2020 was a great year if you sold a classic Bugatti.
If we learned one thing in 2020, it's that the rich get richer even in a pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic did little to curb the sale of highly-desirable collector cars, particularly classic Bugatti models steeped in history from the 1920s and 1930s. Bugatti reports via an analytics firm that a single manufacturer produced the five most expensive cars sold at auction in 2020. That's something that has never happened before, and in 2019 the majority of most expensive cars were Italian.
In 2020, the most expensive cars were all built by the French manufacturer in the Ettore and Jean Bugatti era. The least expensive, a 1931 Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport that was raced at Le Mans, went for $5.07 million at a French auction. Following that, a Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix built for the 1928 Targa Florio race went for $5.23 million in London.
In the middle of the pack, a restored 1932 Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport Roadster with a factory body designed by Jean Bugatti went for 7.1 million at Bonhams' Amelia Island auction in March of 2020. Just eleven of the 14 roadster-bodied Type 55 Super Sports built by Jean Bugatti still survive, and this one was last seen selling in the UK for a little over $600,000. That's one hell of an appreciating asset.
The second most expensive car to sell in 2020 was a Bugatti Type 57S Atalante originally bought by a British racing driver called Earl Howe in 1937. It's another Jean Bugatti designed body, this time only 17 were made. It sold for over $12 million through a Gooding & Company auction in London.
The most expensive public car sale for 2020 was a 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports model built by the Bugatti Grand Prix factory team that won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. It was driven through its racing life by a string of legendary drivers, including Louis Chiron, the man the Bugatti Chiron is named after. Once the Type 59 Sports was retired from racing, it was sold to King Leopold of Belgium. It has remained unrestored since and is powered by a supercharged inline eight--cylinder engine making around 247 horsepower. It sold for a staggering $12.681 million in September 2020 through Gooding & Company in London.