With the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance itself going on a summer holiday for 2020, we can take the time to appreciate what makes it a great event. One marque is perhaps more synonymous with the concours than any other, and it’s Bugatti. Nine-time winner of the Best in Show award, which is one more than runner-up Mercedes-Benz, no other marque captures the elegance of the Pebble Beach concours better.
Not only are examples of the French marque regularly featured on the concours lawn, but they’re often available at the nearby Monterey auctions too. Despite the cancellation of the concours, some of those auctions are still scheduled to be held using an online-based format.
While the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance routinely features the creations of Ettore Bugatti (1881–1947) on the concours lawn, the modern 16-cylinder examples are often just steps away. That modern era started with the Veyron, and while the production version appeared at Pebble Beach in 2003, the first U.S. cars wouldn’t arrive until the 2005 model year. The long development period of the Veyron helps explain why later versions are so different from earlier versions. For example, the 2014 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, offered by Bonhams as lot 77 (estimate: $1,800,000–$2,100,000) is a very different car from what first appeared in showrooms in 2005. Both used the quad-turbo W-16 8.0-liter engine in an all-wheel-drive configuration, and while the bump from 1001 hp to 1200 doesn’t sound like much, the top speed went up from 253 mph to almost 268. The additional horsepower and revised aerodynamics helped, but it also got a new carbon tub and bodywork. As a coupe, the revised car weighed 110 pounds less. Handling was revised to be more fun too. With Bonhams offering one of the three examples of the Meo Costantini-edition Grand Sport Vitesse, what could be a better way to enjoy that summer holiday than the ultimate-spec open Veyron?
Unless you prefer the vintage Bugatti approach. If that’s the case, then RM Sotheby’s has what you’re looking for: a 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux. While the lot number and estimate have yet to be announced, the car will likely sell for at least seven figures. What does that get you? For the Type 57C, it’s the supercharged 3.3-liter twin-cam straight-eight engine rated at 160 hp. That engine comes in a car with a well-researched history, which includes likely use as a demonstrator during the 1937 Paris Auto show. And Pierre Veyron (yes, that Veyron) subsequently drove it to Belgium for further demonstrator duties. Restored in the mid-1990s by a marque expert in England, two prominent collectors in the U.S. have owned it since, and it won the “Most Beautiful in Motion” award at Pebble Beach in 1998.
As much as the Bugatti Veyron and Type 57 were the ultimate cars of their day, the current Chiron is the ultimate today. At Bonhams, lot 20 is a 2018 Bugatti Chiron with an estimate of $2,500,000–$2,800,000. Featuring that outrageous 8.0-liter quad-turbo 16-cylinder of the Veyron, but tuned to produce 1500 hp, the Chiron is now restricted to 261 mph. This car features a carbon fiber body tinted a subtle dark green, but there’s nothing subtle about those eight square headlights or the sound that the W-16 produces. The spec of this car also earned it a place at Bugatti’s display at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
While many are disappointed they won’t get to see Bugattis from all eras at Pebble Beach this year, the August auctions provide a reminder of what makes the event and the marque so special.