (the manager of Le Berger): Mr. Duhoux and his friends planned to buy a boat or a ship in order to be able to enter the extraterritorial sea between Ostend and England and express themselves freely, without concerns about the legislation which was being tightened up at that time.

Mr. Duhoux had a pulmonary disease which he tried to cure in Grasse, in the French Riviera. He died on the 29 of December 1958. He bequeathed all his fortune, including 11 houses, multiple terrains and at least one automobile, a blue 1952 Mercedes 220 A cabrio, to Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts (according to the documents the Mercedes was the only car, but it does not rule out the possibility that Mr. Duhoux kept the ownership of the 57453/57222/57454- the Bugatti could have been overlooked as it had been damaged).

According to Mr. Fredy Martens, after the death of Mr. Duhoux, Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts took care of that car as if she waited for a return of her partner. Every year she had the car checked in the Mercedes Europa showroom.

Besides the Bugatti Atalante 57562, the 220 A became another classic car with Mr. Gabriel Duhoux in its owners history which has been acclaimed in the community of the automotive enthusiasts. With the license plate “GFD 012”, owned by Mr. Francois Duhoux (a nephew of Mr. Gabriel), it has been shown during the “Semaine Auto” in Charleroi in 1995.
Although the club article covering that event does not mention Mr. Gabriel as the first owner of the Mercedes, one can not say that the memory about the Belgian architect who loved cars was not kept alive at that time. Till her death in 1998, Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts published a note of remembrance in “Le Soir” every year on the 29th of December.

  • Why am I convinced that Mr. Duhoux ordered the “57453” Atlantic?
  • Because it is well known that the number 57454 was assigned to that car (that is why I call it “the 57453/57222/57454” instead of just using the initial number).
    On the list that has been published in the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book by Messrs. Bernhad Simon and Julius Kruta and posted on the BugattiBuilder forum by “GCL Wales” ( ) the “Belg. Coupé” is the only position which has not been identified as a specific model. The list contains no explicit mention about the Atlantic. Therefore it is logical to assign the Atlantic to that name. It is consistent with a finding made by Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier- the note saying that the “Belg. Coupé” had the 2SC engine.
  • Why am I convinced that Mr. Duhoux actually received the “57453” Atlantic?
  • I am almost sure that The Lady from Mr. Duhoux’s life partner family did not know about the testimony quoted by Mr. Lester G. Matthews (I tend to attribute that testimony to Mr. Noel Domboy who was pretty credible). As the claim made by The Lady and the suggestion quoted by Mr. Matthews are consistent with each other and inconsistent with the legend of “La Voiture Noire”, they seem to tell the truth about the post-war fate of the Atlantic.

Andrzej Szczodrak

Three Atlantics? Four Atlantics! What if it’s not that simple?

An Atlantic replica shown in Katowice

The answer for the question “How many Bugatti Atlantics left the factory?” is rather clear. “Bugatti produced four such cars. And there is a strong reason to believe that all of them found buyers” (

However, if we pose a less precise question, i.e. “How many Bugatti Atlantics there were?”, things may become really complicated.

At first, I should answer another question: “Does the Bugatti teaser campaign announce the finding of the 57453/57222/57454”. My reply is “I don’t believe so. It suggests that the car never got to Bordeaux, contrary to the knowledge presented by historians and confirmed by an eyewitness testimony provided by Mr. Jean Paul Brassler”.

The 57453/57222/57454- “the fourth” (or rather “the second”, in the order of production) Atlantic rose to fame thanks to Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier. Before his magnificent work was published in 2004, most of Bugattists had believed that there were just three Atlantics and that „La Voiture Noire” was a factory name of the Holzschuch car- the 57473. “The Bugatti Type 57S” book by Mr. Bernhard Simon and Mr. Julius Kruta, which was published in 2003, also separates the 57453/57222/57454 from the 57473, but it was Mr. Laugier’s book that provided a proof and raised the interest in the forgotten Atlantic.

