London | Lot 291
1931 Bugatti Type 49 Saloon by Vanvooren
£109,200 GBP | Sold
| London, United Kingdom
26 October 2011
85 hp, 3,257 cc SOHC, three-valve inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, front semi-elliptic springs, rear quarter-elliptic inverted springs, live axle, four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 3,200 mm
• Fully restored, matching-numbers Bugatti saloon with elegant coachwork
• Full provenance
• In long-term, 30-year ownership before thorough restoration
The Bugatti Type 49 succeeded the Type 44 in 1930. It was slightly larger than its predecessor and described in a contemporary report as a successful blend of comfortable carriage and lively sports car. The last of the early SOHC eight-cylinder cars, the Type 49 was rarer than the Type 44, with 470 sold between 1930-34 against 1,100 Type 44s sold between 1927-30. The Depression had taken hold, and a new car was beyond most people’s means, particularly a luxurious Bugatti.
Research by marque historians indicate this car was delivered as a rolling chassis to Parisian coachbuilders Vanvooren in April 1931, and on 12 May it was fitted with Vanvooren’s handsome four-door saloon coachwork, design number 9487. The engine’s “L” prefix indicates a slightly longer wheelbase, and when the car was completed on 25 June, Bugatti was invoiced 19,000FF for the work, a remarkable sum of money in the early 1930s.
The completed saloon was invoiced to the Marseille agent Hoffman Vidal for 69,960FF ($2,798), who sold it to Victor Lagarde of Marseille. Lagarde registered the car as 2555 CA4 on 2 July, then moved to Ollioulles in the Department of Var on 28 September, 1931, re-registering it as 7808 YU1. Lagarde kept the car until 16 September, 1938, when he sold it to Auguste Martin of Marseille, who registered it as 8325 CB.
The car remained in Marseille throughout WWII, being sold to Gilbert Cassini afterwards, still with the same license plate. He sold the saloon to mechanic Joseph Lopez in 1949, who re-registered it as 2272 AR 13 on 15 January, 1955, when new licenses came into effect, with the final two digits indicating the region. The number 13 indicates Bouches-du-Rhone.
By this point, 1930s Bugattis were becoming highly desirable, and Bugatti dealer Paul Sac of Marseille bought chassis 49294 in 1962, selling it to Italian Bugatti collector Gianluigi Saccardo of Schio. Saccardo passed it on to the Artom brothers in 1966, and they kept it for 30 years, finally selling it to the present owner in 1996.
Celli commenced a spectacular restoration. The car was refinished in burgundy with cream side panels, the alloy wheels are lined in red, and the spare wheel is carried on the driver’s side front fender. The upholstery is in green corduroy, a separate black leather trunk is fitted to the rear, and 49294 has directional indicators. The car’s condition is described as pristine, and this extends to the engine compartment as well.
Bugattis of this period are not common and frequently restored from rather desperate circumstances. 49294 has the benefit of having complete provenance in a relatively mild climate, culminating in a first-class restoration. It’s hard to imagine a better combination.