x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Top 5: Cars buried in the prime of their service

Misfortune or malice can sometimes bring an untimely end to a vehicle. Here are five stories to make any petrolhead tear up.

The Bugatti in the lake.
The Bugatti in the lake.

Bugatti in a lake

The taxman has a bad enough rep as it is, but in 1936 a Swiss tax official, frustrated with the owner of a Bugatti after he abandoned it in Switzerland without paying the appropriate import duties, pushed this 1925 Type 22 into Lake Maggiore. He was, he reasoned, duty bound to destroy it because the amount owed was more than the car's then value. Discovered by divers in 1967, lying on its side 50m below the surface, it was finally raised in 2010, with air still in its tyres and some of its original blue paintwork intact. It's still worth Dh500,000.

The Unburied Car

This 1957 Plymouth Belvedere was intentionally buried in the US state of Oklahoma when it was brand new, to be exhumed decades later to show the people of the future just what "amazing taste" Americans had in the 1950s. After 50 years it was indeed rescued from its concrete tomb and the gathered crowds waited to see a good-as-new car emerge. The bunker it was sealed in, despite being advertised as able to withstand nuclear fallout, was not airtight and the Belvedere was little more than a wreck.

DB5 found in barn junk

Not exactly in "as new" condition, this battered old Aston Martin DB5 nevertheless sold at auction for the princely sum of Dh1.64 million last summer, at Goodwood's Festival of Speed in the UK. The result took speculators by surprise, tripling its original estimated selling price. The anonymous seller bought it from a farmer in Pennsylvania, USA, who had consigned it to rust away beneath the junk stored in his barn. The new owner will need to spend just as much again to restore it to its former glory.

Lord Brocket's buried Italians

Charles Ronald George Brocket, aka Lord "Charlie" Brocket, aka Prisoner HG-1031, was jailed in 1996 for insurance fraud. He hadn't been caught claiming for the contents of his freezer, oh no. An avid collector of old Ferraris and other rare Italians, his stately pile was driving him ever deeper into debt and he thought that claiming four of his most valuable cars had been stolen would net him a nice little earner. He actually cut them up and buried them in the grounds of his mansion.

GMC buried in snow

Earlier this year a 44-year-old Swede was found barely alive in his car after it had been buried in snow for two months. He survived by chomping on ice but we have no idea what car he was in. So, instead, consider a family on Route 66 in America, who got stuck in a blizzard while in a GMC Yukon. The heavy snow consumed the car and the three occupants feared they'd reached the end in an automotive igloo. After two days of DVD viewing and junk food aplenty they were rescued by the National Guard.