These fabulous machines are rare as hen’s teeth, so would-be pilots can only dream of taking to the road in one – but what a dream. Only 38 supercharged Bugatti Type 55s were ever made, over half of those in the launch year, 1932.
These were true supercars intended for the very rich and the apparently limited production run stands up well beside Ettore Bugatti s contemporaneous attempt to produce the ultimate in motoring luxury – the glorious but ill-fated Type 41 Royale.
The Type 55 came into being after the famous Bugatti Type 35 racing car reached the end of its shelf life after sweeping all before it in the 1920s – track success that duly led to a road-going version, the Type 43 Grand Sport. But it became obvious to Ettore and his son Jean that the Type 35 had to be replaced, and the pleasing result was the Type 51, shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1930 and destined to continue Bugatti’s winning ways on Europe’s motor-racing circuits.
Although the four-seater Type 43 Grand Sport was well liked and still selling well, Jean persuaded his father to launch the Type 55 Super Sport – a spectacular derivative of the Type 51 racer. The new two-seater Super Sport had an engine carried over from the racing car, but fitted to a broader ladder chassis more suitable for stable roadwork – a combination that offered the sort of impressive top speed and first-class road holding expected by those willing to pay a handsome premium price.
The factory offered a standard coupe body, but this was quickly eclipsed by a simply stunning two-seater roadster body designed by Jean Bugatti when he was just 22 years old, which unsurprisingly proved to be the popular choice of the well-heeled purchasers of this all-time great.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1932 (until 1935)
2,262 CC DOHC Straight Eight
Top speed was 112 mph (180 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Jean Bugatti’s sublime roadster body is recognized as one of the most elegant ever to grace an automobile – ensuring that the few surviving examples have taken their place right at the top of the classic car pricelist.