The very first example built of the 1931 Bugatti Type 55, one of the rarest and most coveted sports cars of the 1930s, has hit the auction block, and it won't come cheap. California auction house Gooding & Co. expects the two-seater to fetch between $4 million and $5 million next month in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Stamped chassis 55201, this particular model is reportedly the first of just 38 Type 55 units Bugatti made from 1931 through 1935. It was on display at the 1931 Paris Auto Show and is said to be "one of the most coveted prewar sports cars."
She's certainly beautiful. The Type 55 was built atop the chassis that underpinned Bugatti's Type 45 and Type 47 Grand Prix racers. It has unique features not included on later versions, like the GP-style hood with shortened louvers on the side and diagonal louvers in the top of the hood. And dig the yellow-tinted glass on the headlamps.
Underneath the hood is a supercharged, twin-overhead cam inline-eight cylinder engine that makes about 132 horsepower driving a four-speed manual transmission. So a Bugatti Chiron, it's not. But it was apparently owned by Duc de le Tremoille, a prominent French aristocrat, then by a Bugatti enthusiast named Dr. Peter Williamson before being restored by a Bugatti specialist in 2012. It also won the French Cup at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
So, a chance to add a bit of style panache and history to your garage, if you've got a few spare million lying around. The Scottsdale auction takes place Jan. 19-20.