Bugatti Type 57S Atalante (57502)

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1937 Bugatti Type 57S number 57502 pictured in the garage where it was discovered (undated photograph released by Bonhams)[1]

The Bugatti Type 57S Atalante number 57502, built in 1937 by Automobiles Ettore Bugatti, is one of 43 Bugatti Type 57S made and one of only 17 Type 57S produced with the in-house Atalante coupé coachwork. The car hit the headlines in 2009 when auctioned by Bonhams, after having been rediscovered in 2008, following 48 years of storage in a private owner's garage in Gosforth, England, with few people aware of its location.


Chassis number 57502 was completed at the Bugatti works on 5 May 1937, with the works number plate 1127-W5;[2] it then wore the British number plate DYK 5,[3] finally being re-registered as EWS 73, the number which it wore on rediscovery. The car was ordered new from the factory by Francis Curzon, 5th Earl Howe (1884–1964), a keen motor racing enthusiast, who took delivery of it on 9 June 1937 from Sorel of London, the UK agents for Bugatti. 57502 then passed through three intermediate owners before being bought in 1955 by Dr. Harold Carr (1917–2007), from Newcastle upon Tyne.[4] Passionate for machinery, aviation and adventuring, Dr. Carr suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, which in his later life caused him to become a recluse and to develop an hoarding instinct.[5] In December 1960, after its last tax disc expired, Dr. Carr stored the Bugatti along with other classic cars[6] in a lock up garage in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne.[1] There it remained unused and untouched until after Carr's death, when it was discovered by Carr's nephew clearing the garage of his uncle's possessions in 2008. 57502 still possessed its original chassis, engine, drive train and body, though it did contain some modifications: bespoke bumpers, rear-view mirrors on the A-pillars, and a luggage rack dating from the Earl Howe ownership, as well as a Marshall K200 supercharger fitted by a later owner. According to the nephew, notes found in the garage showed that some people had previously inquired about the car, and attempted to buy it from Carr. Other family members had known of the Bugatti and other cars in Dr. Carr's possession, but weren't aware of the car's true value.

Auction house Bonhams, instructed to sell the car by the eight Carr heirs,[7] made it the centrepiece of their February 2009 sale at the Rétromobile car show in Paris.[8] Due to its rarity, low mileage and original condition, it was speculated that it could become the most expensive car ever sold at auction, at around £6 million.[4] These hopes were dashed, however, as it fell short of the £3 million reserve price, reaching £2,989,495 (3,417,500 euros, US$4,408,575).[9]


General references
Inline citations
  1. ^ a b Katz, Associated Press, (image caption) In this undated image released by Bonhams, an extremely rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante, is seen in a garage in Gosforth, England, where it was revealed by relatives after the death of the owner
  2. ^ "Bugatti Trust Photo Archive Album 19 - Type 57S 104. Type 57S, Chassis # 57502, Reg. 1127-W5, Atalante". The Bugatti Trust. Retrieved 1 January 2009. T.57S Atalante with works registration number plate. Near the factory gates, Molsheim 
  3. ^ "Bugatti Trust Photo Archive Album 19 - Type 57S 118. Type 57S, Chassis # 57502, Reg. DYK 5, Atalante". The Bugatti Trust. 1938. Retrieved 1 January 2009. Raymond Mays talking to Lord Howe. Donington Park 1938 
  4. ^ a b BBC Online News, 1 Jan 2009
  5. ^ Rob Pattinson (1 January 2009 regionwide edition). "The Wheels of Fortune (front page), Life of an adventurer (section, p5)". Evening Chronicle. pp. 1,4,5.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  6. ^ Katz, Associated Press, He also left behind an Aston Martin, which was sold, and a Jaguar sports car that was scrapped because it was in such poor condition
  7. ^ Katz, Associated Press, Knight and a small number of Bugatti enthusiasts knew of Carr's proudest possession, but not the eight relatives who inherited Carr's estate.
  8. ^ "Sale 17043 - Automobiles d'Exception à Retromobile, Paris, 7 Feb 2009 : Lot 142: 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupé". Bonhams. 
  9. ^ "Classic Bugatti makes 3.4m euros". BBC News online. 4 November 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 

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