This Bugatti Type 57C Is A Beautiful Living Artifact
Photography Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
To earn the attention of millions of people in 1939 required a huge event, the New York World’s Fair. Countries from around the world set up their own pavilions, showcasing the best each country had to offer. This actual car was one of the main draws toward the French Pavilion; to be selected to represent an entire country is quite a tall order, but the supercharged 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante is no ordinary machine.
It was, in modern terms, a Bugatti Veyron, the likes of which the world would set aside for a few years as it devolved into the Second World War.
Spent with enthusiasts in its early years, the first owner actually swapped the car’s body onto a later and more advanced chassis. From there, it was occasionally raced and enjoyed. John W. Straus, the Macy’s heir, owned and enjoyed the car before storing it from the early ’60s until 2007 when his estate was being settled.
Today, it no longer wears either the admiring gaze of millions of astonished spectators, nor the 45 years of dust accumulated during its storage. Since being sympathetically restored, it’s been seen at a few concours in recent years, and participated in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance.
Good: it’s simply too spectacularly built and too beautiful to sit static. Let’s hope its next owner has a long commute, or at least an itch to drive it around Europe next summer.
– Displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair
– Formerly owned by Al Garthwaite of Algar and John W. Straus of Macy’s
– French “Art Moderne” design at its finest
~160 horsepower, 3,257-cc DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine with Roots-type supercharger, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptical leaf-spring suspension, live rear axle with reversed quarter-elliptical leaf-spring suspension, Houdaille shock absorbers, and four-wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130 in.
Chassis no.: 57766
Engine no.: 57C
Body no.: 32
Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: $8-10 million Usd.
Price realized: TBD; auction on December 10