The Bugatti Atalante is considered an art deco automotive masterpiece – and one that is always a showstopper at Monterey week. Bonhams is offering one of the rarest and most sought-after examples of Bugatti’s golden age supercar – a time capsule 1938 Type 57C Atalante – at its silver anniversary Quail Lodge Auction on August 19.
Speed, style, exclusivity, originality and provenance: this particular jewel has it all. If the Type 57 was the supercar of its day, the 57C was the hypercar. This car is one of only sixteen ‘Compresseur’ (supercharger) Atalante variants ever produced, capable of reaching a top speed of 120mph, in an era when 50mph was the reality for most cars.
The 57C’s unmistakable art deco lines, designed by Jean Bugatti, were fashioned by the fabled Swiss/French coachbuilder Gangloff. Its original aluminum coachwork, fitted to only five of the 57C cars, has been retained, as has its interior, with great measures taken to preserve its original finishes.
This stunning matching-numbers motorcar has outstanding provenance as it was the 1938 Paris Salon exhibition display car in the city’s Grand Palais. However, it has been largely out of the public eye for much of its life, firstly being hidden when the Second World War broke out. The 57C was then kept in a private collection 60 years by the previous owner who, having used it extensively when he first acquired it in 1954, then stored it in a heated garage at his chateau.
Not having turned a wheel for many years, it was purchased in 2014 by the vendor, himself an esteemed European collector, who sent it to the French Bugatti specialist, Ets Randoni, to be re-commissioned mechanically in order to pass the French contrôle technique (roadworthiness test).
The 57C is now offered publicly for the very first time, complete with factory letters from Ettore Bugatti himself, and a report by respected Bugatti authority, Pierre-Yves Laugier. It has an estimate of $2,800,000 – 3,400,000.
Jakob Greisen, Bonhams Head of US Motoring, said: “Art deco Bugattis are no strangers to Monterey Car Week but we are delighted to be offering this jewel of a car – which is the perfect headliner for our 25th anniversary sale. We are sure it will be ripe for the Pebble Beach Concours in future years.”
Lining up with the Bugatti on the lawns of the Quail Lodge and Golf Club will be another of its Art Deco contemporaries, a 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Testa Fissa Two-Seater Sports. An ultra-rare version of the model named for its ‘Fixed Head’ cylinder head which was designed to better withstand the pressures of racing. It is thought that only a dozen of these Alfas were so equipped.
This car was built for its first owner Sir Ronald Stewart, to be raced by him and Captain George Eyston, featuring unique streamlined coachwork designed by Eyston. The Alfa was raced extensively by the duo at Brooklands, including setting a national Class E 12-hour record averaging 94mph, and at the 500 Mile Race in 1930.
Like the Bugatti, the 6C was formerly in long-term ownership of 55 years, with noted collector Ian Gunn. The car passed to the current owner in 2008 and has since received a comprehensive restoration to its original guise, later being shown at the prestigious Concours of Elegance in the UK and Amelia Island in the US. It has an estimate of $1,600,000 – 1,800,000.
The silver anniversary Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction will take place on Friday August 19 as a live auction, with telephone, internet and Bonhams App bids all welcome.
All lots will be available to view at Quail Lodge on Wednesday August 17, 9am to 6pm; Thursday August 18, 9am to 6pm and Friday sale day, from 8.30am.
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