What makes a classic? The inherent quality of telling something new and relevant across time.
Add technology and the quest for speed, and you get a true classic car; nobody has interpreted this formula better than Ettore Bugatti, the Italian car genius of a family trio of creative masters, with the designer Carlo and the sculptor Rembrandt. Thus it should not come as a surprise that Bugattis regularly feature as top lots at auctions worldwide, where they trade well above the million mark. Like the mythical Phoenix, Bugatti has rebirth from its ashes twice, every time with a distinctive and incomparable combination of technical achievements and beautiful design:
- the beginnings under the founder Ettore Bugatti, and later his sons Jean and Roland, from 1909 to 1956;
- the Modena period under the direction of Romano Artioli, from 1987 to 1995;
- the last 25 years under the VW group, with the production of the Veyron model in 2005.
There is no better way to narrate this fascinating and inspiring history of determination, technology, speed and aesthetic then
presenting the iconic products: four cars of different periods and scopes, somehow representative of the 114 years since the
foundation of the historical factory in Molsheim.
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL RACING MODEL EVER: TYPE 35
Introduced in 1924, the Bugatti Type 35 has won over 2.000 races in the following decade including 5 times the Targa Florio, the most challenging race of those times, and 4 times the Monaco GP.
A well-known exemplar of this car, a 1929 Bugatti Type 35C, raced to the 4th place in the 1929 Monaco GP and previously owned by the Baron George Philippe de Rothschild, preserved for 25 years in the Bart Rosman Collection, has been sold at auction by Artcurial in Paris in February 2023 for 2.2 million Euro.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DESIGN EVER: TYPE 57S ATALANTE
1930s Bugattis are not just fast cars: alongside the GP winners, Ettore’s son Jean developed a series of ‘racers for the road’, slightly less extreme in terms of performances but drivable on normal days. The eight-cylinder car was offered by the factor in five different configurations, of which the Atalante is the most prestigious, and the Sport models the most sought after.
This 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante ‘Howe’ is one of only 17 known; it has a particularly interesting story: it was first sold to Earl Howe, a noble race driver, then disappeared for decades to re-emerge in a garage in the UK where it was left abandoned, and sold by Bonhams at auction in Paris in 2009.
The studding bodywork makes this car one of the most elegant cars ever produced, well deserving the 3.4 million Euro paid in that sale as a ‘barn-find’ condition car. Following an extensive restoration, the same chassis changed ownership again at auction in September 2020, in the debut sale in Europe for Gooding & Co. in Hampton Court near London, for almost 7.9 million £ (circa 10.4 m $): a significant increase due to the intervention, but also a testimony of the growth of the classic car market over the last decade.
ULTRA-RARE AND AHEAD OF ITS TIMES: EB112
The Italian brief period of production in the 1980-90s is usually represented by the extreme sport car EB110, a F1 for the road that had amongst its fans Michael Schumacher, currently trading above the 2 m Euro mark.
There is however an even rarer car: the Bugatti EB 112, a four seater – four doors saloon designed by the magic pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. The style recalls directly the 1930s Bugatti 57S Atalante and the legendary 57SC Atlantic, the rarest Bugatti ever made, creating a directly link between generations.
The ‘all black’ car in these pictures is one of the rarest sight you can spot in Monaco; its originality includes a full set of Bugatti fitted luggage, and an umbrella adorned with a sculpture replica of the elephant conceived by Rembrandt Bugatti, used by his brother to add prestige to the Bugatti ‘Royale’, the most luxurious car of all times.
The forced end of production in 1995 left only 3 examples of this timeless classic, a comfortable car ‘for the family’ reaching 300km/h, a project very much ahead of its times, and a masterpiece of design for a millionaire connoisseur with deep pockets.
FASTER THAN EVER: CHIRON
Following the successes of image and speed of the previous model, the Veyron, Bugatti has surpassed itself with a
car dedicated to the race champion Chiron.
The fastest road car in the world has a top speed electronically limited to 380 km/h, with an incredibly powerful engine paired to a streamlined body that draws upon the centenary tradition of the brand.
On February 1st 2023 the auction house RMSotheby’s has sold in Paris the first and only “pre-series” 2022 Bugatti Chiron Profilée for the record price of 9.8 million Euro. All 500 build slot for the Chiron have been sold, thus making the few already built trading above their factory price.