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Classic Bugatti For Sale?



The history of Bugatti

Founded in 1909 by a Milanese engineer, Ettore Bugatti, the marque produced many fine classic Bugatti cars which were renowned for the superbly detailed engineering and their Art Nouveau-influenced design artistry. Sadly, the Bugatti company declined following the death of Ettore’s son, Jean, in 1939. With no natural successor, on the death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947, the company’s long decline accelerated rapidly, with the original Bugatti company ending production in 1952.

Bugatti racing cars achieved considerable success, starting in 1908 with the Type 10 ‘Petit Pur Sang’, which took the first four places in its first race. Bugatti cars won the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix, and the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1937 and 1939, whilst the Targa Florio was won in five consecutive years from 1935-39.

Classic Bugatti road cars were produced from 1912 onwards. Bugatti production levels for each model was always low, and today most are housed in museums or private collections and are rarely offered on the classic car market.

Only six examples of the 1912-14 Type 18 5-litre straight four cylinder cars were built, with three still in existence, including one in England. The Types 13, 15, 17, 22 and 23 models combined production run amounted to 435 vehicles before ending in 1920. Of the early models, only the classic Bugatti Type 23 Brescia multi-valve engine touring cars were ever made in substantial numbers, with 2,000 being built from 1920-26.

Bentley cars, according to Ettore Bugatti, were the “world’s fastest lorries” with their focus on durability rather than decreasing weight as Bugatti attempted to do, yet Bugatti indulged in the luxury Grand Tourer market himself with the Type 41 “Royale” of 1927-33 in an attempt to outrival Rolls Royce and Bentley. With plans to sell to royalty throughout Europe, Bugatti intended to produce twenty-five of these cars in Berline, coupé, cabriolet and roadster versions. Marketed as the most luxurious car ever made, the huge 12-litre straight eight engine and three speed gearbox Royale was doomed by the economic depression and only six cars were ever produced, with just three being sold.

The Types 46-55 Bugatti models were produced throughout the 1930s. These were classed as large touring cars, with four hundred Type 46 built, and sixteen supercharged vehicles made. The Type 50 sporting coupe and 50T touring sedan version were produced from 1930-34, with sixty-five produced. The Type 55 roadster was a road version of the Type 54 racing car, with a 2.3 litre engine. Thirty-eight vehicles were produced.

Jean Bugatti designed the classic Bugatti Type 57 “Atlantic” and “Atalante” cars with mainly 3.257 litre engines. Production ran from 1934-40, a year after Jean’s death. A Type 57S version was produced with a “surbaisse”, lowered chassis, a design Jean’s father disliked.

World War Two destroyed the Molsheim factory. Cars were secretly walled up or buried to prevent them being acquired by the Nazis, together with the remaining Type 57 chassis, which were later used to produce the Type 101 Bugatti from 1951-56. Only seven vehicles were built, with coachwork conducted by Antem, Guilloré, Gangloff and Ghia.

Roland Bugatti produced a mid-engined Type 251 racing car in an attempt to resurrect the marque but the final Bugatti racing car was produced in 1956, followed, in 1962, by the last Bugatti road car, the Type 252, of which only a prototype car was ever made.

The scarcity of classic Bugatti cars render them desirable, and hence, extremely valuable vehicles. With many Bugatti cars in museums and private collections, very few vehicles enter the classic car market for sale. An occasional model is, quite literally, unearthed. One such vehicle, a classic Type 57S Bugatti Atalante, had been stored in a Newcastle on Tyne garage for forty-eight years. The vehicle fetched 3.4 million Euros when auctioned in Paris in 2009.