The Bugatti Type 57C is as rare as it is beautiful, with just 710 built between 1934 and 1940. They’re all highly collectible and frightfully expensive, but this 1936 model is just a little more so because it is the car Ettore Bugatti himself drove.
The car goes on the block during the super-glitzy Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August, and auction officials think the final bid could top the record-setting $12.1 million paid last month for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
And like that stunning Ferrari, Bugatti’s Bugatti has a rich history.
This particular 57 is standard fare from the factory in Molsheim, France, which is to say it’s beautiful. It features a 3.2-liter straight-eight under that long beautiful bonnet - Ettore loved the straight eight - and a luxuriously appointed interior. The car is unusual for its bright green on black two-tone paint job. Most Bugattis were French racing blue, Ettore being quite the nationalists, you know. Odd, given that he was an Italian ex-pat.
Factory employees built Chassis No. 57335 as a birthday present for Le Patron’s 55th birthday. His son Jean penned the one-off body and it is believed to be among the last of his designs. The car was jealously cherished by the company, which went to great pains to protect the car from the Germans during World War II. After Ettore’s death in 1947, the car returned the factory and was meticulously maintained.
The car has has no more than a few owners since it left the factory for the last time in 1950, and not one of them has changed the car in any significant way. It is entirely original and much the same as when Ettore last drove it. Like that amazing Type 57S Atalante Coupe that was found in a barn and auctioned for $4.53 million in February, this car may be one of the best original-condition Bugattis left on the planet.