It’s not often that a car auction, let alone a car, makes it into the daily papers. But the 1937 Bugatti Type 57S that Bonhams is selling at Rétromobile on February 7 has been given so many column inches that it’s almost made Ulrika Jonsson’s Big Brother exploits look dull.
The 57S was introduced as a step up from the 57 and, with a lower centre of gravity and sportier, more aerodynamic bodywork, it was Bugatti’s answer to the sports car question. The model made its debut at the Paris Salon in 1935 in Atlantic coupé form. Slightly less dramatic was the Atalante body style of the rediscovered car, of which only 17 examples were made.
This example (above) has an aristocratic pedigree, being originally owned by racing driver Earl Howe and subsequently bought by Lord Ridley. It has a continuous history and is in extremely original condition, with the remarkably low mileage of only 26,284.
At this point you may wonder why this car has received such widespread coverage. Well, a certain Dr Harold Carr acquired the Bugatti in 1955 and drove it until the ’60s, when he parked it up and closed the door to his garage. The car remained there while locals passed on the rumour that the doctor had a rare Bugatti housed within the garage’s dusty walls. But it stayed a rumour until Carr died in 2007, and the family finally had an opportunity to open the garage doors.
“Although she requires restoration,” says James Knight, the international head of Bonhams, “it is restoration in the true sense of the word. From my perspective, save for some of the interior, all original parts can be restored or conserved in order to maintain originality.
“I have known of this Bugatti for several years and, like a select group of others, hadn’t dared to divulge its whereabouts to anyone.”
Even in these troubled times the estimate of £2.6-3 million may seem a little pessimistic. After all, everyone loves a ‘barn find’, especially the national papers when their other option is a certain Swedish lady…