Lord Raglan’s cherished Bugatti Type 51 to adorn Bonhams’ Paris Sale
The British auction house Bonhams has another star-spangled showing lined up for the month of February. The 1933 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix two-seater owned by the late Fitzroy John Somerset, the 5th Baron Raglan (1927-2010), Patron and former Chairman of the Bugatti Owners’ Club and trustee of the Bugatti Trust, is to be sold at Bonhams’ Paris sale of Motor Cars on February 5, 2011. The auction will be held at one of Paris’s most picturesque venues – the Grand Palais on the Champs-Elysées.
The Type 51 series succeeded the famous Type 35 as Bugatti’s premier racing car for the 1930s. Lord Raglan, whose great-great grandfather, the 1st Baron, was the general in command of British troops in the Crimean War, was renowned for his love of collectors’ motor cars. “My passion for Bugattis started when I was 18 and I have raced around the world,” he once said.
“If Bugatti-worship were a religion, then the atheist Fitzroy Somerset, the 5th Lord Raglan, would have been its pope,” quoted Lord Raglan’s obituary in The Guardian (April 18, 2010).
In 1998, following in the hallowed footsteps of Ettore Bugatti and Earl Howe, Lord Raglan was elected as the third Patron of the Bugatti Owners’ Club in its 80-year history, upon his retirement from an exceptionally successful period as the club’s chairman.
Lord Raglan bought this Bugatti Type 51 in 1979 and restored it himself over the next two and a half years, subsequently racing it for the next 20 years. The antique vehicle, which spells class and grandeur, is now expected to sell for an estimated €1,000,000 – 1,400,000 (£800,000 – 1,150,000). Also on offer at the sale from the Estate of Lord Raglan is his 1930 Bugatti Type 46 Cabriolet, with coachwork by Figoni, estimated at €250,000 – 300,000 (£200,000 – 250,000).
This is not the first time that the house of Bonhams has offered a Bugatti owned by a former Patron of the Bugatti Owners’ Club at one of their Parisian auctions. In 2009, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S, originally owned by Earl Howe, sold for a whopping €3.4 million.