Talking about the most expensive car in the world is talking about Bugatti. And without distinction of times. Currently, the title is held La Voiture Noir, presented in 2019, and for which it is believed that 18.7 million dollars were paid. Both its real price and its owner are unknown, which of course enhances the myth. It is believed that he may be resting in Cristiano Ronaldo’s garage or in boxer Floyd Mayweather’s.
But also the Bugatti tradition breaks records in the majestic world of classic cars. A unique jewel of the French brand, with no less than 90 years of history, has just become a record for the value that was paid at auction in the United Kingdom: no less than 12.6 million dollars. Is about the most expensive collectible Bugatti ever sold, a Type 59 Sports from 1934, which was part of the brand’s competition team in the mid-30s. Beyond the exorbitant figures that are handled in the universe of the most precious classics, a fact of reality accounts for the tremendous value of this specimen only: worth what four Chiron cost, the model from which the version that was installed as the fastest production car on the planet (Chiron Super Sport 300+) emerges.
What is it that brings so much value to this Bugatti Type 59? In the first place, the context in which it competed: the 1930s with the flourishing of European motorsport, in the heyday of pre-war and with the most incipient brands shaping their profiles as automotive companies. Bugatti was already at that time a company that created great racing cars, and the glory was disputed with German and Italian firms.
As the official racing team vehicle of the firm, that Type 59 also was piloted by René Dreyfus, one of the most talented flyers of the time. The pilot of Jewish origin was the protagonist of one of the most memorable feats in world competition. With a Delahaye (also French brand) ended the Nazi reign in motorsports. That huge setback for the Third Reich occurred in 1938, when Dreyfus managed to beat the hegemonics, until that moment, the Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz, which had the full support of the Führer.
Before that feat, the driver had built his career with cars from other brands, for example Bugatti. With the Type 59 he achieved third place at the Monaco Grand Prix and victory at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Years 34 and 35 were the brightest of the model, which competed until 1937. A year later it was bought by King Leopold III of Belgium, then passed through the hands of four other owners until today.
This Type 59 also bases its value on its immaculate condition: the King of Belgium painted it black, but the successive owners kept it in its original condition, and thus it reached the auction that took place at the beginning of September. It retains its 3.25 eight-cylinder in-line engine with two Zenith carburettors, the four-speed manual gearbox and drum brakes, among other components.
The one in charge of selling this record Bugatti was the auction house Gooding & Company, which not only scored this milestone, but also the one to complete the transaction of another jewel of the French brand: a Bugatti Type 57S Atalante from 1937. That model, of which only 17 copies were made between 1934 and 1940, was bought for just over $ 10 million.
The exquisite French convertible is powered by a 3.2-liter in-line eight-cylinder engine with a four-speed manual gearbox. The mechanics are distinguished by their power: it delivers 220 hp at 5,500 rpm. Its first owner was the English racing driver Earl Howe, who was also president of the Bugatti Owners Club, the vehicle became a real attraction at the time when it was exhibited on various British circuits.
For the last 12 years it was in his possession by one Ivan Dutton, Bugatti collector and restoration specialist, who finally decided to put it up for sale. The rest of the world, grateful.