See also : Cars 1920s Cars 1930s Cars 1930-33 Cars 1934-35 Cars 1936-37
Chronology : 1931 1934
2021 SOLD for $ 5.6M by Gooding
Nevertheless the 35C remains the most successful in racing with its top speed of 202 km/h quite comparable with the 210 km/h of the 35B.
The day of fame of the 35B went on June 30, 1929 at Le Mans when a newly built works car driven by William Grover-Williams won the Grand Prix Automobile de France after leading from start the 37 lap 4:30 hour race. Its image with its driver is shared by Wikimedia from a press agency photo.
That competition was managed by the Automobile Club de France which had some specific rules concerning the fuel consumption. Back from Le Mans, the winning car was fitted with the usual pointed tailed body of the Type-35 Grand Prix. It was sold to Louis Chiron who drove it to victory in the Spanish Grand Prix at San Sebastian a few days later, on July 25, 1929.
Returned in 2006 to a period appropriate appearance using much of its Molsheim Grand Prix bodywork, this twice Grand Prix winner is still fitted with its original engine, chassis frame, supercharger, gearbox, rear and front axles. It is painted in French blue.
It was sold for $ 5.6M from a lower estimate of $ 3.5M by Gooding on August 14, 2021, lot 133. It is illustrated in second position in the press release shared by the auction house.
Sporting a powerful 2.3-liter, eight-cylinder engine fitted with a Roots-type supercharger, this 1929 #Bugatti Type 35B was the winner of the 1929 French and Spanish Grand Prix with Williams and Chiron. #PebbleBeachAuctions— Gooding & Company (@goodingandco) July 8, 2021
Learn More: https://t.co/9KpoRDWITw pic.twitter.com/UIke7oE95p
1931 La Royale
1987 SOLD for £ 5.5M (including premium ?) worth US$ 9.8M at that time, by Christie's
The prototype demonstrates the feasibility in 1926. Times change. The King of Spain, targeted as the emblematic client, is in difficulty. The economic crisis arises. Bugatti had planned 25 units. Only 6 are produced, each with another body type. The only king who shows interest in La Royale, Zog of Albania, is not accepted by Bugatti.
The business failure of La Royale is obvious. Three cars are sold. Ettore Bugatti's personal car will enter the Schlumpf collection in the 1960s. The other two, chassis 41140 and 41151, are acquired together in 1950 by Briggs Cunningham. Cunningham sells 41151 and keeps 41140 for his museum which closes in 1986.
Built in 1931, 41140 retains its original bodywork by Kellner, a two-door coupe for five passengers. It was sold on November 17, 1987 by Christie's for £ 5.5M, worth $ 9.8M at that time. I guess this figure includes the premium. It passed at Kruse in 1989, far below a reserve price of $ 15M.
The image is shared with attribution : Arnaud 25, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Type 55 Roadster
2016 SOLD for $ 10.4M by Gooding
The situation is uneasy. In racing, the glorious Type 35 is no more competitive and its successors Types 51, 53 and 54 do not reach the performance of their Alfa Romeo competitors. Too expensive, the Type 41 La Royale limousine appealed only three customers and its target of 25 units in production will never be achieved.
Fortunately the commercial success is maintained by a deluxe coupé designed in 1929 by Ettore and Jean, the Type 46 nicknamed La Petite Royale. Jean was 20 years old.
The Bugatti brand introduces in 1931 the Type 55 sports car with three factory bodywork options : coupé, cabriolet and roadster. Only 38 cars were made overall.
Designed by Jean, this roadster introduces an increased elegance within the Bugatti range while the top speed is just shy of 180 km/h. In the following year, Jean gets inspired by this avant-garde experience to equip in roadster the La Royale purchased by Armand Esders.
From 1931 to 1936, 14 of the Type 55 chassis are equipped with Jean Bugatti's roadster. One of them made in 1932 was sold for $ 10.4M by Gooding on August 21, 2016, lot 135.
