Arguably the most important piece of European automotive sculpture, painstakingly restored, has a new home in California.
The 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic is the most valuable car to have ever exchanged hands, with a figure in the region of $30 to $40 million paid by Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, to late car collector Dr. Peter D. Williamson in May 2010. The Mullin Automotive Museum is dedicated to the preservation of French classic cars of the thirties, including marques such as Delage, Talbot Lago and Delahaye, but the Bugatti is undoubtedly its most prized possession.
Only three production Atlantics were built and just two of these breathtakingly stunning cars are known to have survived: the car videoed here at the museum is one, and the other forms part of the Ralph Lauren collection.
Considered the epitome of French Art Deco styling and the most beautiful pre-war car of all time, the staggering sum of money paid by an anonymous buyer reflects that cars of this nature: beautifully built and rare, are starting to be considered in the same category as fine art, sculpture and wine. It's hard to see how the ultimate Bugatti and first supercar ever made with its influential avant-garde tear-drop aluminum body and signature dorsal seams will ever be eclipsed, but a nine-figure car is not beyond the realms of possibility.