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The Bugatti that survived Nazi target practice during WWII

A vintage Bugatti that survived being used for target practice by Nazis during WWII is up for auction in the UK this month.

The 1929 Bugatti Type 44 Vanvooren Saloon is expected to fetch £200,000 – £240,000 ($257,000 – $308,000) at H&H Classics, as part of a sale at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford on July 26.

“It is beautifully detailed with unusual triple-hinged doors and among the most delightful Vintage Saloons we have encountered,” says Damian Jones, Head of Sales for H&H Classics.

The car is comprised of an original Type 44 frame complete with an elegant saloon coachwork body by Carrosserie Vanvooren, a French company renowned for creating luxury cars prior to WWII.

The frame started life in England, and passed through the hands of several British collectors over the years before being paired with the Vanvooren body during a restoration project in the 1990s.

The body, however, had a far more dramatic history.

It originally adorned a Type 44 Bugatti owned by Jean-Jacques Peugeot, a member of the wealthy French car manufacturing family

The Peugeot factory was taken over during the German occupation, and forced to produce turrets for tanks – although thanks to a plot between Rudolph Peugeot and British secret agent Harry Ree, it was repeatedly sabotaged and was of little use to the Nazis.

Jean-Jacques Peugeot’s chateau at Montbeliard was similarly commandeered by the Germans, and used to house Nazi troops, who soon discovered the Bugatti stored safely in the garage.

One day, whilst stationed at the chateaux, a group of bored German soldiers decided to use the car for target practice, and riddled the doors with bullet holes.

Jean-Jacques Peugeot returned to his home following the end of the war, and his beloved (and battered) Bugatti remained in his collection until the early 1960s, when he gave it to another collector in the Netherlands.

The body was eventually acquired for the restoration project, and today sits proudly on its new frame, having recently enjoyed several continental tours across Europe (thankfully, without being shot at).

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