A very rich museum has made the 1930s Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic the world's most expensive car ever sold. The Mullin Automotive Museum located in Oxnard, California must have some fantastic benefactors as they spent between US$30 and $40 million on a Type 57SC Atlantic at the Gooding Classic Car Auction on May 5th 2010 . The previous record was for a 1960s Ferrari GTO that a British buyer bought from Lee Kun-Hee, the former CEO and Chairman of Samsung Electronics.
The Type 57S and the 57SC is among the best known Bugattis. The "S" stood for "surbaissé" or in English, lowered, though most felt it stood for "sport". The way Bugatti lowered the car was a major undertaking. The rear axle now passed through the rear frame rather than riding under it, and a dry-sump lubrication system was incorporated to the engine to fit the engine under the new low hood.
Just 43 Type 57Ss were built but only two supercharged Type 57SC cars were built new, but most 57S owners wanted the additional power afforded by the blower. Therefore, most of the original Type 57S cars returned to the factory at Molsheim for the installation of a supercharger, pushing output from 175 hp to 200 hp and top speed went up to 195km/h. So many 57S became a 57SC.
The Type 57SC Atlantic that is the subject matter of this article featured flowing coupe lines with a trademark pronounced dorsal seam running front to back. It is a rebodied Type 57SC based on the 1935 Aérolithe concept car. Just four units with the Atlantic body were produced and only two of the cars survive. One is in the collection of a certain Mr. Ralph Lauren, the second was owned by the late Dr. Peter Williamson, and won the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. And it is this late Doctor's car that the above mentioned museum bought.
Those days, people didn't seem to keep their cars properly and there were so few rich enough people to buy customized version of cars (which were still a rare item in the 1930s). I doubt if the new Veyron will be as collectible as this. Most new cars seem to last a long time and there will be hundreds of Veyrons running around and cherished.