The Fate of the Sleeping Beauties

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The "Sleeping Beauties" – the neglected Bugattis, Lancias, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Cords, and Aston Martins found on a French estate – have fascinated car lovers worldwide since 1983 when they were immortalized in a series of photographs by Herbert W Hesselmann. For many years the full story behind the collection remained untold ... until now.

 

Say ‘Sleeping Beauties' to committed car enthusiasts and they will immediately know what you're talking about: a world-famous 1980s photo series, showing an extraordinary collection of classic automobiles rusting away in a French barn, neglected by their owner. Famous brands like Bugatti, Lancia, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Cord, and Aston Martin, lay under thick layers of dust, spending their remaining days falling apart in isolation.

Many have tried to find out what happened to these cars since the photographs were taken – decayed? destroyed? sold? – but all leads fizzled out ... until two Dutchmen and a German hung on where others had given up.

In true ‘Boy's Own’ style, their book tells of the three-year-long search for the fate of the cars from that French barn. It tells the story behind the collection's origins in 1948, through to the moment in 1983 when the famous photos were published, up to the day in 2007 when the authors talked to the current 79-year-old owner – a man who finally broke his silence about the fate of his collection for the first time in 25 years.