Despite the differentiation between sports and competition models, the car for sale had entered the Mille Miglia in 1932. Piloted by Achille Varzi who was then an official driver to Bugatti, it had to stop after the piercing of the fuel tank by a rock.
This car retained a high level of authenticity. It was completely dismantled for a careful restoration. The original engine and gearbox, replaced by replicas during the re-assembly, are included in the auction lot.
2020 SOLD for $ 7.1M by Bonhams
Victor Rothschild, heir to the barony of the British bankers, is not mistaken. Aged 21, he is a student at Cambridge where he leads a playboy life. He does not order La Royale or La Petite Royale but a Super Sport Jean Bugatti, which is assembled in August 1932. In 1936 he will be the very first of the three customers of the Bugatti Atlantic.
The 55 Super Sport generates passions up to current day. In 1985 Dr. Edmonds, a physicist at Boston University, learned that the Type 55 ex Rothschild was going to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London. He jumps into a Concorde and becomes the owner of the wonder for £ 440K, at the extreme limit of his financial possibilities, beyond the maximum price he had himself set.
Edmonds puts the car back into working condition with all its original equipment. In 1993 his Bugatti is First in class at Pebble Beach. He will never part with it. It was sold from his deceased estate, for $ 7.1M by Bonhams on March 5, 2020, lot 123.
1934 Type 59
2020 SOLD for £ 9.5M by Gooding
The 59 only wins two Grand Prix : at Spa because the Alfa Romeos had a crash and, more deservingly, in Algeria. The traceability of the Grand Prix Bugattis is based on the engines and not on the chassis, and it is impossible to discriminate between the individual cars their participations in the competitions.
These discouraging results could have been anticipated : the 59 is too heavy, too rigid, not powerful enough, with an outdated gearbox and poor brakes. It will not be replaced : following the success of his high-end sports car, the Type 55, Jean Bugatti gives priority to the roadsters.
In 1935 four 59 were sold to English customers. The car with the No. 5 engine undergoes a long series of modifications at the factory. Accustomed to its presence in their premises, the mechanics affectionately nicknamed it Grand-Mère.
Grand-Mère is now a Bugatti 59 Sports, bodyworked as a two-seaters for competitions on French roads where the Alfa Romeos do not come. Driven by Wimille, it achieves many successes in 1937. Significantly, its new chassis had been numbered like a 57, ultimately erasing the page of the 59s.
A great lover of luxury cars and an outstanding patron of the brand, Léopold III of Belgium acquires this one-off 59 Sports in 1938. Rediscovered in the former royal garage in 1967, it remains authentic in the configuration of its delivery by Bugatti to the king.
Grand-Mère was sold for £ 9.5M by Gooding on September 5, 2020, lot 4. Its image at Goodwood in 2012 is shared by Wikimedia with attribution : David Merrett from Daventry, England [CC BY].
1936-1938 Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic
Jean Bugatti was one of the great innovators of automobile design. The lowered variant 57 S of the chassis type 57 paves the way for dramatic solutions mingling sport and luxury, including the 57 S Atalante and Atlantic. From the beginning their rarity makes them true works of art, contemporary to the Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster.
The image of a Bugatti Atlantic at Retromobile 2012 is shared by Wikimedia with attribution : Thesupermat, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>
1937 Bugatti Type 57 S
The combined Bugatti 57 variant is the lowered and supercharged SC, a very attractive option for the users because the car can now reach 190 km/h. A high proportion of 57 S were upgraded into 57 SC.
In period the 57 S was only exciting the true connoisseurs. Its production was stopped in May 1938 for focusing onto the other variants whose commercial success was more promising. Only 42 chassis 57 S have been produced. The Atalante originally fitted 33 chassis 57 S including 17 SC.
57 S / SC Atalante
2022 SOLD for $ 10.3M by Gooding
Made in April 1937 but titled as a 1938, it had been one of the first 57 S to return to the factory for being equipped as an SC with the Roots supercharger. Beyond the catalogue it also has unique characteristics including oversized headlamps and beautiful rear fenders and tail.
