Despite unprecedented circumstances, five historic Bugatti Molsheim masterpieces were the most valuable vehicles sold at auction internationally in 2020, breaking records at each of the auction houses selling them.
Never before have the five most expensive cars sold at auction been produced by a single manufacturer which was achieved by leading auctioneers Gooding & Company and Bonhams.
Bugatti exclusivity has never been questioned with age and integrity leading to increased value and desirability; especially those from the Ettore and Jean Bugatti era in their original condition and accompanied with a history of racing.
Gooding & Company’s ‘Passion of a Lifetime’ auction at Hampton Court Palace was hailed a major success with 14 of the 15 cars sold and eight of the vehicles topping a staggering US$1 million. Incredibly, £21,325,000 of the total sales was achieved by three single Bugattis in the rescheduled September 2020 sale.
“This year certainly presented challenges, but it opened the door for Gooding & Company to create new opportunities to maintain our connection with our automotive community and enthusiasts around the world. We held our first-ever UK sale which set many new records that include selling the most expensive Bugatti at public auction and selling the top two most valuable lots of 2020; the 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports and the 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante
Bugatti Type 59 Sports (Chassis 57248)
The 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports wearing chassis number 57248 was auctioned for £9,535,000 at Gooding & Company in London in September 2020, making it one of the most expensive Bugattis ever to come under the hammer at a public auction. The Bugatti Type 59 Sports was created as a racing car for the Bugatti Grand Prix factory team and won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, later finishing third in the Monaco Grand Prix. Some of the most famous and successful Bugatti racing drivers were at the wheel of this car – including Robert Benoist, Louis Chiron, René Dreyfus, Achille Varzi and Jean-Pierre Wimille. After the successful racing season, Bugatti converted the Type 59 into a sports car. King Leopold of Belgium purchased it in 1937.
Bugatti Type 57S Atalante (Chassis 57502)
A 1937 Type 57S Atalante with the chassis number 57502 was also sold for an incredible £7,855,000. It is a genuinely distinctive model that was purchased by British racing driver and Bugatti enthusiast Earl Howe in 1937. The Bugatti Type 57S Atalante is one of only 17 cars that Jean Bugatti fitted with his sensational Atalante body. The power unit is a turbocharged 3.3-litre eight-cylinder engine that delivers an output of up to 175 PS in the Type 57S.
Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport Roadster (Chassis 55220)
A rare 1932 Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport Roadster with a factory body designed by Jean Bugatti fetched $7.1 million at Bonhams’ Amelia Island auction in March 2020. Bugatti produced a total of just 38 Type 55 Super Sport chassis up until 1935. Eleven of the 14 roadster-bodied vehicles built by Jean Bugatti are still in existence today.
Bugatti Type 35C (Chassis 4871)
Another rarity sold was a Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix dating from 1928 fetching £3,935,000 at a Gooding & Company auction in London – a record for the Type 35. This car with the chassis number 4871 was originally built for the Targa Florio 1928. The first private owner was Jannine Jennky, a French racing driver who drove it to overall victory in the first-ever Coupe de Bourgogne in Dijon. Now more than 90 years old, the vehicle had only four owners after 1932. It remains in its original, unrestored condition.
Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport (Chassis 55221)
A rare ‘one of 29 remaining’ Bugatti Type 55 was sold at Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais sale in 2020 for $5.07 million. This made the vehicle with the chassis number 55221 the most expensive car to be sold at one of the Rétromobile 2020 auctions. This is an outstanding vehicle: Louis Chiron and Count Guy Bouriat-Quintart co-drove it as a factory racing car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1932.
Bugattis are still considered the most valuable cars of all time with prices increasing year on year for highly desirable models such as the Atlantic.
Between 1936 and 1938, only four of the Type 57 SC Atlantic were produced, three of which still exist after more than 80 years. The fourth and final Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic is considered the Amber Room of the automotive world and is still missing today…
If the second Atlantic were ever to be found, its speculative value is said to be around €100,000,000.