Currently, when we talk about „La Voiture Noire”, we behave as if the confusion between the two (initially black) Atlantics had never been widespread.

Now that we know the truth about the Bugatti production figures, we recognize the 57453/5722/57454 as the real “La Voiture Noire”. The only “La Voiture Noire”, because the Holzschuch Atlantic, however black, was at the factory for too short time to get a nickname. Some of us even realize that the 57453/57222/57454 had two such names, as it appears in the documents as “Belg. Coupé”. Therefore, that old confusion is no longer a problem. Or is it?

Well, it may still be.

The fact that La Voiture Noire (the 57453/5722/57454) was hidden in the shadow of the Holzschuch car (the 57473) meant that every piece of information about a Bugatti Type 57S Atlantic which was not related to the Rotshild Atlantic (the 57374) or to the EXK 6 (the 57591) was automatically attributed to the 57473.

The mystery of the modified body

For example, the chapter entitled “The Second Atlantic: The Black Car” in Mr. Lester G. Matthews’ book “Bugatti yesterday and today. The Atlantic and other articles” actually tells the story of two cars perceived as one. We tend to draw the line between the combined story and the chronicle of the 57473 somewhere near the photos of Mr. Alphonse Meyer working on the 57453/57222/57454 on Sunday and of the same car driven on the test track in the Vosges mountains. These photos are published on pages 37 and 38. They are also commented on page 39. Then, there is the following fragment:

Garino explained that Marco* told him that Jean had certain changes made to the car in 1938 or 1939: extension of the rear fenders, pontoon style; substitution of louvered ventilation on the sides and top of the hood; the louvers on this example are unique”.

Let’s take a closer look: “extension of the rear fenders, pontoon style”? That sounds pretty much like the 57473 that we know from its photos with Mr. René Chatard.

Nothing special yet.

Nothing special, until we realize that

  • Mr. Matthews might have misinterpreted some facts (he expressed the belief in existence of just three Atlantics), but a testimony from Mr. Pierre Marco, who was a close collaborator of the Bugatti family (, should be considered as credible, despite Mr. Marco’s story of being dishonest with the Bugatti company. Mr. Marco couldn’t have profited from lying to Mr. Gaston Garino,
  • according to Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier, the Holzschuch car was probably not available for Mr. Jean Bugatti in 1938 and 1939. The famous author formulates a hypothesis that the 57473 has been modified just after the war or during the Robert Verkerke era. This hypothesis has a strong basis as Mr. Laugier talked with the relatives of a photographer from the city of Arcachon, regularly visited by the Holzschuch couple.
    Then, the only body which could have been modified by Mr. Jean Bugatti before his death was the body of the car now known as “La Voiture Noire”- i.e. the 57453/57222/57454.
    The authors of “The Bugatti Type 57S” book may say the opposite, as their chapter on the 57473 includes the following mention about Mr. Jacques Holzschuch and his wife: “Apparently they returned the car at short notice in 1937 and took another Type 57, although there is no further entry concerning this in the factory reports”. However, this description may fit Mr. Gabriel Duhoux who took delivery of a Type 57S, I.e. the 57562, on 29.09.1937
  • Moreover, the article entitled “Une Bugatti de légende… Les mystères d’Atlantic”, written by Mr. Christian Huet, contains a mention that the modifications of an Atlantic were commissioned by Robert Benoist. The famous driver, who is known to have used the 57453/57222/57454, “had the body modified in the factory. Jean emphasized its dynamism and its class by lengthening some lines, adding volume to some others, changing some curves, however, with keeping the black paint”

It means that the car which had its body modified was probably the 57453/57222/57454. La Voiture Noire (“the black car”) which is also described as “Mr. Jean’s car”. So, how did the Holzschuch car receive the “pontoon style”? Mr. Ante Furač did a great job by contacting Mr. Richard Adatto, a Figoni specialist. A great work made by the best Figoni researchers leads to a conclusion that the only thing which could support the popular belief that the 57473 was modified by Figoni is the fact that the bodybuilder kept a photo of Mrs. Holzschuch standing next to the car. Even Mr. Pierre Marco’s testimony seems to be much stronger.

