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Lot 131

2014   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2014

1927 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix

SOLD $2,970,000

Estimate

$2,800,000 - $3,500,000

Chassis

4863

Car Highlights

One of the Most Recognizable Type 35 Bugattis
Owned and Raced by “Bugatti Queen” Hellé Nice
Genuine Example with Desirable Period Upgrades
Offered with an Exceptional Historical File
Recent Mechanical Restoration by Sargent Metalworks

Technical Specs

2,262 CC SOHC Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Roots-Type Supercharger
Single Zenith Carburetor
Estimated 130 HP at 5,500 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Live Axle Suspension with Semi-Elliptical Front and Reversed Quarter-Elliptical Rear Leaf Springs
Register to Bid

Formerly the Property of Mlle. Hellé NiceMarco Andriesse, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (acquired new in July 1927)C.J. “John” van Hulzen, Molsheim, France (acquired by March 1929)Hellé Nice, Paris, France (acquired from Bugatti in March 1930)Tom S. Grimshaw, Yeadon, England (acquired via Jack Lemon Burton in February 1938)R.S. Shapley, England (acquired from the above in 1939)Jack Lawrence, London, England (acquired from the above in 1941)W.B. Hindes, Windsor, England (acquired from the above in 1944)E.V. Buck (acquired from the above circa 1946)Jack Perkins, Rugby, England (acquired from the above circa 1949)T.A. “Bob” Roberts, Shropshire, England (acquired from the above in 1974)Ben Rose, Highland Park, Illinois (acquired from the above in 1982)Oscar Davis, Elizabeth, New Jersey (acquired from the above in April 1997)Brian Brunkhorst, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (acquired from the above in 2001)Current Owner (acquired from the above)

Toul to Nancy, July 1929, C.J. van Hulzen (3rd Place)Dieppe Grand Prix, July 7, 1929, C.J. van Hulzen (6th Place)Doullens, July 28, 1929, C.J. van Hulzen (Result Unknown)Bugatti Grand Prix at Le Mans, June 1, 1930, Hellé Nice, No. 32 (3rd Place)Marne Grand Prix at Reims, July 5, 1931, Hellé Nice, No. 54 (14th place)Dieppe Grand Prix, July 26, 1931, Hellé Nice, No. 60 (7th place)Dauphine Grand Prix at Grenoble, August 2, 1931, Hellé Nice, No. 54 (7th place)Comminges Grand Prix, August 16, 1931, Hellé Nice, No. 30 (9th place)Monza Grand Prix, September 6, 1931, Hellé Nice, No. 31 (9th place)VSCC Donington, April 23, 1938, T.S. GrimshawWetherby Speed Trials, May 14, 1938, T.S. GrimshawShelsley Walsh Hill Climb, May 28, 1938, T.S. GrimshawBOC Prescott Hill Climb, July 31, 1938, T.S. GrimshawShelsley Walsh Hill Climb, September 10, 1938, T.S. GrimshawVSCC Meeting, August 27, 1938, T.S. GrimshawShelsley Walsh Hill Climb, June 1, 1946, E.V. Buck

Considered by many to be the most beautiful racing car of its period and one of the most enduring automotive designs of all time, the Type 35 is the definitive Bugatti Grand Prix car.

Unveiled at the Grand Prix of Lyon in August 1924, the Bugatti Type 35 was immediately hailed as an automotive marvel, combining state-of-the-art engineering with masterful aesthetic design. Equipped with an exotic roller-bearing overhead-cam engine, the original Type 35 produced about 95 hp, an impressive figure for a normally aspirated two-liter machine in the mid-1920s. The chassis was extremely light and featured Bugatti’s revolutionary hollow front axle and brilliant cast aluminum wheels, with clever integrated brake drums. In his book The Spirit of Competition, Dr. Fred Simeone describes the magnetic appeal of the Type 35 Grand Prix:

“Clearly a purposeful performance automobile with no compromise for comfort, the surfeit of louvres throughout, the unique cast aluminum wheels, engine turning and hand scraping on some unpainted parts, and the overall noise and smell orchestrated an aesthetic gem, which is why so many were sold to amateur and professional racing men and women.”

