This weekend’s sale of a Type 57S was the first public offering of the car in its 80-year life, and only the third time it has ever changed hands.
Having never undergone a full restoration, this rare car has retained a host of original components, including the engine, gearbox, chassis.
The Type 57 programme was the first major project of Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean Bugatti. Ettore handed him control of the operation when he was just 23 years old. 710 models were made, with many owners opting for after-purchase customisation through coachmakers such as Vanvooren.
Today this car is believed to be one of only three surviving Type 57S cabriolets produced by the Vanvooren coachmakers.
Its past owners have kept it in good condition, including the previous owner who maintained the car for 20 years. The Bugatti was originally ordered by Francois Labesse, who lost a leg in WWI and was chauffeured around in a fleet of luxurious vehicles that included the Type 57S.
Later owners have been British, including a former vice president at the British Bugatti Club and a founder and director of the Bugatti Trust, who owned the car for 30 years, making only a few minor adjustments.
Astonishingly, RM Sotheby’s had expected the Bugatti to attract even greater interest, with an initial estimate of $8.5m. The auction house achieved $70m in sales over last weekend’s Amelia Island auction, bolstered by the sale of an Aston Martin Short-Chassis Volante at $2,145,000 and Mike Tyson’s Ferrari F50 at $2,640,000.
The second highest selling car of the year is now a Jaguar E-Type that sold at Scottsdale for $7.37m in January.
Ashley Coates is a freelance motoring writer