But what happened to the 57453/57222/57454 and how did the 57473 undergo the body changes?

To solve this mystery, it may be advisable to advance in the two books that I quoted.

Mr. Matthews mentions an article written by French historian Mr. Jess Pourret. Here is one more hat tip to the creator of a very thoughtful vision of the Belg. Coupé, the very talented Mr. Ante Furač, who asked the American Bugatti Club to retrieve Mr. Pourret’s article. While both mentioned books- the one by Mr. Matthews as well as the one by Mr. Kruta and Mr. Simon, refer to Mr. Pourret’s writing, the article itself was really worth finding and reanalysis.

Although it contains some mistakes, for example a misspelling of Mr. Gabriel Duhoux’s name (he’s mentioned as DuHoux, once again), it may be a missing link in the story of two Atlantics. Firstly, Mr. Pourret writes that La Voiture Noire (The Black Car, although painted “Bugatti Blue”) has been sold by Ernest Friderich. Not a big surprise, as another Bugatti bought by Mr. Gabriel Duhoux, the 57562 Atalante was also delivered by the agent from Nice. Mr. Duhoux and Mr. Friderich might have known each other for a long time, as Mr. Duhoux had competed with Mr. Friderich’s protégé, Mr. Luis Chiron in 1932 Monte Carlo Rally ( As I have already suggested, Mr. Duhoux could have been the one who “returned the car at short notice in 1937 and took another Type 57”. If so, the initial return was certainly not a sign of a final resignation from buying the Atlantic.
The due date for the “Belg. Coupé” (which is a synonym of La Voiture Noire), the 31st of August 1939, as well as Paris as its destination, become more and more interesting. Especially when we realize that the line “Belg. Coupé, 454, 2S, Paris, 31.8.39”, which comes from a notebook called “Carnet No. 4”, is found on a page concerning October 1936.

Something must have happened with the car near the end of August 1939, because shortly afterwards (on the 2nd of September 1939) the chassis number 57454 was assigned to a Type 64 ( Does the due date mark the day when Mr. Robert Benoist wanted to receive the modified Atlantic?

Or is it linked to Mr. Gabriel Duhoux? If it was so, it would mean that the Belgian racer returned the 57453/57222/57454 to the factory once again.
There is a document which confirms that the car was still black in July 1939. Moreover, a testimony of Mr. Jean-Paul Brassler, quoted in Mr. Matthews’ book, contains a mention about an Atlantic which was painted brown before the move to Bordeaux. As La Voiture Noire appears on the list of automotive material stored in Bordeaux (as the 57454), it’s very likely that it has been the car mentioned by Mr. Brassler.
Mr. Pourret stated that the color of the Atlantic received by Mr. Duhoux was actually Bugatti blue. Mr. Ante Furač coined a well-based hypothesis that this information might have come from Mr. Paul Friderich ( Lester G. Matthews gives a summary of the story of the “chassis 57454” (or rather “chassis number 57454”). He writes that “it has been suggested that (…) it was later used in an Atlantic sold to a Belgian named Du Houx, color Bugatti Blue”. The remarks about Mr. Noel Domboy’s great memory, made by Mr. Matthews in his book, lead me to a hypothesis that he might have been one of the sources.It all plays well with the memories ofThe Lady who remembers Mr. Duhoux and who belongs to the family of his life partner ( Moreover, the Lady says that the car had the 57473 styling cues!
It means that:

  • it’s more than probable that the 57453/57222/57454 survived the war
  • Mr. Duhoux seems to have received the car after the war and to have used it in 1946.

