1931 Bugatti Type 54 Grand Prix
Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 7, 2013
Whoa. Bonhams dug up a treasure for their Paris sale this year – this is one of only nine Bugatti Type 54 Grand Prix cars built. The Type 54 was an evolution of the Type 51. It was used for the 1931 Grand Prix season. The engine is a 300 horsepower 4.9-liter supercharged straight eight. It was entered in the “Above 3-Liters” category, which was essentially an “anything goes” class. Most of the important pieces on the Type 54 were sourced from other Bugattis. Essentially, they took the best bits of every car they built until one super machine was finished. This particular car won the 1931 Grand Prix of Monza with Achille Varzi driving.
I’d like to list the entire race history of this car, but Bonham’s catalog description looks like it was written in French and run through a mediocre translator to get the English version. As it is, it is almost unreadable and very vague. If you’re thinking of buying this thing and provenance is important to you, I’d get someone on the phone first to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
This car left the Bugatti team ranks at the end of 1931 and was sold to Prince Georg Christian Lobkowicz of Czechoslovakia. He was a “gentleman driver” so to speak and was unfortunately killed in this car during his first outing in it at AVUS in 1932. The car was given to his teammate, Zdenek Pohl, who had it rebuilt but didn’t really use the car until it was obsolete. So he turned it into a two-seat roadster with beautiful coachwork by Oldrich Uhlik (the body for this new car now resides on another chassis and is owned by a 1930s European car hoarder in California – just kidding, Mr. Mullin!).
The next owner, who acquired the car in 1970, had the roadster body removed and an original-style Grand Prix body was constructed for the car by the Peel coachbuilding company. It was re-bodied again in 2005 by Rod Jolley in painstaking detail back to 1931 Monza race condition. It is being offered as one of four surviving Type 54s of the original nine built and the only one whose original mechanical parts have never been removed/separated from the car. It is expected to sell for between $3,300,000-$4,700,000. Read more here (it’s better if you speak French) and check out the rest of the Bonhams lineup here.
Update: Not sold.