The Bugatti Type 57S is another racing car for the road but even rarer (only 42 produced) and even more revered. The example in the sale, a 1937 open grand tourer with four-seater body by London coachbuilders Corsica, has been off the road in a Staffordshire workshop since 1969. But it is a lot closer to completion than the Aston.
The car’s nut and bolt restoration became the life’s work of its owner, the engineer and Bugatti aficionado Bill Turnbull. At the time of his death the work was almost complete, Bonhams offering the car in the online sale as an “advanced project needing only some final re-assembly”.
With a provenance that includes a lightweight chassis from one of the Bugatti “Tank” GP racecars and former owners who include Rodney Clarke, founder of the Connaught grand prix team, Bonhams had thought it might reach £5m or more but on the day it went to its new owner for a total of £4,047,000.
It was another Bugatti auction highlight in what has been an exceptional 12 months for the marque, the French classics taking all top five spots for most valuable cars – together about £30m worth – to sell at auction in 2020.
All the cars on offer in Bonhams’ Live and Online Legends of the Road sale sold. Next most valuable lot was a 1934 Frazer Nash TT Replica, one of only 85 examples, which sold for £253,000.
Images courtesy of Bonhams.