The second of these statements is not directly proven, but it’s confirmed by at least two independent sources. The Lady from the Goyvaerts family is not very much interested in the automotive history, yet she spoke about a blue Atlantic, as mentioned in somewhat forgotten article written by Mr. Pourret. And it was when we were all stuck with the vision of the Black Car.
There are reasons to believe that she actually remembers an Atlantic, because:

  • There is no record of the 57562 being crashed and having its bodywork repaired
  • The Lady recalls a single-coloured car, painted in a rather light shade of blue. And, while Mr. Duhoux is also known to be an owner of at least one Mercedes, the car remembered by the Lady had a horseshoe grille

On the other hand, there is a not-so-strong reason to believe that the 57562 was the only Bugatti of Mr. Duhoux, as

  • the Lady can recall just one Bugatti.

A short digression concerning the Bordeaux bombings

On the other hand, the hypotheses about La Voiture Noire being destroyed in a bombing sound hard to believe. The only known bombing of the Bordeaux factory is described in testimonies by Mr. Noel Domboy (page 118 to 120 in the “Bugatti yesterday and today. The Atlantic and other articles” book) and by Mr. Adrian Paul. Mr. Domboy’s letter indicates that the bombing happened in November 1940.

Both testimonies mention three bombs:

  • the first:
    destroyed two cars of German officers (Mr. Paul) vs. burned “the hanger where the Germans held their cars” (Mr. Domboy)
  • the second:
    fell on an office, throwing the German documentation up into the air (Mr. Paul) vs. exploded on the wall surrounding the factory at a far end, pulverizing the locality where all of the Molsheim wooden foundry patterns were stored (Mr. Domboy)
  • the third:
    Didn’t explode, but it damaged a large rolling metal door that gave access to manufacturing buildings (Mr. Domboy) vs. not mentioned (Mr. Paul).

The car existed in February 1941, so the possibility that it was destroyed in a bombing is really little. The RAF attack described by Mr. Domboy doesn’t seem to have harmed it. The personnel of Bordeaux City Archives didn’t find any information about another bombings (

Again: what happened to the 57453/57222/57454 and how did the 57473 receive the modified body?

The key to the post-war traces of La Voiture Noire may lie in the half-legend of Mr. Pierre “Pagnibon” Boncompagni’s ownership of a Bugatti Atlantic in 1940. The story was often attributed to the 57473, however, the article written by Mr. Pourret links Mr. Boncompagni’s Atlantic with Mr. Friderich and Mr. Duhoux. It also gives an answer why does the “Barroquet”, or rather “Barraquet” name appear in the context of 57473. Mr. Alfred Barraquet (he changed his name from “Barraqué” to align with an erroneous spelling which appeared in media) was a mechanic of Mr. Pierre “Pagnibon” Boncompagni. Mr. Pierre “Pagnibon” Boncompagni did own several cars which could be confused with an Atlantic, for example a Talbot-Lago T150 C SS with a Pourtout body ( The body of the Talbot was even named an Aéro Coupé, like the first Bugatti Atlantics.

However, it’s good to have a look at the map of Nice. The distance between the garages owned by Messrs. Boncompagni and Barraquet and Mr. Friderich’s agency is just a 6-minute walk:,+Nicea,+Francja/5+Rue+Berlioz,+Nice,+Francja/21+Rue+de+Rivoli,+Nicea,+Francja/@43.6963401,7.2580066,17z/data=!4m20!4m19!1m5!1m1!1s0x12cdd00e87c60cd3:0xaf21eeb426c5d901!2m2!1d7.2573155!2d43.6996802!1m5!1m1!1s0x1.

