The 1937 Bugatti Type 57S originally owned by Earl Howe, whose
existence has only been known to a handful of people during the last 50
years will be sold at Bonhams’ Retromobile sale in Paris on 7 February
2009. This highly significant motor car is conservatively estimated to
realise in excess of €3,000,000.
The Bugatti with Atalante coachwork retains all the attributes that will
ensure its appeal to the world’s most discerning collectors. It has a
spectacular provenance having been owned by Earl Howe, Lord Ridley,
Harold Carr and others; it has a continuous and chronicled history; and it
has exceptional originality retaining original chassis, engine, drivetrain and
body. It even has what appears to be a remarkably low mileage with an
odometer reading of just 26,284.
The car will be on view at Bonhams Collectors’ Car sale at Olympia
on 30 November – 1 December 2008
James Knight, International Head of Bonhams' motoring department said:
"I have known of this Bugatti for a number of years and, like a select group
of others, hadn’t dared divulge its whereabouts to anyone. It is absolutely
one of the last great barn discoveries, and we at Bonhams are honoured to
have been selected to handle its sale.”
Bugatti Type 57S, chassis no. 57502, was completed at the Bugatti works
on 5 May, 1937 sporting two-seat Atalante coupe coachwork. It was
ordered new by no less than the motor sport great – and the BRDC’s
(British Racing Driver’s Club) first President - Earl Howe via UK Bugatti
agents, Sorel of London. Howe had a long association with Ettore Bugatti
and his machines, and developed a close friendship with Ettore and his
son Jean, having raced their Grand Prix motor cars.
copyright Bugatti Trust Archive
Earl Howe took delivery of 57502 on the 9 June 1937 and was to retain his
Bugatti for over eight years. He added a personal touch by fitting his own
bumpers, rear-view mirrors on the A-pillars and a luggage rack, which it
still retains to this day. It was to become his personal companion,
escorting him to Brooklands and other race meetings. The car would have
seen relatively little use during the Second World War as Earl Howe served
with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.
After hostilities ceased, the T57S was sold via Continental Cars to a Mr J P
Tingay in 1947. It was Tingay who effectively brought the car to ‘SC’
specification by fitting a Marshall K200 supercharger – as finding an
original Bugatti blower proved nigh on impossible so soon after the War.
Mr M H Ferguson acquired the Bugatti from Tingay in 1950 and by 1954 it
formed part of Lord Ridley’s collection. Dr Harold Carr then acquired it in
1955 from Lord Ridley. Dr Carr drove the car for the first few years but in the
early 1960s it was parked in his garage where it remained for nearly 50
years, until Dr Carr’s death in 2007. The T57S is being sold on behalf of
the family of Dr Carr, and will be offered with an extensive file of
correspondence documenting its fascinating history.
James Knight said: “The Atalante is incredibly original and, although she
requires restoration, it is “restoration” in the true sense of the word. From
my perspective, save for some of the interior, all original parts can be
restored or conserved in order to maintain originality. It offers a truly
rewarding project to the new owner - who will join a select list of
distinguished owners – to play such an integral part in bringing this
wonderful motor car back to life. It has all the finest attributes any
connoisseur collector could ever seek in one of the ultimate road-going
sports cars from the golden era of the 1930s"
Background: The Type 57S model:
Two years after the introduction of Bugatti’s 1930s masterpiece the Type
57, the model evolved into its definitive form as the ‘S’ or ‘competition
model’. Increased performance and a lowered centre of gravity created by
running the car’s rear axle through the chassis, produced not only an out-
and-out sports car, but a ground-hugging chassis line, ideal for creating
the most wind-cheating and aerodynamic bodywork designs yet seen.
Unquestionably the design for which the model is best known is the
Atlantic coupe, in which form the model debuted at the Paris Salon in 1935
and it was further refined before production ‘S’s left the factory in
September of the following year. By May 1937 when this chassis 57502
was delivered, the company could cite a string of international class speed
records, and Grand Prix wins. These would be capped with a Le Mans win
later that year.
Historians state six racing or prototypes were built before production of the
57S began in earnest, but even throughout its three year run a mere 17
Atalantes were constructed. The streamlined Atlantic was carefully honed
into a svelte coupe with the derived named Atalante, and this proved to be
the design of choice to grace these chassis. However even a designated
name didn’t mean uniformity as each car was handcrafted and as attested
to today, each had its own particular style and detail.
Francis Curzon, the fifth Earl Howe was synonymous with the best pre-war
sports cars. A keen amateur racing driver who succeeded to the Peerage
in 1929, he encouraged Dudley Benjafield to found the British Racing
Driver’s Club and was elected its first President that same year. He
retained this post until his death in 1964.
A close associate of the ‘Bentley Boys’ after the marque’s retirement from
racing he continued their quest for success in endurance racing,
partnering Sir Henry Birkin in an Alfa Romeo to win the 1931 Le Mans,
arguably his greatest achievement.
As a successful competitor who could not afford to indulge his motor sport
passion, he was surrounded by a wealth of friends and knowledgeable
enthusiasts to guide him to the very finest and most suitable mount for a
race, event or simply to enjoy the road with. That he owned a Type 57S
says a lot, that he kept this very same car for 8 years, says even more…..
These fabulous cars are coveted as much now as they were when new.
The passion for collecting the 57S has passed from the luminaries of the
1930s, such as Malcolm Campbell to the great collectors of the twenty-first
century, with the most passionate - Ralph Lauren among them -
possessing more than one, and very few ever parting with them.
The market supply is further diminished by the fact that a fifth of all
production resides in the Musee Nationale de L’Automobile in Mulhouse,
France including a quarter of all Atalantes built.
Even within this thin air, chassis 57502 has characteristics which may well
make it the most interesting of all the 57S cars, for as it stands today it
combines an impeccable provenance with that most prized quality of total
originality, having been virtually untouched and unused since the early