Sold for $616,000 at 2011 RM Sothebys
The Great Depression was followed by the Second World War, both were devastating to many of the early automakers. European companies who were fortunate to survive the Great Depression were equally fortunate to evade the bombing and devastation caused by a tragic War.
One of those unlikely companies to withstand the devastation was the Bugatti Company. Their founder, Ettore Bugatti, died in 1947 at the age of 58. The remains of the company were divided between his heirs. When the War came to a close, the company persevered, and at the 1947 Paris Salon, the company displayed their Type 73. It was a bold vehicle that was intended both for racing and for the road. The project, perhaps too ambitious for the time, never emerged from the prototype stage. Yet, it did make a statement and re-assure the public about the company's passions. Meanwhile, Bugatti rebuilt their business by taking orders for parts and service for the Bugatti-powered rail cars, production of weaving looms and machining work for Citroen.
With growing financial stability and a sustainable business, Bugatti General Manager Pierre Marco, along with Roland Bugatti, the youngest of Ettore's children from his first marriage, introduced the Type 101. This new model was based on the pre-War Type 57 and was powered by a 3.3-liter dual overhead-camshaft inline eight-cylinder engine and fitted with a Cotal electrically-controlled gearbox. Several modifications were made to modernized the engine, include the replacement of the Stromberg carburetor with a downdraught Weber unit.
The coachwork was equally modern and elegant, suspended in place by a semi-independent front setup with a live rear axle. The bodies had a full-width streamlined envelope design with a Bugatti trademark 'horseshoe' radiator grille to its prewar design heritage.
During the production lifespan of the Type 101, which lasted until the mid-1950s, only eight examples were produced. The vehicle's Achille's heal and perhaps the reason for the low production numbers was its engine displacement size, which left it in the '17 Chevaux Vapeur' fiscal horsepower class. Under postwar French regulations, this engine qualified for an annual tax.
This early example wears coachwork by Van Antem in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris and built for the 1951 Paris Salon de l'Automobile. It was on display in Paris along with a Gangloff-bodied drophead coupe before returning to Molsheim, where it was eventually road-registered. The car was purchased in 1958 by Gene Cesari, who later sold it to Robert C. Stanley, Jr. of Fair Haven, New Jersey. It was later owned by Bill Harrah before being sold to Jacques Harguindeguy. Film star Nicolas Cage became the vehicle's next caretaker, followed by Gene Ponder. It later entered the John O'Quinn Collection.
In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Monterey auction presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $600,000 - $800,000. At auction, the lot was sold for the sum of $616,000, including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011