Rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S to Sell for $9.5 Million

One of the rarest and most desirable pre-war classics a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S is about to cross the auction block after spending more than five decades hidden in a workshop. It will be the highlight of the upcoming Legends of the Road auction at Bonhams, taking place on February 19, 2021, and is expected to fetch between £5 million and £7 million ($6.7-9.5 million). It will sell without reserve.

The Bugatti bears chassis no. 57503 and was given a period-appropriate nickname for its British registration number DUL 351. Dulcie is a four-seater with a long, elegant nose and a fold-down windshield, and the Type 57S has been resting comfortably for five decades. Only eight of this Bugatti style was sent to Corsica of Cricklewood, which did all the coachwork. Corsica Coachworks built bespoke car bodies for luxury brands like Rolls Royce as well.

Having passed through the hands of expert racers and dealers, the 57S was originally ordered new by its original owner Robert Ropner of the Ropner Shipping Line family ordered his custom Bugatti with a Grand Routier body. It was the fastest road car of its day, designed as Grand Prix cars for the road. The second owner of this car, in fact, was British Connaught Grand Prix racing team founder Rodney Clarke. In 1969, engineer Bill Turnbull purchased the car and began the restoration process; at the time of his death, only final assembly remained.

The 57 Surbaisse has a 3.3-liter twin-can Bugatti engine and original body by Corsica Coachworks. The chassis is of the type made for the three Bugatti Type 57G “Tank” streamlined sports-racing cars, with the auction house saying that one of the two lost chassis was re-used for this vehicle. Only 42 57Ss were ever made, but this one is all the more special for this reason.

It has nearly perfect black paintwork, cream leather interior, and the original coachwork. It sells with certification and a well-documented history file, including Turnbull’s correspondence with the previous owners, conducted as part of his efforts to restore it.

Bonhams Motor Cars UK Director Sholto Gilbertson said in a press release: "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. This could well be the last 'hidden' pre-war Bugatti of note.”