Classic car prices are surging for many makes and models such as the Ferrari 250 GTO but what about the very special Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic?
Bugatti only built four of the swoopy coupes between 1936 and 1938 and they remain the crown jewels of Bugatti production cars. The models came to life when Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean, decided to modernize the company’s vehicle lineup.
The Type 57SC Atlantic, however, was different. Jean developed the unique car from the Aérolith prototype and used aluminium for the body. The exterior also featured rivets, which recalled the Atlantic prototype made from aviation materials. Bugatti decided to name the coupe the “Atlantic” in honour of Bugatti’s friend Jean Mermoz, who never returned from a South Atlantic aviation journey in 1936.
Of the four built, just three of these elegant models were sold to private customers. The first production car was sold to British banker Victor Rothschild. The third car was delivered to Jacques Holzschuh of France, who tragically died in an accident. The 57SC Atlantic was completely destroyed in the crash, though it underwent a painstaking restoration decades later. Despite modern technology and tools, the engine was lost. The fourth car was sold to R.B. Pope of Britain. Today, fashion designer Ralph Lauren owns it.
The second production model remains a mystery and is classified as the missing example. Jean Bugatti built the car for himself and lent it out to Bugatti racing drivers. Photos exist of the car for promotional materials, but there’s not a single record of the car after 1938. Bugatti believes it could have been sold to one of Jean’s racing friends. A more likely scenario, per the brand, is that the car was hidden as Germany invaded France during WWII. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been found to this day.
Should the car turn up in the future, experts have appraised its value at more than $113 million. The sum would handily outdo the most expensive car ever sold at auction: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold for $44 million last year.