1927 Bugatti Type 38A Grand Sport
$350,000 - $400,000
RM | Sotheby's - AMELIA ISLAND 6 - 7 MARCH 2020
- Offered on Saturday
- Formerly of the John Rich Collection
- One of 39 factory supercharged Type 38A models
- Originally owned by racing driver L.G. “Batch” Bachelier
- Well-maintained older restoration by Donald Koleman
- Veteran of numerous tours and rallies
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
The Type 38A offered here, chassis no. 38470, was one of reportedly 39 examples built with a powerful supercharged engine. Fitted with the factory’s attractive boat-tailed aluminum Grand Sport coachwork, it remained at the factory for over a year before it was delivered at a special price to London dealer Colonel Sorel on 23 October 1928. Colonel Sorel, in turn, sold the car to the original owner, L.G. “Batch” Bachelier, a well-known racing driver of the period, who drove the car in the JCC High Speed trials of July 1929. In the early 1930s the car was sold to Denis Evans, who raced it in the British Automobile Racing Club Open Meeting Mountain racing handicap in 1931 and in the JCC High Speed Trial at Brooklands in 1932.
The car’s subsequent owner was named Child and lived near Rotherham, who in turn sold it to a B. Rees of West Hampstead, London. By this time its chassis and body had been shortened to make a two-seater, and the engine was replaced with the current unit. In this form the car was exported from England in the early 1960s and enjoyed a handful of new owners in the USA, including Richard Winer of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who sold the car to Dr. Terry Bennett of New Hampshire.
At the dissolution of Dr. Bennett’s collection in 1991, the Bugatti became one of the early acquisitions in the noted collection of John Rich, Sr., in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Mr. Rich commissioned a full restoration of the car to its original configuration by noted Bugatti specialist Donald Koleman’s Competition Motors. After restoration the car was regularly shown by Mr. Rich, appearing at the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, at Meadowbrook in 1994, and Amelia Island in 2004.
The current owner acquired the car from the Rich Collection in 2016 and has invested in sorting it for the road, including fitting a custom-made reproduction Bennington Blower. The engine, which runs on roller bearings, was prepped for spirited driving with an electric fan and a polished radiator expansion tank, and a 12-volt plug was fitted under the dashboard. The result is an excellent event car, which has reportedly been very reliable on several tours, including the most recent North American Bugatti Owners Tour. It is well suited for the same use with a new, enthusiastic caretaker.
Please note that the successful buyer of this lot will have right of first refusal to acquire a period-correct supercharger, no. 008, along with a few other limited spares. Contact an RM Sotheby’s specialist for additional information.