1932 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster to auction at Pebble Beach
A rare Bugatti Roadster regarded as arguably the finest in existence will hit the auction block in California next month, as part of the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach sale.
The 1932 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster is one of the rarest and most desirable Bugattis ever produced, and comes with both a unique racing provenance and a storied history.
Jean Bugatti produced just 38 examples of the Type 55 from 1931 to 1936, with only 14 finished with Roadster coachwork. The car offered here, chassis 55213, was finished in April1932, just the second example ever built.
Along with its remarkable rarity, the car also holds the honour of being the only Type 55 ever competed in the famous Italian open road race, the Mille Miglia.
With the legendary Bugatti factory driver Achille Varzi behind the wheel, along with his co-pilot Count Luigi Castelbarco, the car left the starting line as one of two team cars in the 1932 race – but after a good start was forced to retire, when a small rock punctured its fuel tank beyond repair.
Following its brief racing history the car remained in company ownership, registered just a few miles from the Bugatti factory in Molsheim, where it was reportedly kept for Jean Bugatti’s personal use.
Many believe the car's first private owner to have been French artist Andre Derain, co-founder of the Fauvist movement, who owned several Bugattis during his life including a Type 55 Roadster during this same time period.
It was certainly later owned by Georges Metz, a lifelong friend of Jean Bugatti, and passed through the hands of several renowned French collectors until 2008, when it was acquired and renovated from the frame up by Swiss connoisseur Peter Livanos.
According to an official report compiled by noted Bugatti historian David: "Overall this is a truly outstanding example of the highly sought-after Type 55 Jean Bugatti roadster. It retains most if not all of its original component parts with matching numbers throughout, including that of its coachwork…. Accordingly this car must surely rank amongst the very best of surviving Type 55 Bugattis, indeed it may well be the finest of them all."
The historic car, with close ties to both its pioneering designer and one of Europe's most famous racing events, is now expected to sell for $10 – 14 million.
The Gooding & Company Pebble Beach sale takes place at the Pebble Beach Equestrian centre on August 20-21.
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