Bugatti has managed to acquire five of its prewar models, the automaker has confirmed. Impressively, the cars mostly have original paint, trim material, and individual rivets, with some of the combinations perhaps picked by Ettore Bugatti or his son Jean.
The collection, which includes a Type 51, Type 37A, Type 49 Faux Cabriolet, Type 35B, and Type 35A, was built up over decades by Swiss Bugatti connoisseur Hans Matti, who collected and meticulously cared for the cars, and accumulated a collection of related photographs, magazine features, books, and factory archive material.
You might be wondering how Bugatti managed to get a hold of the collection. According to the company, Matti wasn’t keen to let go of it. The collection was, after all, his life work. Through two and half years of discussions, and with some help from Ettore Bugatti’s granddaughter Caroline, Matti finally gave in.
After leaving Matti’s home in Switzerland, the cars’ first trip was to Bugatti’s headquarters in Molsheim, France. Bugatti plans to keep them in their original, unrestored condition.
“This collection of cars and the stories that have been gathered around them are absolutely priceless, and we’re honored to have been able to welcome them to home of Bugatti Automobiles,” Christophe Piochon, Bugatti’s president, said in a statement.
The Type 51 is perhaps the most impressive. It started its life as one of the last Type 35Bs to be built, but was converted into a Type 51 when Bugatti decided to install a new twin-cam engine under the hood. The car made a number of racing appearances, including at Monaco, Monza, and at the Targa Florio. Bugatti legend Achille Varzi was among the people who raced it.
In an interesting twist, the original engine that powered the Type 51 when it was still a Type 35B was swapped into the Type 35B in this collection. The Type 35A in this collection also doesn’t have its original engine. Instead it has a rare engine, the only remaining one of its kind, originally fitted to Bugatti’s Type 36, of which two examples were built; both were later destroyed. The Type 35A also has a gearbox and rear axle from the Type 36.
The Type 49 Faux Cabriolet in the collection was a personal car of Jean Bugatti. It features a body designed and built at the Bugatti factory, which is rare for the Type 49, and since this one belonged to Jean Bugatti, it also features his initials on the doors.
Completing the collection is a Type 37A, an early supercharged model with matching numbers. This car has an extensive history that, according to Bugatti, has been traced to its first owner.
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