Thanks to its technical achievements, extraordinary performance, and remarkable versatility, the Type 35 dominated racing in the late 1920s and early 1930s, with over 1,000 wins in a variety of competitions throughout Europe. It has been said that the Type 35 averaged 14 race wins per week and, by the close of 1926, the model had already set 47 individual speed records. The Type 35 took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926, won the legendary Monaco Grand Prix three times, and the Targa Florio five times. The Bugatti’s success in competition attracted the best drivers of the day – Nuvolari, Varzi, Divo, Costantini, Benoist, Chiron, Dreyfus, and Williams all contributed to the legend of the Type 35.

According to Bugatti factory production records, this Type 35 Grand Prix, chassis 4863, was constructed in December 1926 and fitted with engine no. 111. On July 2, 1927, 4863 was invoiced to Marco Andriesse of Amsterdam and then driven from Molsheim to Paris, where it was delivered to its first owner.

The second owner of 4863 was C.J. “John” van Hulzen, a Dutch military pilot who had started his racing career with a Type 37. It is believed that Dutch Bugatti agent Herman Stam sold van Hulzen the Type 35 and encouraged him to work for Bugatti as an apprentice or a test driver. On March 30, 1929, van Hulzen, having by then moved to Molsheim, registered 4863 in Strasbourg with number “2048 NV.”

His first recorded outing in 4863 was an 11 km sprint between Toul and Nancy in July 1929, in which he finished 3rd. From there, he campaigned the Type 35 in the first Dieppe Grand Prix. During this race, in which Rene Dreyfus drove an ex-works Type 35B to victory, van Hulzen secured a 6th place result and recorded an average speed of 61.69 mph. Van Hulzen’s third and last recorded race in 4863 took place at the Doullens circuit, but his result at this event is not known.

Following this race, van Hulzen traded his two-year-old Type 35 for an ex-works Type 35B and 4863 returned to Molsheim from where it was sold, on March 29, 1930, to Hellé Nice.

Born Hélène Delangle in 1900, Hellé Nice was a Parisian actress, cabaret dancer, and acrobat, who had taken up motor racing in the late 1920s. Mme. Nice – who once famously remarked, “The thing I like best in the world is adventure” – enjoyed a glamorous lifestyle, dancing at the Casino de Paris, performing on the trapeze, and racing in important Grand Prix events throughout Europe. A beautiful woman who loved the thrill of driving fast cars, Hellé Nice attracted a great deal of publicity and an impressive list of suitors that included Philippe de Rothschild, Count Bruno d’Harcourt, Henri de Courcelles, and Jean Bugatti.

In early race outings she showed great promise. Following her win at Montlhéry in June 1929, Jean Bugatti offered Hellé Nice a Type 43A to drive in an event the following weekend. There, she recorded the best time of the day, beating all the male drivers. This result led to more ambitious challenges and, seeking publicity, Bugatti provided her with a works car with which she competed for record attempts.

When Mme. Nice bought 4863, Ettore Bugatti suggested that she participate in the next Bugatti Grand Prix, held at Le Mans on June 1, 1930. This she did and drove her second-hand Bugatti to 3rd place. This proved to be her only outing in 4863 in 1930, as she left France in late July for a four-month promotional tour in the US – her fame having become so widespread that she was invited there to compete in numerous East Coast dirt track races.

Upon her arrival in the US, the press announced her as: “The lady champion driver of the world, merited through her records made under the sanction of the Automobile Club of France when she made a straight away record of 133 mph and a circular track record averaging 122 mph for forty miles which included one stop at the pits for a tire change.”

Her first event in 1931 took place at the Marne Grand Prix, a 50-lap race held at the fast Reims road circuit. There, she finished last, a full six laps behind winner Marcel Lehoux, who averaged 88.97 mph in his brand-new Type 51. Later in July, she raced 4863 at the four-hour Dieppe Grand Prix and placed 7th after battling much more modern and powerful cars. In her last two races with 4863 – the Comminges Grand Prix and the Monza Grand Prix – she achieved back-to-back 9th place results.

Following the 1931 racing season, Mme. Nice continued to race a variety of Bugatti Grand Prix cars before changing to a more modern Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 for the 1933 Monza Grand Prix.

