Lot 337

Monterey 2023

1928 Bugatti Type 37A Grand Prix

Offered From The Terence E. Adderley Collection


$747,500 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
US Title
  • Offered from the Terence E. Adderley Collection
  • Achieved 3rd overall at the 1928 Targa Florio as a works car with Count Caberto Conelli piloting
  • Purchased afterward by Phillipe de Rothschild and subsequently raced by Jean Gaupillat
  • Restored by Bugatti expert Jim Stranberg of High Mountain Classics
  • Accompanied by report from Bugatti historian Pierre-Yves Laugier, as well as copies of Bugatti factory documentation and period photos
  • Believed to be one of 76 Type 37A cars built between the summer of 1927 and 1930; a desirable factory-backed supercharged Grand Prix racer

According to the report on file by Bugatti historian Pierre-Yves Laugier, chassis 37317 is one of two Bugatti factory-supported Type 37As which competed in the Targa Florio on 6 May 1928, the other being chassis 37318. The original Bugatti Type 37 factory engine book, a scanned excerpt of which is on file, includes the notation “Course Targa” beside the entry for engines number 265 and 266; these were completed in February 1928 and originally fitted to 37317 and 37318, respectively. This factory documentation clearly identifies these chassis as being the Targa Florio-bound works racing cars.

Further, careful examination of period photographs by historian Tom Clifford indicates that this was the #24 car piloted by Count Caberto Conelli, the son of a wealthy family from Belgirate, Italy, who made his racing debut following World War I and eventually became a works team driver for his friend Ettore Bugatti in the late 1920s. Coming off a 2nd-place finish in the 1927 Targa Florio with Bugatti, Conelli was once again behind the wheel for Bugatti at the 1928 race, this time with chassis 37317. Conelli would have another fine showing, finishing 3rd behind Giuseppe Campari in an Alfa Romeo 6C and the winner, Albert Divo, in a Bugatti Type 35B, making it back-to-back podium finishes for Conelli in a Bugatti.

Retaining the equipment fitted for competition including the long-handle brake, reversed hood louvers, and larger radiator, the car was sold to its first private owner after the race. The factory invoice states that Phillipe de Rothschild, member of the Rothschild banking dynasty and gentleman racer (who was known to compete under the name “George Phillipe”), was delivered the car on the 12 June 1928. However, it is most likely he was acting as an agent helping to cover the cost for the racing driver Jean Gaupillat, the only son of a wealthy family in the munitions industry. Gaupillat would campaign the car at a several events over the years including the San Sebastian Grand Prix for Sports Cars in 1929, where he achieved 4th overall and 1st in class.

Sadly, Jean Gaupillat was killed behind the wheel of a new Bugatti Type 51 after a tragic accident during a race in Dieppe. Following his passing, chassis 37317 was sold in 1932 to Norbert Mahé, known for winning the 1934 10 Hours of Spa, and then to Eugène Dubois in 1934. Dubois would enter the car in two motor races in 1935 and would retain ownership through World War II. In 1949, chassis 37317 had its engine swapped with that originally from chassis 37367, number 268, while at Lamberjack’s garage in Paris during a rebuild.

Just a year later, the car was sold to an American, Dr. L. Cabot Briggs, a longtime Bugatti owner, anthropologist, and Harvard graduate. In 1965 Ray Jones of Michigan purchased chassis 37317 from Briggs and subsequently traded it to Gene Cesari. Prior to this deal, Jones fitted a single downdraft Stromberg carburetor, larger wire wheels, removed the blower and rear axle, and had the clutch converted to a dry plate.

David N. Allison became the owner of this Bugatti in the late 1960s. Still fitted with engine 268 from Chassis 37367, Allison agreed to swap sumps in 1991 with Tom Clifford, who owned Chassis 37367. At the end of the decade Mr. Allison commissioned a long-term restoration by Bugatti specialist Jim Stranberg of High Mountain Classics in Colorado. Apparently prior to Allison’s acquisition, the car had been fitted with the standard, smaller radiator, such as is seen on the car today. Unfortunately, Mr. Allison would not see the completion of the car and his widow, Christina Allison, would go on to arrange for the car to race at the Monterey Historics in 2003 and be shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2004. In 2014, the car entered Terence E. Adderley’s stable, where it has remained in careful climate-controlled display.

While chassis 37317 has received some modifications over the years, this Bugatti benefits from truly magnificent provenance thanks to its podium finish at the 1928 Targa Florio and a host of pre-war racing events around Europe. A genuine factory racecar with great potential, the opportunity to return this chassis to its Targa Florio configuration presents as a thoroughly enticing proposition.