- Photos: Bonhams

Super rare Bugatti Type 57S breathes again after half a century locked away

After more than 50 years tucked away, it's time for this incredibly rare and truly stunning machine to get a new lease on life.

5w ago

After 51 years hidden away in one continuous ownership, one very rare Bugatti is looking for a new home with an owner looking to restore it to its former glory.

The car in question, a stunning 1937 Type 57 Surbaisse, is set to be auctioned off by Bonhams at the upcoming Legends of the Road Sale on February 19, and certainly has quite the unique history behind it.

One of only 42 ever produced, this particular car's original owner – Robert Ropner of the Ropner Shipping Line family – originally specified it with a Grand Routier body designed by Corsica of Cricklewood, a 3.3-litre twin-cam engine that made it the fastest road car of its day, and one of only three special lightweight chassis originally made specifically for the 1936 French Grand Prix-winning Type 57G.

Fittingly, then, its second owner was Rodney Clarke, future principal of the British Connaught Grand Prix team, who later sold it to engineer Bill Turnbull who was its custodian for the past half a century and had kickstarted the restoration process, although the new owner will need to be the one who takes it across the line.

Bonhams describes the quality of it as "astonishingly original", with it still featuring the original coachwork and interior, and even the original black paint is described as being "largely intact".

Being such an incredibly rare specimen, the auction house is well aware of its importance, with Bonhams Director Sholto Gilbertson noting that, "This really is an extraordinary example of one of the most valuable and desirable pre-war motor cars.

"Other 57S Bugattis are in museums or known collections, and to offer the car to the open market for the first time since 1969 is going to be tremendous.

"This could well be the last 'hidden' pre-war Bugatti of note and we are delighted to present this rediscovered true legend of the road next year at New Bond Street."

Given its sheer rarity, it's expected to fetch between a whopping £5-7 million when it crosses the auction block next month, although it is being offered without reserve.

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Comments (8)

  • The older the better.

      1 month ago
  • Old is Gold!

      1 month ago
  • The classic because I don't like modern Bugatti's and I really like old Bugattis

      1 month ago
  • Either would be astonishingly difficult to own and drive regularly in today's world. Each would be an expensive proposition to take to a track, and enjoy a track day. And either would be soul-crushing to crash on either on the street or at the track. And each would provide it's own version of fun, best enjoyed amongst its peers. That said, I think I would take the Type 57S, using the tie-breaker of value as an investment. Luckily, this is a problem I will never have to actually deal with.

      1 month ago
  • If I won the lottery these would be my choice of cars, these hand built beauties were built with passion n joy I bet they raced to work everyday with excitement

      1 month ago