A new world record for the most expensive Bugatti sold at an auction has been set by a 1934 Bugatti Type 59 sports car that was once owned by former Belgian monarch King Leopold III. The incredibly rare and historic Bugatti was offered at Gooding & Company’s inaugural London auction which was supposed to take place on April 1. The California-based auction house was forced to change the dates because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Considered to be the ultimate Bugatti Grand Prix car, this particular car was a top performer among non-standard race cars before World War II. It achieved an outright win at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa and a third-place finish at the Monaco Grand Prix at the hands of famous French racing driver René Dreyfus during the 1934-35 season. As a part of Bugatti’s official racing team, the car was also piloted by some of the greatest racing stars of the era, including Robert Benoist, Louis Chiron René Dreyfus, Piero Taruffi, Achille Varzi, and Jean-Pierre Wimille.
After retiring from racing, the Type 59 was sent back to the Bugatti factory where it was transformed into a sports car by fitting a new gearbox along with a road-adapted chassis and bodywork. The Bugatti blue color of the body was also painted over with black and sold to Leopold III in 1937. According to Gooding & Company, the car has only had five different owners since and it has been beautifully preserved in the original condition, without any restoration or modifications. The auction house went on to say that the chassis number 57248 is without a doubt the most important and authentic of all the Bugatti race cars. It created history by selling for £9.535 million (about $12.5 million), including the auction house’s sales commission.