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The 1970s land yacht Bugatti doesn't want you to know about

Illustration for article titled The 1970s land yacht Bugatti doesnt want you to know about

Before Bugatti was resurrected by Volkswagen, and even before Romano Artioli brought the brand back in 1991 with the EB110, two Californians built this car, a 1970s vision of French ultra-luxury.


Mike Sherman and Dave Kent built just two of these custom Bugattis off of 1973 Lincoln Continentals, and yeah, they're really Bugattis. At least, that's what it says on the front –- Kent and Sherman claim to have bought the rights to the Bugatti name sometime in the early 1970s looking to bring back the marquee in the wake of retro rides like Brook's Sevens' Excalibur, Virgil Exner's Duesenberg and the Stutz revivals.


Bugatti's own official history denies there were any production cars built between the 1930s and 1990s, and maybe good for reason. Real Bugattis or not, they don't match the brand's prestige image.

These cars may look like automotive travesties today, but they looked like goldmines to some of the more eccentric automotive designers back when they were new. The Stutz, for instance, sold for four times what a Cadillac cost and it was built up from a Pontiac.

Kent and Sherman showed off their custom Bugattis at Pebble Beach in 1976 with price tags of $64,000, some six times more than the 460c.i. Continentals the cars started off as. While there's none of the engineering artistry that made Bugattis legends and keeps them at the top of the heap today, there's still something amazing about the effort and optimism wrapped up in this 1970s wonder.

Sure, it might have been made by two custom car builders looking to cash in on one of the most storied names in automobilia, but it's a cost-driven travesty with style. See more of the car at its eBay auction, where it has resurfaced from decades of absolute obscurity.


(Hat tip to M. Bonkowski!)

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My X-type is too a real Jaguar

I equate these 1970s luxury brand revival cars to the hideous restomods today. In a way these cars were better than the restomods as they started with a new car, also the designers made a real effort to make the cars stand out from the crowd. These days a custom car is nothing more than a 60’s era muscle car on 19 inch Foose Wheels and shaved door handles. While I am on the subject of Chip Foose, how did he get to be so popular, he moves a few styling cues around and is hailed a genius. Putting a Corvette’s turn signals under the front bumper does not make it a cool custom.

Customs like this and the current restomod movement are born out of bland design period from the automakers, boring designs necessitate hideous customs. I contend there have been fewer hideous restomods of Mustangs and Camaros since the retro designs have launched, why because custom car shops prefer to start with new cars. So in that regard the only thing that can stop bad custom car design is interesting and exciting designs from the factory.