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1937 Bugatti Type 57S sells for £4m at Bonhams’ latest Bond St sale

1937 Bugatti Type 57S sells for £4m at Bonhams’ latest Bond St sale 22nd February 2021

It fell short of its broad £5m to £7m pre-sale estimate, but the magnetic attraction of a No Reserve estate sale saw strong bidding over the telephones last Friday for the elegant Corsica-bodied Bugatti Type 57S.

All six motor car entries sold, though the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS was moved on for an undisclosed sum before proceedings commenced. Which was just as well, with the car’s history of non-matching engine and time spent on the British hillclimb circuit in the 1970s with a fastback-style hardtop and 5.0-litre V12 from a written-off 500 Superfast.

The Bugatti Type 57S was complete but needed its never-ending restoration finished. The eventual result was a disappointment for an attractive car with desirable surbaissé (‘S’, or ‘lowered)’ frame and a good history in the UK. Four-seater coachwork is less prized than that of a more fashionable two-seater, but the car looked elegant in its British Corsica coachwork and ran – so the catalogue describes – “on works Bugatti 'Tank' streamliner chassis rails”. It lacked a supercharger – making it an ‘SC’ – but very few cars were so-equipped when new. Compare this car’s all-in price of around $5.4m with the $9,735,000 paid in March 2016 for a less overtly sporting Vanden Plas-bodied Type 57SC, also requiring restoration.

Well bought, we say. As was the charming and event-eligible 1934 Frazer Nash TT Replica (est. £200k to £300k) that sold for £220k net, £253k gross.

The other big-hitter in Bond St did do well. Estimated at £1.4m to £1.8m, the right-hand drive 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT was another car mid-restoration, this time needing more work to finish the project. In a market packed with similar cars for sale, £1.975m including Bonhams’ chunky premium was a good result. Add £300k or so at a good UK specialist such as Aston Engineering or RS Williams and you’ve got a fine DB4 GT in as-delivered Snow Shadow Grey with its original red hide interior.

Gooding sold a LHD, ready-to-run and superlative DB4 GT for £2.75m in early February 2021, and that’s where the prices are right now: £2.25m RHD, £2.75m for far rarer LHD, both values for perfect cars restored by recognised UK specialists with no major accident damage.

Bonhams ‘Legends of the Road’ in Bond St, 19 February 2021 – results

Total gross cars: £6,399,200
Number of cars not sold: 0
Number of cars withdrawn: 0
Total number of cars: 6
Number sold: 6
Percentage cars sold by number: 100%
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 64%
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 50%
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 67%
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 0%
Average value of cars sold: £1,066,533
Average year of cars offered: 1944
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 50%

Photo by Bonhams