A 79-year-old Bugatti Type 51, which was raced in 17 European Grand Prix events and is considered one of the finest surviving vehicles of its kind, may set an all-time auction record August 14 during Monterey Auto Week.
The Bugatti, boasting its original bodywork, engine and gearbox, is predicted to sell for $4.5 million, which would be the highest price ever paid for a grand prix racing Bugatti.
The car is being sold by the British private collector who paid the current world record sum for a Type 35 Bugatti two years ago.
Bugatti historian David Sewell said the latest sale, 1931-built chassis 51132, is “a remarkably complete and original car and there is no doubt to its authenticity. It ranks among the finest survivors of the highly desirable Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix.”
The last time a Bugatti Type 51 came to auction, nearly ten years ago in 2001, it sold for more than $1.5 million.
Dan Warrener, car specialist at RM Auctions, which is holding the sale, said: “Many of our clientele have been disgruntled with the anxiety caused by the wild fluctuations in the world stock markets.
“And while the past two years have demonstrated that ‘blue chip’ stocks can be reduced to zero, serious depreciation in rare car values has never happened. Rare collector cars, like fine art, have increased in value dramatically in the past decade.
The RM Auction is among approximately two dozen events — car shows to auctions, memorabilia to vintage racing — that comprise the collection of car-related events unofficially called Monterey Auto Week.
The events include: The Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach; The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering in Carmel Valley; and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca in Monterey.