If Messrs. Boncompagni and Barraquet had some contact with a Bugatti Atlantic, it’s much more likely that it was the 57453/57222/57454. Neither the racer, nor the mechanic appears in the documents concerning the 57473. Moreover, their ownership is dated either somewhere near 1940 or 1950. During the war the 57473 was probably in Paris or (according some sources) in Monaco and not in French Riviera (Côte d’Azur). In 1950 it was in Cannes and not in Nice
Mr. Pourret tells a story of a Delahaye front axle and a steering box installed in the car, adding that these modifications were done by “Barroquet who still lives outside of Paris”.
And then, it may be good to skip the names “Bodel” “Robert Verkerke”, “André Bouteaux”, „Charles Bérard” and even „Dominique Lamberjack” to jump to the testimony of Mr. Gaston Garino who mentions Mr. Mortarini’s removal of a compressor and of the Delahaye axle. This statement is quoted by Mr. Lester G. Matthews who also informs that Mr. Garino was a close collaborator of Mr. Mortarini. It is compatible with the claims about Mr. Boncompagni found in Mr. Pourret’s article. The rest of the story is well known: Mr. Francis Mortarini was the person who sold an Atlantic to Mr. Antoine “René” Chatard.

I contacted the families of Mr. Barraquet and of Mr. Mortarini and:

  • Mr. Alfred “Fred” Barraquet has told the story of the Delahaye axle to his son. The axle was mounted in a black Bugatti, probably before the WWII
  • Mr. Mortarini’s son was born long after the Atlantic episode, however, he firmly believes that the Atlantic owned by his father was the same as the one which has been driven by Mr. William Grover-”Williams”. And that forms another link between the 57473 and the 57453/57222/57454.

To sum up:

  1. The half-legend about Mr. Pierre “Pagnibon” Boncompagni plays well with another piece of information provided by Mr. Garino: the one about Mr. Mortarini removing a compressor and the Delahaye axle. The 57453/57222/57454 had a factory compressor, in contrast to the 57473. The letter “C” near “57” appears in the documents of the 57473 just after it was owned by Mr. Verkerke.
  2. According to Mr. Gaston Garino, Mr. Pierre Marco said that it was Mr. Jean Bugatti who had made the styling modifications which are often attributed to Figoni. This testimony was confirmed by Mr. Christian Huet’s sources. As Mr. Holzschuch’s car was reportedly unavailable to Mr. Jean Bugatti since its sale, the only Atlantic that could have been modified in the factory was Belg. Coupé/La Voiture Noire. So, the rear part of the body, which is shown on Mr. Antoine “René” Chatard’s photos, would actually be a distinctive element of the real La Voiture Noire.
  3. Mr. Ante Furač contacted the Archives of the Bas-Rhin Department and discovered, that the Type 101 with the chassis number 57454 got its number plate 871 DA 67 on 28 of September 1955. About a month after the accident in which Mr. Antoine “René” Chatard and Mrs. Janine Vacheron had died. This would suggest that Pierre Marco believed that the car which had been destroyed in the crash while carrying Mr. René Chatard and Miss Janine Vacheron had the chassis number 57454 (i.e. that it was the real La Voiture Noire/Belg Coupé).

However, Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier has examined the grey cards (cartes grises) concerning the 57473 and confirmed that the car had been owned by the following people:

  • Mr. Jacques Holzschuch
  • Mr. Jules Boichard
  • Mr. Robert Verkerke (a photo from a street circuit in Nice indicates that he drove a modified Atlantic),
  • Mr. André Bouteaux
  • Mr. Charles Bérard (used the same registration plate as Mr. Antoine “René” Chatard),
  • Mr. Dominique Lamberjack,
  • Mr. François (Francis) Mortarini,
  • Mrs. Marguerite Schneider in behalf of Antoine “René” Chatard.

It’s worth to add that Mr. Lester G. Matthews quotes Mr. Gaston Garino being “sure” that an Atlantic was owned by Mr. Bodel from Cannes in 1950. However, no trace of Mr. Bodel is found by Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier in the documents concerning the 57473. According to Mr. Garino, Mr. Bodel sold the car to Mr. Lamberjack. Is “Bodel” (Baudel? Baudelle?) a name of Mr. Verkerke’s mechanic? It’s possible, because, despite the entry in the “carte grise”, Mr. Verkerke was not from Cannes. He lived near Paris.