Little is known about 4863 until London Bugatti dealer Jack Lemon Burton imported it into England from Holland in 1937 or 1938. On February 3, 1938, the Type 35, now fitted with a supercharger and described as a Type 35C, was sold by Burton to Tom S. Grimshaw of Yeadon, England.

Grimshaw raced 4863 in a number of local events throughout 1938 and did quite well, winning three outright victories in his first race meeting. In early 1939, he sold the Bugatti to R.S. Shapley, who continued to race it until the outbreak of WWII.

In 1941, London dealer Jack Lawrence bought 4863 “for a song,” and by 1944 it had passed to W.B. Hindes. After the war, E.V. Buck purchased the Bugatti and raced it once at Shelsley Walsh before selling it to Jack Perkins. During Mr. Perkins’ ownership, the Bugatti was finished in a handsome gray-green color and registered for the road as “HUE 939.” Perkins competed with 4863 four times at Shelsley Walsh – twice in 1950, once in 1952, and once in 1956.

In 1974, well-known Bugatti enthusiast T.A. “Bob” Roberts, proprietor of the famed Midland Motor Museum, acquired 4863. During his ownership, the Type 35 was entrusted to Crosthwaite and Gardiner, who performed a comprehensive restoration over a period of four years. During the rebuild, the original crankshaft was replaced with a 100 mm-stroke crankshaft; thus, 4863 effectively became a Type 35B.

In 1982, well-known American collector Ben Rose purchased 4863 on the advice of his friend, Bugatti historian Hugh Conway. For nearly 15 years, the Hellé Nice Bugatti was the crown jewel of Mr. Rose’s collection and a fixture in his unique garage – The Pavilion – which became world famous after it was featured in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

In April 1997, Ben Rose consigned his collection to Christie’s Tarrytown Auction, and the Hellé Nice Bugatti – the cover car and featured lot of the sale – was sold to noted collector Oscar Davis of Elizabeth, New Jersey. In 2001, Brian Brunkhorst of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, purchased 4863 from Mr. Davis and actively campaigned the Bugatti throughout several seasons of vintage racing.

The current owner, a gentleman with a fine collection of European thoroughbreds, enlisted marque specialist Sargent Metalworks of Bradford, Vermont, to perform a comprehensive mechanical restoration. During this process, Sargent Metalworks carefully prepared the chassis for further use, while American Speed & Custom of Loveland, Colorado, rebuilt the engine using the finest internal components including a new roller-bearing crankshaft sourced from Brineton Engineering.

In a recent conversation, Mr. Sargent reported that 4863 – now fresh from an extensive mechanical rebuild – is one of the best performing Type 35s he has ever encountered. This sentiment was confirmed on a recent outing with a Gooding & Company specialist, who reported that the Bugatti delivered an absolutely exhilarating driving experience.

As the definitive grand prix machine of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Type 35 is universally acclaimed as an automotive masterpiece. It stands among the most important Bugatti models and, for over 60 years, collectors have regarded it as one of the most beautiful, exotic, and important automobiles ever built.

In characterizing the Type 35’s profound influence, Hugh Conway once wrote, “If any single design is responsible for the interest in the Marque Bugatti which exists today, for the founding of the Bugatti Owners’ Club in 1931 and others later, and indeed for the existence of the Bugatti Book, it is the Type 35.”

4863 is a well-known and highly regarded example, with a rich history, exceptional documentation, and an intimate connection to one of the most colorful and glamorous individuals in the history of motor racing, the “Bugatti Queen” Hellé Nice. With an impressive competition record both pre- and postwar, this Type 35 received all of the important mechanical upgrades (a supercharger, larger brakes, Targa Florio radiator) while retaining important original components, such as its frame and numbered engine sump (111). Offered with a history report compiled by David Sewell and mechanically restored by Sargent Metalworks, this Type 35 has been examined and prepared by the world’s foremost Bugatti specialists.

The fortunate new owner of 4863 will be acquiring a special Type 35 Grand Prix that embodies the spirit and traditions of the Bugatti marque, Le Pur-Sang des Automobiles.