Hidden Bugatti Type 57S Sells For £3.6M In London

1937 Bugatti Type 57S
1937 Bugatti Type 57S - estimate: £5,000,000 – 7,000,000.

An amazing 1937 Bugatti Type 57S 3.3-Litre Four-Seat Sports Grand Routier ‘Dulcie’ which has been hidden and off the road for the last 50 years has sold for £3.6 million on 19 February 2021.

Only 42 of these magnificent Bugatti Type 57S cars were ever produced on a limited run at the Molsheim factory and were powered by 3.3-litre, twin-overhead-camshaft straight-8 cylinder engine with dry-sump lubrication, magneto ignition and without a supercharger.

Unlike the taller and heavier standard Type 57, its rear axle was mounted in a forwards position above two leaf springs, passing through two large apertures in the chassis members rather than fitted below, significantly lowering the stance of the car which increased its road-holding capabilities in relation to the heavier standard Type 57. The ‘S’ is now generally accepted in recognition of ‘surbaissé’ – the French term for ‘low’ or ‘lowered’. The alternative ‘Sport’ is also widely applied.

Ettore Bugatti Plate

The rediscovered ‘original’ Bugatti (chassis: ‘57503’) has been in single ownership for over half a century and stored in the North Staffordshire workshop of its late owner, respected engineer and Bugattiste Bill Turnbull, the British bodied rarity is said to be in ‘exceptionally original condition‘ and is one of the world’s most valuable and desirable pre-war motor cars.

Originally ordered new by Robert Ropner, a member of the Ropner Shipping Line family, from renowned London dealership Jack Barclay, the classic 57S was a custom-built 4-seater sports Grand Routier body fashioned by the celebrated coachbuilders Corsica of London and powered by a 3.3-litre engine, making it the fastest road car of its day.

Bugatti Type 57S Gallery

Wearing the British registration of ‘DUL 351’ with pride, the car was affectionately named Dulcie by its owner and has been identified as having a chassis of only three special lightweight frames produced for the 1936 season of Grand Prix winning and multiple world-record-breaking Bugatti works Type 57G Tank streamlined sports-racing cars, the factory racing derivative of the 57S.

Mr Turnbull made contact with all four previous owners soon after purchasing the car, then proceeded to begin a full and thorough restoration in his workshop, which was almost complete up until his untimely death.

Remarkably, ‘57503’ is also the last known surviving unrestored example sporting the Type 57S Corsica coachwork – preserved and conserved since new in 1937 – its intrinsic being, its chassis frame, has ex-works-team Bugatti racing history.

Type 57S Corsica coachwork
Type 57S Corsica coachwork

The missing Bugatti being offered is said to be largely intact with black paintwork, cream leather interior and original coachwork and in exceptionally rare condition with an estimate of £5,000,000 – 7,000,000.

Sholto Gilbertson, Director, Bonhams Motor Cars UK, said:
This really is an extraordinary example of one of the most valuable and desirable pre-war motor cars. Other 57S Bugattis are in museums or known collections, and to offer the car to the open market for the first time since 1969 is going to be tremendous.

This could well be the last ‘hidden’ pre-war Bugatti of note and we are delighted to present this rediscovered true legend of the road next year at New Bond Street.

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Bugatti Trio

The discovery follows an earlier ‘Passion of a Lifetime’ sale in which a Bugatti trio of prewar masterpieces including an incredible King Leopold 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports, 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante and remarkable 1928 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix, sold for a staggering £21,325,000 at Hampton Court Palace in September this year.


The Bugatti Type 59S accounted for £9,535,000 of the trio sale

More information and results on the Legends of the Road Sale can be found here

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