Mr. Robert Verkerke had an access to good sources of information about both Atlantics.

  • He lived near Paris, like the Holzschuch family.
  • According to the documents he actually bought the 57473 from Mr. Jules Boichard who lived in Monaco
  • He was linked to Cannes and to the French Riviera in general. It’s proven that he participated in the “Circuit international de vitesse pour voitures particulières de série” in Nice on the 1st of April 1951, but as he is mentioned as a mechanic from Cannes in the “carte grise”, it is likely that he visited the French Riviera often.
  • So, he could have meet Mr. Ernest Friderich and/or Messrs. Boncompagni and Barraquet in Nice
  • Mr. Verkerke, who was also of Belgian origin, might even have contacted Mr. Duhoux, who cured his illness in Grasse (a city that is also located on the French Riviera)

The “cartes grises” confirm that Mr. Verkerke installed a compressor in the 57473. As a racer he also had a reason to mount the Delahaye axle. It could be easily imagined that he bought some parts from the 57453/57222/57454 and then decided to put its body on the 57473 chassis.

This may mean that a single car combined from two Atlantics could have been built in the French Riviera.

Would it mean that there is no automotive treasure to find? Not exactly. The 2SC engine is a gem in itself. Did it stay in Belgium? Was it brought to the French Riviera?

The idea that the cars could have been merged is still a hypothesis, but it is really worth checking. And we would not share such “automotive counterpart of the Fermat’s Last Theorem” if we were not doing our best to find a proof. Please stay tuned.

Andrzej Szczodrak

This means war!


Photo: Eurocopter

There were hopes, that autonomous vehicles would coexist with drivers. However, some days ago the Audible company (subsidiary of Amazon) opened the gate and the flames highlighted the “Lasciate ogni speranza” statement:

What does it mean? It means we are at culture war. What has to be stressed, is the fact that a culture war requires rejecting physical violence. If somebody uses such measures, he or she admits losing the war.
Sneer is the ultimate weapon. We need at least as much wits, as Jeremy Clarkson pitted against John Prescott. And if the high society of the IT industry stops Clarkson from speaking out for human driving (as he works for Amazon), we need to have new leaders.
The fight has to be bloodless, yet ruthless, as we are as different from these people as conservatives are different from liberals. We have to show the autonomous vehicle endorsers as screen-sucking zombies who treat “1984” as a handbook, or they will stigmatize us as potential murderers.

(C) by Andrzej Szczodrak

Elon Musk’s secret strategy to be completed with the new Tesla model A6

Tesla Roadster

(Photo by Alexandre Prévot)

After the premiere of the compact executive Model 3, Tesla Motors’ premium EVs range is almost complete. Our insider admits that Elon Musk’s automotive company intends to show just one more vehicle- the mid-size luxury sedan called “Tesla model A6”. Here is a short interview with our Tesla Motors insider (TMI):

TMI: Nobody noticed that we have deliberately chosen some names associated with established luxury automakers. The Model S was an obvious sign that we want to challenge Mercedes. Then, we made fun of Infiniti and their usage of “Q” and “X”. By the way, do you know, when will they get their QX-step remix of GLA?
Now, we would like to provoke BMW with our Model 3. We thought about some action to irritate Lexus, but we realised that we had already thrown the Toyota’s engine out of Lotus Elise. So only Audi is left, and we will soon make up for it. The Tesla model A6 is really going to make them nervous!

Motofiction: Oh, wait. What about Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Acura?

TMI:  If they sue us, we will have to invent something…

Motofiction: Well, they may feel omitted after you unveil the real explanation of the TESLA acronym.

TMI: Yeah, it’s funny how people still believe in this fairy tale about being inspired by Nikola Tesla!


TESLA- Trolling Every Single Luxury Automaker.


(C) by Andrzej Szczodrak