The First Bugatti Type 55 Sports Car Ever Built Could Sell For $5 Million


It's one of only 38 examples in the world, complete with its original engine and chassis.

Cars from the 1930s may not be as desirable as modern-day supercars, but this one is rather special and has historical significance. It's also eye-wateringly expensive. Heading to Gooding & Company’s upcoming Scottsdale auction is the first ever Bugatti Type 55 Roadster to roll off the production line. Hailed as “one of the most coveted pre-war sports cars,” this 1931 Bugatti Type 55, chassis 55201, is the first of only 38 examples ever built. It's also the same car that debuted at the 1931 Paris Auto Show during the model's reveal.

It has some racing heritage too, as it shares the same chassis as the 16-cylinder Type 45 and Type 47 Grand Prix race cars. Under the hood of the Bugatti Type 55 Roadster lies a supercharged eight-cylinder engine that produces 130 hp. Because you obviously can’t expect Bugatti Chiron levels of power in a car made in 1931. It was first delivered to Duc de le Tremoille, who was a “member of one of the oldest families of French nobility” according to the auction listing. After that, it was owned by renowned Bugatti enthusiast and collector Dr. Peter Williamson for over 40 years. Apparently, the Type 55 Roadster was his favorite Bugatti for road use.

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Since it was the first example built, this particular Type 55 has unique features not seen on later models, such as the Grand Prix-style hood with shortened louvers on the side and diagonal louvers on top of the hood. In 2012, the vintage roadster was comprehensively restored and it went on to win the French Cup at The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Considering its age, this 1931 Bugatti Type 55 is in remarkably good condition, maintaining its original chassis and engine. It’s no wonder, then, that the auction house estimates it will sell for between $4 and $5 million when it goes under the hammer early next year.