BUGATTI 37A/35B RETURNS TO FRANCE FOR BONHAMS PARIS AUCTION

Built in France in 1929, the Bugatti 37A started life as a four-cylinder Grand Prix model used exclusively for competition.

It was first owned by Briton Jack Lemon Burton – founder member of the Bugatti Owners’ Club – whose father gave it to him as a 21st birthday present in 1932 and, having subsequently tuned the engine, he towed the car to races around the country.

Three years later it was bought by solicitor Alan Bainton who left the engine beyond repair at a race in Brooklands in 1935. As a result his mechanic, Louis Giron, installed the engine of Bainton’s Type 43 into the Type 37A, producing what was effectively a Type 35B Bugatti.

Bainton was later jailed for fraud and Lady Mary Grosvenor, daughter of the Duke of Westminster, puchased the car from Blake Brothers of Liverpool, adding to the car’s colorful history.

A keen racing driver, she set the ladies’ Bugatti race record at Prescott in June 1947 driving Chassis 37371 with a time of 52.79 seconds – a record that stood for 35 years.

In 1948, the Bugatti was acquired once again by the Blake Brothers, who were forced to sell it four years later to Robert Estes of California when its director, Peter Reece Blake, was killed in a car crash. His death caused the British company to go out of business.

Following the tragedy of the Blake Brothers, Chassis 37371, which has an estimate of €1,500,000-1,800,000, was destined to spend the next five decades in America.

There it competed in West Coast events after display at the Briggs Cunningham museum for 15 years during the 1950s and 60s and is thought to have made its last race appearance in 1977 under the ownership of the Estes family.

In 2007 the car was given a complete rebuild by Gentry restorations and is now in superb condition.

Philip Kantor, Head of Bonhams Motor Cars Europe, said: “This Bugatti has a history that is comprehensive and fascinating but, most importantly, continuous and fully documented. Owned by Jack Lemon Burton and subsequent well-known car enthusiasts, we look forward to being able to offer it at auction back on home soil in France.”

The 1929 Bugatti 37A/35B is for sale at the Bonhams Grand Palais Sale on 6 February 2014.

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