Bugatti Type 57sc Atlantic
The Bugatti Type 57sc Atlantic is a pre-war classic car produced by the celebrated French manufacturer Bugatti between 1935 and 1937.
The car was personally styles by Jean Bugatti, son of the company’s founder Ettore. It began life in 1935 as a single prototype known as the Aerolithe, which made its debut at the Paris Motor Show of that year.
It was instantly hailed as remarkable, with its art deco styling, teardrop-shaped body, lightweight construction and top speed of 123mph. However, despite the grand reception it received only three orders were placed with the company. These models were the only three of their kind ever produced, and each has a unique history.
The first model to be produced was purchased by Lord Philippe de Rothschild of London in 1936. After soon changing hands the next owner returned it to the French factory to be supercharged, and a subsequent owner in Los Angeles named Bob Oliver drastically modified it after World War II.
It was next purchased in 1971 by Dr Peter D. Williamson, who spent years restoring it to its original factory specifications before winning best in show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2003.
In 2010 the car was sold during a Gooding and Company auction to an anonymous bidder for a World Record price of up to $30 million (although the exact price was never released).
As of June 2011 it remains the most expensive car ever sold at auction, and is on display at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California.
The second model was purchased by a French couple in 1936, but by 1937 it had been returned to the factory. Records show that it was once again returned in 1939 for remodelling work, but after this the history of the vehicle is unknown. Rumours remain that the vehicle was damaged in a train crash in the 1950s, but no record of this or the car’s whereabouts remain.
This model was purchased in 1936 by R.B. Pope of London, before being returned to the factory in 1939 to be supercharged. It was later owned by the British author Barry Price during the 1960s, and the American venture capitalist Tom Perkins.
Perkins then sold the vehicle to the American fashion designer and notable car collector Ralph Lauren, and it remains in his collection. Lauren commissioned a complete restoration of the car using original parts, and in 1990 it was exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance where it won best of show.