To restore or not to restore? That will be the gut-wrenching question faced by the winning bidder for this 1937 Bugatti 57S Atlante. Remarkably, the coupe is in all-original condition, and has traveled but 26,824 kilometers in its lifetime.
Chassis number 57502 was originally delivered to Francis Curzon, a British racing enthusiast, Member of Parliament, and the fifth Earl of Howe, in the summer of 1937. Earl Howe used the car as his primary vehicle, fitting numerous custom touches (including unique bumpers and a luggage rack) until World War Two, when he served with the Royal Navy. Following the war, the car was sold and, like many other 57S models, was upgraded to 57SC specification by adding a supercharger.
The car would only change hands three times afterwards, but its purchase by a Dr. Harold Carr in 1955 would prove to be its last for quite some time. Carr drove the car briefly in his first years of ownership, but stored it away in a barn for the last fifty years. Following his death in 2007, Carr’s family decided to remove the car from storage and part ways with it.
Howe’s 57S Atlante will headline the Bonhams auction at February’s 2009 Retromobile show in Paris, France, and it’s easy to see why. Though other cars, including a 1934 Bugatti 57 Ventoux, will be up for sale, few – if any – have the provenance of this coupe. To the winning bidder: we’d insist you refrain from restoring this excellently preserved example of one of the finest creations to wear the Bugatti name.