2022 | Pebble Beach Auctions
1937 Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux
From The Mark J. Smith Collection
$1,000,000 - $1,500,000| Without Reserve
Exceptionally Original and Unique Example of the Ventoux
Desirable Second-Series Chassis with Supercharged Engine and Factory Upgrades
Provenance Dates Back to First Owner Prince Wilhelm of Sweden
One-Off Example Fitted with Highly Attractive, Atalante-Style Front Fenders
Retains Matching-Numbers Engine and Original Coachwork per Bugatti Club Records
First in Class (Prewar Preservation) at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®
3,257 CC DOHC Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Single Stromberg UUR-2 Carburetor
160 BHP at 5,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Bugatti-Lockheed Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Front Solid-Axle Suspension with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear Live-Axle Suspension with Quarter-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland, Sweden (acquired new in 1937)
Dr. Jacques Frasquelle, Paris, France (acquired via Bugatti in 1939)
Earl Jennings, Houston, Texas (acquired via Osenat Paris-Fontainebleau Auction in 1985)
Mark J. Smith (acquired from the above via Ralph Englestad in 1988)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2009 (First in Class)
The Elegance at Hershey, Pennsylvania, 2018 (Historic Vehicle Association’s Most Well-Preserved Vehicle Award)
Unveiled in 1934, the Type 57 is widely regarded as a masterpiece by the hand of Jean Bugatti. The successor to the popular Type 49, the new Bugatti was powered by a jewel-like 3.3-liter, twin-cam, straight-eight engine and represented the ultimate in automotive design. Like all Bugattis that preceded it, the Type 57 handled with finesse and possessed a delicate feel characteristic of these magnificent automobiles. Graceful, exquisitely made, and incredibly exclusive, the Type 57 was instantly recognizable as a conveyance of the highest quality and performance.
Bugatti continually refined the Type 57 throughout its production run, resulting in three distinct series of chassis. The Second-Series chassis – introduced in 1936 and underpinning the car presented here – featured a strengthened rear axle, cross-braced frame, rubber engine mounts, and upgraded brakes, among other improvements.
According to factory records, this Bugatti, chassis 57517, was assembled in March 1937, and fitted with engine no. 7C, one of the first supercharged Type 57 engines built. This 57C chassis was then dressed in special Ventoux coachwork, penned by Jean Bugatti and constructed at the Molsheim factory. This body style features a striking, avant-garde design characterized by its steeply raked windscreen and elegant, flowing lines. This car’s unique Atalante-style front fenders and elaborate 57C dashboard distinguish it from other Ventoux coupes, the vast majority of which were delivered in un-supercharged form.
This one-of-a-kind Ventoux was specially built for Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, who had ordered the car while visiting Molsheim in spring 1937. He demanded instant gratification and the order was noted as urgent in the factory ledger. Ettore Bugatti, who always personally catered to royal customers, complied with the prince’s request. Painted black with Havana Brown leather upholstery, 57517 was completed at Molsheim and delivered to the Swedish royal on June 5, 1937.
According to legend, Prince Wilhelm used the Bugatti during his stay in the South of France, where he often spent time with his long-term companion Jeanne de Tramcourt. In 1938, he returned the Ventoux to Bugatti for freshening which was outsourced to noted coachbuilder Gangloff of Colmar, France. This work consisted of “Revison carrosserie, nettoyage, polissage, raccords peinture” and was completed on May 27, 1938. While at Molsheim, the chassis was also updated with desirable Third Series features, including Lockheed hydraulic brakes, telescopic shock absorbers, and a Vertex magneto.
The Ventoux’s second owner, Dr. Jacques Frasquelle, bought it from the Bugatti factory in May 1939 and registered it in Paris as “9456 DW 75.” He kept the car for over four decades and, when Hugh Conway published his Bugatti Register and Data Book in 1960, he noted that Dr. Frasquelle had already driven the car 110,000 miles.
In October 1985, the Ventoux was sold at the Osenat Paris-Fontainebleau Auction to Earl Jennings of The Century Auto Collection in Houston, Texas. When this collection was dissolved a few years later, the Bugatti was sold, via Imperial Palace Casino owner Ralph Englestad, to well-known automobilist Mark J. Smith.
Always a keen admirer of original automobiles, Mr. Smith treasured this Bugatti and kept it among his personal collection of unrestored classics. During his decades-long ownership, the Ventoux was rarely shown, but when it did make a public appearance, it was always well received by cognoscenti. In 2009, it received First in Class in the Prewar Preservation class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®; at The Elegance at Hershey in 2018, it earned the Historic Vehicle Association’s Most Well-Preserved Vehicle Award. Today, this Bugatti remains in fine, unrestored condition and displays an irreplaceable patina throughout.
With timeless styling and sophisticated engineering, the Type 57C is among the ultimate road-going Bugattis. Surely one of the finest surviving examples, 57517 possesses an unrivaled provenance – built to order for Prince Wilhelm of Sweden with just three registered owners since. Its largely original order speaks to the care it has continued to receive over the past 85 years, and the splendid Jean Bugatti-designed coachwork, with attractive lines and unique characteristics, rank it as one of the most attractive Ventoux coupes ever built.
Gooding & Company is proud to offer this extraordinary Bugatti on behalf of The Mark J. Smith Collection and recommends it to the connoisseur collector in search of an outstanding example of this legendary marque.