Hidden treasure: Vintage 1937 Bugatti Type 57S unearthed after HALF A CENTURY off the road to sell at London auction for an estimated £7million
- The Bugatti is one of 42 ever produced and is considered one of the world’s most desirable pre-war classics
- The last owner removed it from the road in 1969 and had kept it in a North Staffordshire workshop ever since
- Following his recent death, the vintage car is being offered as part of his estate to the highest bidder
- It remains in ‘exceptionally rare’ and incredible good condition and is estimated to fetch from £5m to £7m
One of the world’s most valuable and desirable pre-war motor cars has been discovered after 50 years in hiding – and is set to sell for up to a staggering seven-figure sum when offered to collectors at auction in February.
The model in question is a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S, which has been off the road for the past 50 years and its whereabouts and condition relatively unknown.
However, having resurfaced in recent months, the rediscovered treasure will lead an extraordinary sale of exceptional motor cars at Bonhams’ flagship saleroom in London, with a guide price of between £5million and £7million.
Hidden treasure: This 1937 Bugatti is considered one of the most desirable pre-war vintage cars in existence and is due to be sold at a London auction for up to £7million
The Legends of the Road Sale – which takes place on 19 February – will feature the uncovered Bugatti Type 57S, which is one of only 42 produced.
The running order of the beautiful vintage motor has been little known for the last half a century, having remained since 1969 in the North Staffordshire workshop of its late owner, respected engineer and Bugatti fanatic, Bill Turnbull.
However, the car was unearthed following the recent death of Mr Turnbull and his estate reviewed.
It has been kept in exceptionally original condition, mechanically restored to its late owner’s exacting standards and effectively only in need of some final re-assembly.
The 1937 Bugatti Type 57S has been off the road for the past 50 years and kept in a private collection in a North Staffordshire workshop
The vehicle will be offered to the highest bidder as part of the last owner’s estate following their death this year
As you can see from the images of the vintage motor, it has been kept in exceptionally original condition and mechanically restored to its late owner’s exacting standards
The 57S – ‘S’ standing for ‘Surbaissé’, translating from French to ‘Lowered’ – was originally ordered new by Robert Ropner, a member of the Ropner Shipping Line family, from renowned London dealership Jack Barclay.
Ropner specified a custom-built four-seater sports Grand Routier body fashioned by the celebrated coachbuilders Corsica of London to envelope its powerful 3.3-litre engine, which made the 57S the fastest road car of its day with a top speed in the region of 115mph.
The car was given the charming period nickname of ‘Dulcie’ due to its British registration number ‘DUL 351’.
With the success of the marque on the racetrack during the golden era of the 1930s, Bugatti sports cars were regarded as Grand Prix cars for the road and were often the off-duty transport for leading racing drivers.
The classic Bugatti is powerful 3.3-litre engine, which made the 57S the fastest road car of its day with a top speed in the region of 115mph
It is offered to the highest bidder in February with almost perfect black paintwork, cream leather interior and original coachwork
Everything about the car is totally originally and respectfully restored by the last keeper, who was a Bugatti enthusiast
Fittingly, the car’s second owner was Rodney Clarke – founder of the post war British Connaught Grand Prix racing team.
What makes this example particularly special is that the chassis has been identified as one 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.
Soon after buying the 57S in 1969, Mr Turnbull corresponded with all four previous owners and, after a short period of use, stripped it down in his workshop to embark upon a full restoration to his own painstakingly high standards. His work was almost complete at the time of his death.
The Bugatti remained until recently in the very same workshop.
It is offered to the highest bidder with almost perfect black paintwork, cream leather interior and original coachwork.
The Bugatti will form the centrepiece of the Legends of the Road Bonhams sale, which is hosted in London on 19 February 2021 and will feature an exclusive array of exceptional motor cars next year
What makes this example particularly special is that the chassis has been identified as one of only three special lightweight frames produced for the 1936 Grand Prix season. It was used by the multiple world record-breaking Bugatti works Type 57G Tank streamlined sports-racing cars, the factory racing derivative of the 57S
Bonhams said the car will be sold in ‘exceptionally rare condition’ with a particularly fascinating and well-documented history file.
Sholto Gilbertson, the auctioneer’s director, 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.’
The Bugatti will form the centrepiece of the Legends of the Road Sale which will feature an exclusive array of exceptional motor cars next year.