Your monthly briefing of automotive intrigue

The Ferrari that Enzo buried

The 1961 Ferrari 156 F1 car, nicknamed the Sharknose because of its distinctive front air intake, was the first mid-engine Ferrari to win the F1 championship. Its top driver, Phil Hill, become America’s first F1 world champion. Alas when it finished its racing career, Enzo Ferrari ordered all 156s destroyed. Even Hill’s 1961 world title car was cut up and mixed into concrete for a new part of the Ferrari factory. Why Enzo Ferrari destroyed so many cars remains a mystery. A single original 156 survives, in the Ferrari Museum in Maranello.




The 'El Chapo' McLaren F1 

The McLaren F1 is one of the world’s most iconic sports cars, and the fastest road car of its day. Just 106 were made. Chassis number 39 was built for McLaren boss Ron Dennis. His wife hated the metallic brown color so it was sold. Its new owner was Umberto Ojeda, a prominent lieutenant of Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzmán, alias El Chapo. When Ojeda was gunned down and killed in 1997, his family hid the F1. It’s never been found. 




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The world’s most valuable missing car

When unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire was the world’s most expensive new car – at $12.5m. It paid homage to a rare Bugatti that disappeared at the outbreak of World War 2. The original La Voiture Noire - named after its black paint - was one of four Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantics built from 1936-38. This stunning coupé is one of the world’s most coveted and stylish classic cars: Ralph Lauren has supposedly turned down offers of more than $100m for his. The lost masterpiece was originally used at motor shows before becoming the personal car of Jean Bugatti, the car’s designer and son of company founder Ettore Bugatti. Soon after the war began, it was sent by train to Bordeaux, away from Bugatti headquarters in Molsheim, near the German border. It hasn’t been seen since. Although the latest La Voiture Noire is no longer the world’s most valuable new car, after the unveiling this year of Rolls-Royce’s $28m Boat Tail, the original is likely to be the world’s most valuable missing car should it ever reappear.




The disappearing Duesenberg

The classic car insurer Hagerty calls the pre-war Duesenberg J arguably the finest American car ever built. Owners included film stars Clark Gable and Gary Cooper, and European royalty, among them the Duke of Windsor and King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The SJ, or supercharged version, was particularly coveted. Only 36 were built. One – chassis number 506 – is missing. It was first displayed at the 1934 Paris Motor Show and then sold to Emile Beghain, a gentleman racing driver. He took it back to his home in Algeria. It stayed there until he fled his estate in 1962 at the end of the Algerian Revolution. No sign of the Duesenberg has been seen since.




Bugatti tragedy?

Isadora Duncan, known as the ‘Mother of Modern Dance’, was killed when her long silk scarf wrapped itself around her open car’s wire wheel. The accident happened on a warm night in Nice on the French Riviera in September 1927. Duncan, 50, was a passenger in the car driven by her Italian boyfriend. What is still a mystery is the make of the car. Initial reports said it was a Bugatti. More recent reports say it was an Amilcar, a pre-war French marque. Equally uncertain is what happened to the car.





The lost Afghan Bentley 

The 4½ liter Bentley was the winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1929. It was raced by the ‘Bentley Boys’, a group of wealthy daredevil pleasure-seekers who partied hard, drank well and drove fast. A 1929 model was bought by Bentley financier Geoffrey Joel who exported it to India, where it promptly disappeared. It was rediscovered in Afghanistan in the 1970s and driven on a four-week, 5,700-mile journey back to England. It was later bought by a British entrepreneur who has just reluctantly sold it at auction for £534,000 (just over $750,000) to help settle his divorce debts. 




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