This car retains its original chassis plate, its original 3.3 liter alloy inline 8 cylinder engine re-united with the car in 2005 and its original Molsheim Atalante body in an elegant original-like black color scheme. The original gearbox was recently located and re-fitted.
57 S / SC Atalante
2020 SOLD for £ 7.9M by Gooding
Also president of the Bugatti Owners' Club, Earl Howe closely follows all the developments of the brand. For the Grands Prix he uses a Type 51 in 1931, a Type 54 in 1932 and a Type 59 in 1935 and 1936. A 57 T specially built for him by Bugatti in 1935 was sold for € 710K by Bonhams on February 8, 2018.
For his personal use, this aristocrat wants the best. In November 1936, he orders to Bugatti a Type 57 with the new 57 S lowered chassis and the new Atalante coupe bodywork developed on behalf of Jean Bugatti. His car is ready in May 1937.
In 1960 a further owner of this Atalante, sick and reclusive, stops taking care of it. After his death in 2007, his heirs found it untouched for 47 years, covered in dust, with only 42,000 km on the odometer.
The car surfaced in the Bonhams sale at Retromobile on February 7, 2009, lot 142. Its cleaning confirmed that it was still in its original configuration, apart from a few secondary elements such as mirrors and bumpers and a supercharger added in 1948.
Bonhams experts estimated that its engine, which had not been running for half a century, could be operated again after disassembly and reconstruction. The car was sold for € 3.4M.
The original engine restarted as predicted. The Atalante was sold for £ 7.9M by Gooding on September 5, 2020, lot 15. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
57 S / SC Roadster by Vanden Plas
2016 SOLD for $ 9.7M by Bonhams
No American customer is interested and the Bugatti - Vanden Plas car returns to London. It is appreciated by Bugatti who pictures it in the 1937-1938 catalog and exhibits it at the 1938 London Motor Show, but it will nevertheless remain unique.
The car resurfaces in 1947 with some modifications including a Type 35B supercharger which will be replaced in the 1980s by a Type 57 in a factory correct 57 SC specification. It was painted in light metallic blue.
This spectacular Franco-British pre-war automobile was sold for $ 9.7M by Bonhams on March 10, 2016, lot 139. Its perfect working condition was demonstrated in the video shared by the auction house.
Its new owner had its restored to the highest possible extant to its original factory condition, including the original gray color. Poor repairs were replaced with period correct materials, techniques and hardware, leaving visible the factory tooling marks so that the car "should be as good but no better than when it left the factory". An example of that extreme refinement was the top material in a specially made cotton-based material in its proper black color, ready to begin to fade like the former original over time.
This car remaining with its original coachwork and in fully matching numbers passed at Bonhams on March 2, 2023, lot 150.
Only one other 57 S had been coachworked by Vanden Plas, as a two seat cabriolet.
57 SC Atalante
2008 SOLD for $ 7.9M by Gooding
The 57 SC Atalante coupe of 1937 was sold for $ 7.9M. A 35 B of 1928 originally owned by Louis Chiron was sold for $ 1.45M. A 55 roadster was sold for $ 1.75M.
This collection from an estate is unique in the range of models and the personality of their former owner, a professor of medicine whose passion for automobiles were raised exclusively for that brand and who was president of the American Bugatti Club. The proceeds from the sale will go to medical organizations.
Dr. Williamson had also owned one of the two surviving Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic. This car was sold for more than $ 30M in a private sale facilitated by Gooding in 2010.
57 S Cabriolet by Vanvooren
2017 SOLD for $ 7.7M by RM Sotheby's
Assembled in 1937, one of them has been carefully preserved by its successive owners and retains its original chassis, body, engine and gearbox. It was repainted in the early 1960s with elegant primrose yellow sides that reinforce its resemblance with an Atalante coupe.
This car was sold for $ 7.7M by RM Sotheby's on March 11, 2017, lot 232.