Brightwells to sell barn-find Bugatti


A Type 51 Bugatti that was believed by a previous owner to be Count Stanislas Czaykowski’s 1931 Casablanca Grand Prix-winning car will be auctioned at Brightwells on 26 September.

The car – which has being lying unused for 9 years – was discovered hidden behind 1980s youngtimers in a Worcestershire garage that was blocked off by trees.

The racing car’s previous owner Alan Riley acquired it in 1987 – trading it for a 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 and a 1954 Maserati 250F.

Research into its history is ongoing, but an initial inspection by a Bugatti expert suggests it is a skillfully executed replica, though a substantial part of the chassis may be from Czaykowski’s car.

The car will be sold at Brightwells’ Leominster aution.



Chris Martin

Once again we see a reputable auction house condoning the staged 'barn find' photos to help promote interest.
This one is even less convincing than that orange Porsche 911 sitting in a real barn surrounded by straw we saw a few months back.
There is something iffy about the whole story, and certainly the claim it has been unused for the last 9 years is irrelevant - the value of any Bugatti T51 in 2003 would have been enough to ensure nobody was going to bury it in rubbish, and the arrangement of said rubbish for the photo is obviously faked.
Such fakery should make anyone suspicious and only goes to reinforce the mentioned 'expert's' claim that this is a replica.
Let's hope this fools nobody and the seller is taught a lesson.
Chris M.


Type 13

I can understand your feelings Chris, but in the coming days a very sad story will probably come to light.

I have nothing to do with the auction house instructed to sell this car, but I can assure you that the surroundings that it was 'discovered' was not faked in any way at all.

I would advise any interested party to contact the Bugatti Owners Club, as this is a very complicated situation.



The car has had a bit of a history. There may well be some original Bugatti parts - the car is believed to have had an Alta engine at some time and also parts from another car known as the Chorlton Special.

Alan Riley has advertised for parts for many, many years in the, mostly free, sections of the classic press. It was always a bit bizarre to see them in Practical Classics and the like amongst spares for Morris Minors and Ford Pops - wanting T51 parts and offering various strange part exchanges for a Maserati 300S!

It's hard to imagine who might have part-exchanged an 8C and a 250F for this.....

It'll be interesting to hear what develops.....

There's some interesting info at


Would be a wonderful barn find.......... if it is as it purports to be.

I remember there was an advert in Exchange & Mart back in about 2001/2/3 for a Bugatti Type 51 with non Bugatti running gear (something European from the 1930's the seller said). I recall they were asking £35k which would have been a bargain 'if'' it were real;

caveat emptor


I knew Alan Riley, the owner of this car, and I saw it being retrieved from its resting place. I would advise Chris Martin to think more carefully before he makes libellous statements on the internet in future. There was nothing staged about the rubbish covering the car and there was certainly nothing staged about the JCBs and chainsaws required to clear the trees, soil and rotting 80s cars from the front of the garage before the Bugatti could be exhumed.

Whatever it really turns out to be, this car is still a fascinating find and I'm sure the auction house concerned will present all the facts to potential bidders in a totally honest and open way. No one is trying to fool anyone here. Sadly, it seems like the only person who may have been fooled is poor old Alan who genuinely believed that he had the real deal. Having seen the car at close quarters, it is certainly mighty convincing and Alan was no idiot. He had owned two unquestionably genuine Bugattis previously along with numerous other classics and had spent his life working in the engineering research department at Longbridge.

This is possibly quite a sad tale that should be a salutary lesson to anybody who takes an interest in rare old cars - particularly ones that have gone from being worth just a few thousand pounds a couple of decades ago to millions of pounds today. I just hope that Mr Martin has the humility to learn a lesson himself before he shoots from the hip in public again. However much it may feel like the Wild West at times, the internet is not a lawyer-free zone. Go too far and the Sheriff might get you...


James Elliott

Thank you everyone who has added detail and insight to this story on our behalf. Obviously we applied a degree of discretion to our original report because, whether the Bugatti is real or not, this car had an owner who adored it and believed it to be important and we respected him.
As supposedly hard-nosed journalists we perhaps shouldn't apply such restraint, but as genuine enthusiasts and caring human beings we are compelled to.

Group Editor, C&SC

Chris Martin

Well if these witnesses can say that is how it was found then I apologise immediately. From the look of the photograph one could assume the car has been deliberately buried in rubbish, but if that was so, and the rest of the history of it's previous owner possibly being deceived at some point, then maybe it WAS deliberately hidden away in disgust. Whatever the truth I await the outcome with interest while trying to extract foot from mouth etc.
Meanwhile, from what I have seen of various well known Bugattis there are many 'bitsa's which are known to be so and even have BOC chassis numbers, and there is certainly no disgrace in that. One of the best known T35s with continuous competition history is here in Australia and has had an Anzani engine since the mid-thirties, but surely that would still be recognised for what it is rather than what it's parts could be?
As for the T51 mentioned here, and it's possible history, obviously all concerned will have to tread carefully regarding what can and can't be claimed or attributed, and if it is mostly a replica, listed as such.
I dare say that even if that is the case, the controversy will only add to the selling price.
Chris M.



Classic & Sports Car. First for motoring news - well beats the Daily Mail!


That car would be dream come true to find. Could you image being the boys that foudn it hidden behind some trees. Even if it's not 100% authentic it would be an incredible find.

If anyone has heard any more information about it please let me know. I would love to know what additional research has turned up.
- Sara


This is totally fake as all the rubbish and the car would be faded and covered in dust. It all looks pristine as though it was put there on the day of the photo.


Add your comment

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br> <img>
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

You must be logged in to comment
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.