The Classicist: Bugatti's Bugatti & More on Offer at Pebble Beach
Photos by Pawel Litwinski © 2009 Courtesy of Gooding & Company
On August 15 – 16 Gooding & Company is holding its annual auto auction during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The centerpiece of the sale is an incomparable piece of Bugatti history: marque founder Ettore Bugatti's personal 1938 Type 57C Coupe (above), which is expected to fetch several million dollars. Bugatti factory employees originally assembled the car as a birthday present for Mr. Bugatti, and the car's one-off coachwork is believed to be one of the last designs penned by his son, Jean Bugatti, before his death. It's a truly unique piece of automotive history.
Deemed one of its most cherished automobiles, the Bugatti factory went to great lengths to protect the precious vehicle during World War II when its premises were in danger. After Ettore Bugatti's death in 1947, the car continued to be maintained and stored at the Bugatti workshop in Molsheim, France, where it received upgrades as over the years. These included tailored interior accessories, a unique engine and transmission combination and other subtle technical improvements that distinguished it from any other Type 57.
Since leaving the Bugatti factory in the late 1950s, the precious vehicle has had only a few protective caretakers and remains one of the most correct and original Bugattis in existence, untainted by later restoration. The car is being sold without reserve, no doubt to encourage bidding. Last year at Gooding's Pebble Beach sale a rare 1937 Type 57SC Atalante Coupe sold for $7.92 million, setting a record for the highest price ever paid for an automobile at auction in the U.S.A. It remains to be seen what effect the recession may have on the chances of this sale topping that feat.
Gallery: Pebble Beach 2009
In addition to the Bugatti, Gooding is also offering the Don Lyons Collection. Consisting of seven automobiles, the rare collection primarily focuses on Indy racing and spans nearly 80 years of motorsport history. "This significant group of cars is one of the most comprehensive collections of Indy race cars ever to come to auction," notes David Gooding, founder and president of Gooding & Company. "The legacy of each of these cars is extraordinary and their sale is sure to be a thrilling complement to any racing enthusiast's collection."
For more than two decades, Lyons worked to assemble one of the finest collections of American race cars in private hands. Each car in the collection represents a specific milestone in racing history. From the earliest car, a 1909 Stoddard-Dayton Model K re-creation to the most modern, Mario Andretti's famous 1985 Lola T900, the collection traces the history of Indy 500 race cars. Each automobile has been exquisitely restored to its original specifications and is fully operational, a rarity for such advanced racing machinery.