1951 Bugatti Type 101 C Antem Coupé

World War II and its aftermath caused Bugatti to fall into financial disarray at the close of the 1940’s, spelling the end of Ettore Bugatti’s enterprise. The Molsheim facilities had been ruined by the retreating Germans after been occupied by the Reich to build torpedoes and Hans Trippel’s amphibious vehicles and its personnel and machinery had been whipsawed back and forth across France by successive wartime regimes. Ettore Bugatti was isolated in Paris, and judged a belligerent by the post-war government because of his Italian citizenship and his property was then stripped of. His death in 1947, at 58 years old, ended up splitting the remains of the Bugatti enterprise along his heirs from both marriages.

Nevertheless, not only to honor its tradition but also apparently from a sense of duty felt by the family, the workers, and the designers who had labored under le patron’s influence, Bugatti once more emerged from the wrecks. In 1947 Paris Salon, Bugatti showcased the Type 73; a one liter supercharged design intended both as a road and racecar. This was, however, too ambitious for the Molsheim facility to build in quantity and it never passed the prototype stage.

Four years passed in which the family partially settled its differences and the Molsheim works were rebuilt, supported by orders from the French railways for parts and service on the Royale-engined Bugatti railcars, subcontract production of weaving looms, castings and machining work for Citroën. But the Bugatti automobile remained central to the Bugatti tradition and general manager, Pierre Marco, along with Roland Bugatti – the youngest of Ettore’s children from his first marriage – created the Type 101, essentially based on the Type 57 chassis but with an updated 3.3-litre supercharged straight-eight engine. The improvements included a downdraught Weber carburetor to replace the obsolete prewar Stromberg and an electric Cotal gearbox. Its coachwork, however, was thoroughly modern, including the then-modern pontoon fenders, owing only a curved and stylized Bugatti horseshoe radiator grille to classic Bugatti designs.

The Type 101 was presented at the 1951 Paris Salon, of which two examples were shown. These were a convertible and a coupe, both bodied by Gangloff. However, the Type 101’s faith was determined not by its character or appearance but by Bugatti’s decision to leave the Type 57 engine’s displacement intact, putting it in a 17 cheveaux vapeur fiscal horsepower class which imposed confiscatory annual taxes under post-war French regulations. Only eight Type 101s were ever built. The chassis 101 504 would then be sent to Antem of Paris and become the unique Type 101 C Antem Coupé, arguably the most striking and beautiful Type 101.

Sold out of France by DeDobbeleer to Robert Stanley, the Type 101 C Antem Coupé then became an important part of the fabled collection of Bill Harrah, where it rested until 1986, when it was sold to prominent French automobile proponent, Jacques Harguindeguy. It then passed through the hands of Geneviève Delcuze and then to its most famous owner, Nicholas Cage, who sold it in 2005. The buyer was Gene Ponder, whos extensive collection was sold auctioned in April 2007 by RM Auctions. With just 11,369km reading on the odometer, the highest bidder payed $990,000 US for “The Last Bugatti”.

Its last appearance of Chassis No. 101504 was in 8th June 2008, at the Classy Chassis Meeting, in the proud hands of its current owner John O’Quinn.

RM Auction

101504 was sold at RM Auctions’ Sporting Classics of Monaco sale but did not sell with a high bid of €375.000 against an estimate of €500.000-€750.000. It was described as “Brilliantly presented in black over red, the Bugatti Type 101 Van Antem coupé has been sympathetically maintained in highly original condition by its succession of owners. Equipped with a Cotal pre-selector gearbox, it is visually arresting, highly original and absolutely unique not only for its celebrity ownership history, but also because it is the only example of the Type 101 with this coachwork. It represents the swan song of a revered French marque that lay dormant for four decades, before the introduction of the EB110 and, most recently, the Veyron. With its impressive supercharged engine, the Van Antem coupé is ready to be driven, enjoyed, and appreciated both for its outstanding condition and as an exceptional example of the passion and dedication that is Ettore Bugatti’s legacy.”

Story by João de Góis Silva

Pictures & Gallery

See full 1951 Bugatti Type 101 C Antem Coupé Gallery here

Specs & Performance

   
type Series Production Car
built at Molsheim, France
body stylist Van Antem
coachbuilder Antem
engineers Pierre Marco, Roland Bugatti
production 1
predecessor 1935 Bugatti Type 57S Prototype
engine Inline-8 w/dry sump lubrication
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Bugatti Roots-type Supercharger
block material Iron Alloy
valvetrain DOHC, 2 Valves per Cyl
fuel feed Downdraft Webers
displacement 3257 cc / 198.75 in³
bore 72 mm / 2.8 in
stroke 100 mm / 3.9 in
compression 8.5:1
power 149.1 kw / 200 bhp @ 5500 rpm
specific output 61.41 bhp per litre
redline 5500
body / frame Steel body over Steel ladder frame
driven wheels RWD
wheel type 17 inch Wire wheels
front brakes Drums
rear brakes Drums
steering Worm & Roller
f suspension Semi-Indpenedant Centrally Collared Axles w/de Ram Shock Absorbers, Leaf Springs
r suspension Solid Axle w/de Ram Shock Absorbers, Quarter-EllipticLeaf Springs
wheelbase 2979 mm / 117.3 in
front track 1349 mm / 53.1 in
rear track 1349 mm / 53.1 in
transmission Cotal electrically-controlled gearbox

Auction Sales History

1951 Bugatti Type 101 C Antem Coupé

1950 Bugatti Type 101 Van Antem Coupe 101504 Coupe – sold for $616,000 The only Van Antem-bodied Bugatti Type 101. Mechanicals derived from the legendary prewar Type 57. Ex-Harrah, Harguindeguy, Cage. A stellar example of the last Bugatti model produced.
Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM

1951 Bugatti Type 101 C Antem Coupé

1951 Bugatti Type 101 Van Antem Coupé 10154 – did not sell for €375,000 Chassis 101504 then became an important part of the fabled collection of casino magnate Bill Harrah before being sold to prominent French automobile proponent, Jacques Harguindeguy. From there it was acquired by film star Nicolas Cage, who said of this car, “I think Bugattis are the zenith of automobile design and I am particularly impressed by the Van Antem.” Cage sold the car to collector Gene Ponder in 2002 before it was acquired by the O’Quinn Collection in 2006.

Brilliantly presented in black over red, the Bugatti Type 101 Van Antem coupé has been sympathetically maintained in highly original condition by its succession of owners. Equipped with a Cotal pre-selector gearbox, it is visually arresting, highly original and absolutely unique not only for its celebrity ownership history, but also because it is the only example of the Type 101 with this coachwork. It represents the swan song of a revered French marque that lay dormant for four decades, before the introduction of the EB110 and, most recently, the Veyron. With its impressive supercharged engine, the Van Antem coupé is ready to be driven, enjoyed, and appreciated both for its outstanding condition and as an exceptional example of the passion and dedication that is Ettore Bugatti’s legacy.

Auction Source: 2010 RM Auctions Sporting Classics of Monaco