Molsheim Masterpiece at Bonhams

Concours-Restored Bugatti Leads Amelia Island Auction

The entrants in this year's Amelia Island Concours will have strong competition from a motoring masterpiece offered by Bonhams at its annual Florida sale on March 2.

A 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Sports Tourer, with unique coachwork by Vanden Plas fully and lovingly restored to its former glory - and itself a past winner in the prestigious concours - will lead the Bonhams auction. It has an estimate of $10,000,000 – 12,000,000.

Around 1,200 manhours in 2016/17 were devoted to the sensitive refurbishment of this magnificent machine, bringing it back to its original specification when it was delivered new to New York – the only Type 57S to arrive on American shores as a new car.

Originality and authenticity were the highest priority for specialist automotive historian Evan Ide who led the project. He wanted to ensure that this 57S was not over restored, nor the hand of the original craftsman who built it erased from the car. As part of this passion project, meticulous research was carried out to make sure the smallest details were correct. With regards to its one-off Vanden Plas coachwork, the edges of the fenders were rebuilt to their original subtle lines that visually lower the car and give it a feeling of motion.

The coachwork was also brought back to its original colour using period nitrocellulose paint which will age softly, while the top was specially made in a cotton-based material also designed to fade and weather like the original over time. Much effort was made to ensure that all hardware was the original produced at Bugatti's Molsheim factory, including the fasteners, which were designed and manufactured inhouse – a rare practice for the time.

The Type 57S's wonderfully authentic appearance complements its originality under the hood. With no mechanical modifications, this matching-numbers automobile drives like it should - a Grand Prix racer in touring car guise. With its 3.3 litre engine delivering 200hp, matched by its light weight 2000lbs build, the Bugatti is swift by modern standards – in its day, Jean Bugatti's creation was the fastest road-going performance car.

This Type 57S is a rare jewel, as one of only 48 ever produced. The opportunity to acquire one is even rarer, considering that many are in long term ownerships or institutional collections such as the celebrated Schlumpf Collection.

Rupert Banner, Global Head of Specialists, Bonhams Collector Cars, said: "We're honored to have been entrusted with this remarkable sports Bugatti. Open examples of the Type 57S rarely appear on the market, let alone in such condition. Having been restored to modern and yet sympathetic standards of accuracy and authenticity, it offers a truly lasting way to experience one of the legends of the immediate pre-war era.

"As more of these cars retreat into long term private or institutional collections, this may be the chance of a generation to own it."

Bonhams Amelia Island Auction, the house's first East Coast collector car sale of 2023, offers more than 100 collector cars – with more than 50% offered at no reserve - representing the great international marques from Duesenberg, American grand dame of the roaring Twenties, to contemporary Teutonic supercars from Audi, Mercedes AMG and Porsche.

Highlights include:

1992 Ferrari F40, estimate $2,900,000-3,400,000. One of the spiritual successors to the Bugatti is the F40, another racing car for the road and the final Ferrari to be overseen by company founder Enzo. This red-on-red example is one of 213 US-delivery F40s and has covered fewer than 8,600 miles from new.

1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series 2, estimate $1,000,000-1,500,000, No Reserve. Considered the ultimate Ferrari in terms of performance, luxury and style, only 48 of the aerodynamic Superfast models were produced. This highly original Series 2 example, formerly kept in the collections of James Leake and John Mozart, has covered fewer than 14,300 miles from new.

The Hendricks Jaguar Collection
This 'secret' collection of important classic and racing Jaguars was collected by known Jaguar connoisseur Thomas C. Hendricks. Publicly seen for the first time in 20 years, the cache includes LT3, one of three 1951 Jaguar Works-built lightweight aluminum racing XK120s, estimate $400,000-600,000, raced to victory by US racing driver and Formula 1 Champion Phil Hill.

The sale, hosted by the Fernandina Beach Golf Club, takes place on Thursday March 2, with viewing on Wednesday March 1 and on the sale day.

For further details, contact: [email protected] for more details.


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