Bugatti Found in Garage After 50 Years Sells for $4 530 000

A rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante sports car is displayed at the Retromobile auto show in Paris on Feb. 6, 2009

Feb. 8 – A Bugatti sports car that was found after 50 years gathering dust in a garage in England sold last night in Paris for 3 500 000 euros ($4 530 000).

The two-seat 1937 Bugatti Atalante 57S coupe was one of 17 vehicles of its type produced by the Italian-based racing-car manufacturer. It had been estimated to fetch between 2 750 000 euros and 4 000 000 euros at the Retromobile sale held by London- based auction house Bonhams. The price included sale fees.

“This was the creme-de-la-creme of late 1930s sports cars,” said Simon Kidston, a Geneva-based classic car adviser, who attended the auction. “Of the examples that have come on the market, this had by far the best history, prettiest body style and no one has seen it for 50 years. Nothing drives collectors more crazy than a car they haven’t been able to buy.”

Bonhams described it as “one of the last great barn discoveries” in an e-mailed statement before the sale.

Harold Carr, a surgeon, owned the Bugatti from 1955 until his death in the spring of 2007. The reclusive doctor, from the northern English city of Newcastle, left his family a lock-up garage and its contents. Dr. Carr’s nephew knew he owned an Aston Martin and a Jaguar E-type sports car and only discovered the partially dismantled Bugatti when he opened the building’s doors. The 130 miles-an-hour coupe has 26,284 miles on the clock and the engine has not been fired up for more than 50 years, said Bonhams.

Racing Aristocrat

The car had originally been made for Earl Howe, a U.K. aristocrat who in 1929 was elected the first president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. Two years later, he won the 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans.

“People were taken aback by the condition,” said Kidston in an interview. “It’s gone a bit too far. Whoever has bought it will probably be looking at a restoration bill of at least 500,000 pounds ($739 000) . It’s a big job, but worth it. That car deserves to be preserved.”

The car was pursued by three telephone bidders and two bidders in the room, said Kidston. “That price was about right. Both the seller and the buyer can feel satisfied.”

In August 2008, another 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante coupe sold for $7 920 000 at Gooding & Co.’s auto auction during the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, according to http://www.luxist.com. It was the highest price paid for an automobile at auction in the U.S., said the Web site.

‘Because there are so few of them, the value of these cars is pretty stable,” said Kidston. “This car is less speculative than the market for 1960s and 1970s Ferraris, though even the prices of those haven’t come down much more than 20 percent in the last 12 months.”

The record price for any car at auction was set in May last year when the U.K. television and radio host Chris Evans paid 7 000 000 euros ($10 900 000) with fees for a black 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder. The sale at Marinello in Italy was run by RM Auctions in association with Sotheby’s. The Ferrari had formerly owned by the movie actor James Coburn.

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Published in: on February 9, 2009 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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