Victorious in races throughout Europe in the 1920s, Ettore Bugatti made some alterations to the legendary Buggati Type 45 and created the arguably even more beautiful Type 55. Now, this legendary example of early Italian automotive beauty is set to go up for auction by Gooding & Company.
First constructed by Bugatti in 1931, the car was limited to just 38 units that were each manufactured during the Type 55’s four-year production timeframe.
With a particularly rich heritage, the example set for auction was in fact owned by the French aristocrat Duc de la Tremoille. Thereafter, it was purchased by Dr. Peter Williamson, a known Bugatti collector, before it was ultimately acquired by a restoration house in 2012 that saw the example brought back to its original beauty.
The example has many unique features that are exclusive to the Type 55, such as a special louver design that offsets the factory GP-style hood. This bonnet houses a highly powerful, twin-cam inline-eight engine with an output of 130-horsepower. The yellow-tinted headlights ensure that this car is as authentic as it is possible to be in terms vintage racers.
The lot will be offered at the Scottsdale, Arizona Gooding & Co. auction Jan. 19-20. A truly fine example of vintage automotive technology, it’s expected to grab anything from $4 million to $5 million.
According to the Gooding & Company website: “The 1931 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster is one of the most coveted pre-war sports cars. Jean Bugatti developed the sensational Type 55 Roadster as a world-class sports car to appeal to Bugatti’s most discerning clients. Under the beautiful body lies the same chassis utilized in the 16-cylinder Type 45 and Type 47 Grand Prix race cars, and under the hood beats a twin overhead cam supercharged eight-cylinder engine that produces 130 bhp.”
“The Bugatti Type 55 Roadster on offer, chassis 55201, is the very first of only 38 Type 55 examples ever built. This was the car that debuted the model and was shown at the 1931 Paris Auto Show. Delivered new to Duc de la Tremoille, a member of one of the oldest families of French nobility, the car would then go on to be owned by famed Bugatti enthusiast and collector Dr. Peter Williamson for over 40 years. It is reported to have been his favorite Bugatti for road use. Being the first example built, chassis 55201 has unique features not seen on later examples, such as the Grand Prix-style hood that has shortened louvers on the side and diagonal louvers cut into the top of the hood.”
“Beautifully restored by a marque specialist in 2012, chassis 55201 went on to win the French Cup at The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance following its restoration. Even more amazing, this historically significant Bugatti still retains its original chassis and matching-numbers engine, and it offers an amazing value for such a significant Type 55.”
Indeed, the forthcoming auction is sure to spike interest among wealthy collectors and connoisseurs the world over, not only in the United States. Such a rare, beautiful example of early 20th-century automotive engineering will be sure to fetch a handsome price at auction, what remains to be seen is exactly how handsome a sum that may be.