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Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Paris, France (bought new June 16, 1928)Jean Gaupillat, Paris, France (acquired in 1928)Owner (acquired in 1931)Norbet Maher (acquired in 1933)Eugene Dubois (acquired in 1934)Owner, Paris, France (acquired in 1945)Dominique Lamberjack, Paris, France (acquired in 1949)Cabot Briggs, Boston, Massachusetts (acquired from the above 1950)Ray Jones (acquired from the above circa 1965)Gene Cesari, New Hampshire (acquired from the above circa 1966)Bill Serri, Jersey City, New Jersey (acquired circa 1967)Private California Owner (acquired in 1967)
Introduced in 1926, the Bugatti Type 37 was purpose-built for well-heeled gentlemen racers, combining the SOHC three-valve, four-cylinder engine of the Type 40 with a chassis based on that of the Type 35 competition car. Successful from launch, the Type 37 provided race car performance at road car cost and was quite capable of being driven to and from race meetings. The normally aspirated Type 37 developed 60 bhp, and the supercharged Type 37A produced 90 bhp, perfectly suited to the multitude of “Voiturette” races in period. Production continued until 1930, with as few as 268 built in all, including some 67 factory-supercharged Type 37As such as this example.
Numbered 37317, this 1928 Bugatti Type 37A was purchased new on June 16, 1928, by none other than Baron Philippe de Rothschild of the world-famous investment-banking family. An avid race car driver during the late 1920s, the Baron was a confirmed Bugatti enthusiast and often raced under the pseudonym “George Philippe” for anonymity.
This Type 37A does possess competition history and was photographed in action in period; however, research continues to engage Bugatti experts today. It has passed through a succession of owners through the 1930s and 1940s, and was recorded as having been acquired by Bugatti agent Dominique Lamberjack’s dealership in 1949. The next year, 37317 was purchased from the dealer by American Cabot Briggs, who commissioned a restoration by Lamberjack in 1951. Mr. Briggs retained 37317 until 1965, when he sold the Bugatti to Ray Jones, who traded it to Gene Cesari of New Hampshire, through whom it passed to Bill Serri of New Jersey, and then, in 1967, to the California-based collector from whose estate it is now offered.
This collector was a well-known and longtime member of the California hot-rodding, drag-racing, and dry-lakes racing fraternity, who thoroughly enjoyed the Type 37A and initiated the car’s restoration prior to his passing in 2000. His widow – having promised to ensure the Bugatti’s restoration was eventually completed – fulfilled her late husband’s wishes, with 37317 entrusted to respected Bugatti expert Jim Stranberg of Colorado’s High Mountain Classics for restoration. Following completion, 37317 was displayed at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it received Third in Class. Next, the Bugatti was returned to High Mountain Classics and then, in 2012, it was returned to the consignor’s home in California. Now offered for sale for the first time in 47 years, 37317 is equipped with a proper supercharger and an electric starter. Steeped in motor sports history, charismatic, and captivating, 37317 represents one of the most successful and sought-after designs conceived under the watchful eye of Le Patron, Ettore Bugatti.