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Bugatti 57SC Sports Tourer sells for $9.7million

Pre-war supercharged Bugatti 57SC Sports Tourer with one-off coachwork by Vanden Plas sold for $9,735,000 at Bonhams’ Amelia Island auction.


Taking place on 10 Thursday, Bonhams Amelia Island auction saw a sale rate of 68 per cent and total sales of $27.5m. A large proportion of that total came from the sale of a rather special 1937 Bugatti 57SC Sports Tourer, featuring one-off coachwork by Vanden Plas, which made $9,735,000.

Although it didn’t quite match the $11m-$13m pre-sale estimate, this incredibly rare pre-war Bugatti was fiercely contested, and is now the most expensive Bugatti ever sold at auction, as well as the most valuable pre-war car to sell at Amelia Island.

Bugatti Type 57SC models rarely come up for auction, and chassis number 57541 was featured in the company’s catalogue, and also represented the firm at the London Motor Show at Olympia. Bonhams states that this example is also well researched and documented by marque experts, and is described as being in ‘impressive mechanical, structural and cosmetic condition’.

Mechanically speaking, the Type 57SC is a work of art, and many consider it to be one of the best pre-war automobiles. Featuring a sophisticated surbaissé low-slung chassis, dry sump lubrication and distinct V-shaped radiator, it’s effectively a racing car built for road use.

When it was new, the Bugatti was certainly an impressive machine. The special one-off body made it perfect for touring, with a spot of competition on the side. Early motorsport successes include a race in New York and, following World War II, in Trinidad. In the words of Bugatti historian, Pierre-Yves Laugier, its owner ‘made the XK120 Jaguars pay dearly… reaching speeds of 180 km/h (112 mph).’

A couple of other significant results at the Bonhams auction was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet, which sold to an American collector for $2,970,000, as well as a $2.75m 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4.

James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director commented: ‘Our Amelia Island auction once again reaffirmed that there is a strong appetite for interesting, rare and fresh to market motorcars. These cars attracted multiple bidding battles to produce record and near record prices. I was also equally pleased to note that readily available models attracted continued interest as long as they were priced accordingly.’

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