Ultra-rare Bugatti fetches $4.4 million

Bonham’s photo

An ultra-rare Bugatti that was recently discovered in a garage in Great Britain for 50 years sold at an auction in Paris for about $4.4 million Friday.

The 1937 Bugatti Type 57S changed hands at Bonhams’ Retromobile car show and sale in Paris for a 3.4 million euros. The previous owner had been Dr. Harold Carr, whose family sold the car after his death. Carr, who died in 2007, was an orthopedic surgeon who drove the car for several years, but he stopped driving it and put the car in storage in the early 1960s. It was stored in his garage in Gosforth, near Newcastle in northern England.

The was originally owned by Earl Howe, a famous British racer car driver. Following World War II, , the Type 57S was sold through Continental Cars to a Mr J. P. Tingay in 1947. Tingay brought the car to "SC" specification by fitting a Marshall K200 supercharger. M. H. Ferguson bought the car from Tingay in 1950. By 1954 it was part of Lord Ridley’s collection. Carr then acquired it in 1955.

The Bugatti Type 57S was perhaps the  ultimate pre-war sports car. Its production run was but brief as manufacturing costs were too high, however, Mechanical excellence was achieved by fitting a modified crank case with dual oil pumps and dry sump lubrication. High-compression pistons gave the new engine a significant performance edge and the clutch was reinforced to cope with the extra output. Ignition was by a Scintilla Vertex magneto driven from the left-hand camshaft. The fundamental difference between the 57S and the standard 57 cars however lay in the frame design. The new low-slung frame featured a shorter wheelbase, the rear axle passing through the frame, while de Ram shock absorbers provided damping cleverly engineered to increase with speed.

Not all of the car’s history was known. It apparently took seven months to build after it was ordered, and changed hands at least twice.

According to Bonham’s, "It seems likely that 15th June 1937 would be the correct date of first registration as no doubt Howe was eager to road test his new car, having ordered it some seven months previously. At an early stage Howe equipped 57502 with distinctive rear view mirrors, a luggage rack on the tail and replacing the split front bumper with a single bumper and adding a similar rear bumper."

Bonham’s also noted that the car came with a standing invitation for the new owner at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

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