Lot 240

Monterey 2022

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Cabriolet in the style of Corsica

Offered from the Oscar Davis Collection


$527,500 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
US Title
  • Once owned by famed sponsor of Ecurie Ecosse, Major Edward G. Thomson
  • Powerful twin-camshaft inline-eight engine with supercharger; retains numbers-matching crank case
  • Originally bodied with two-seat Vanden Plas coachwork; fitted with this delightful Corsica-style body under Oscar Davis’ ownership
  • One of the very last Type 57s produced by Bugatti before the outbreak of the second World War
  • Believed to be the last chassis imported by London Bugatti Agent Colonel Sorel

The Type 57, perhaps the most celebrated roadgoing chassis in Bugatti’s illustrious history, made a name for itself by being the last word in French automotive luxury. As it was beautifully appointed and often wore coachwork from Europe’s most notable coachbuilders, ownership of a Type 57 Bugatti when new was perhaps the best statement of fashion that money could buy. An experienced driver can ascertain hints of the company’s sporting nature through the Type 57’s chassis, and while this vehicle is often associated with the utmost levels of luxury, there is no denying its inherent athleticism.

The Paris Auto Salon of October 1936 marked a propitious crossroads for the Alsatian manufacturer. There, the company introduced a second-series iteration of the vaunted Type 57 that featured a 3.3-liter dual overhead-cam eight-cylinder engine and competition-inspired chassis. In addition to the second-series Type 57, Bugatti also unveiled two sporting variants of the Jean Bugatti-designed model, the 57C and the 57S. Each new model upped the performance ante, with the former offering supercharged power while the latter featured a sporting, low chassis.

Invoiced on 28 July 1939, chassis 57838 was delivered without coachwork to Bugatti’s Brixton Road agency in London. Illustrious coachbuilder Vanden Plas constructed an attractive two-seat roadster body for the car, and it was soon registered with number DWW 222 on 27 September 1939.

The proximity of the delivery to the outbreak of the war has unfortunately resulted in a lack of clarity regarding the identity of the original owner. It is believed Edward G. Thomson, famed sponsor of the Ecurie Ecosse racing team, ordered the Bugatti, but was unable to acquire it until peacetime. Regardless, Thomson had possession of 57838 directly after the war and a photograph on file shows him in the car wearing the original registration numbers at a sand racing event in St. Andrews, Scotland. Thomson ownership continued until 1970; at this point, the Type 57C was sold along with the totality of his extensive collection, including the Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type, XKD 501.

Unfortunately, the state of the car had deteriorated over the decades and at the time of sale, only the hood, fenders and two seats remained from the original coachwork. With a lack of photos available showing the original coachwork, it was decided by the then-owner, Leonard Potter, to commission a copy of the Corsica two-seater roadster from the well-known Tourist Trophy model, chassis 57326. This work was completed by Keith Bowley of Ashton Keynes Vintage Restorations.

The Type 57C was later sold to Roney Clark, and then exported to the United States in 1980 by dealer Peter Harper for their client Bryon White of Massachusetts. Oscar Davis then purchased the Bugatti from White in 1989.

In 2004, the car began a multi-year mechanical restoration by Leydon Restorations, and a new Corsica-style body was constructed by D.L. George Historic Motorcars. Drastically different from the previous bodies, the Bugatti now presents with teardrop-shaped pontoon fenders and a low-cut fixed windscreen. The exterior is finished with a single shade of deep red paint and the interior is trimmed in tan leather. The beautiful wooden dashboard is fitted with a comprehensive assortment of Jaeger gauges. Most importantly, the crankcase found under the hood still bears the stampings “57838” and “105C,” matching the Bugatti data and register book.

Now offered from the Oscar Davis Collection, this Bugatti Type 57C, with its incredible performance, style, and provenance, illustrates the greatest virtues of motoring’s most esteemed manufacturer.