A few days ago a rare Bugatti racer changed hands at auction. The Bugatti ‘Widow Maker’ racer changed hands for an undisclosed amount, though estimates ranged from $3.5 million and up. The full title is the 1931 Bugatti Type 54 Grand Prix, and it was driven by Achille Varzi on the racing circuit back in the day.
1930s Grand Prix races were held on high-speed tracks with many twists and turns. Phil Hill declared chassis 54201 the ‘scariest car’ he had ever raced.
The Widow Maker earned its nickname thanks to a heavy mix of power and design. Raced by Varzi in the 1931 Grand Prix at Monza, it boasts a robust Type 50 engine. Because of its massive power, straight eight and ladder frame chassis, it was a challenge to drive. Those facts paired with the fact that its first owner, Prince Jiri Lobcowicz, lost his life driving it at Avus all contribute to the unsavory nickname. The dramatic finale came when Count Stanislas Czaykowski lost his life in the 1933 Monza Grand Prix.
The annual Retromobile show in Paris featured two exotic car auctions: Bonhams at the Grand Palais in downtown Paris and Artcurial at Retromobile.
This model, serial number 54201, is the first of just four examples created. The seller was a Dutch Bugatti and Lotus collector who restored the Type 54 to its Monza debut configuration. It is the most original of the surviving Bugatti Type 54 cars, which certainly makes it worth much more cheddar.
The older models are dramatically different from the Veyron.
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