Today’s article is about the very special and rare 1954 Bugatti Type 101C two-seater fixed-head coupé with unique coachwork by Antem, which was one of the last 1950s Molsheim built Bugattis. Only seven of these evolutionary T57s were ever built, one prototype and six production cars.
This 101C, chassis and engine #101504, once belonged to American actor Nicholas Cage of Carmichael in California. Can you remember his Miura of an earlier article? It seems that he collects cars and not just young supercars. I must say he has a GREAT taste concerning cars.
The Bugatti will be actioned at Bonhams’ Chantilly Sale coming Saturday. If you bring between €1.5 and 1.8 million then here is perhaps your chance to become the owner of this fabulous car! I say perhaps, because you never know where the bidding will stop, especially with Bugattis. Next to this 101C there is also a 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Drophead Coupé with coachwork by Albert D’Ieteren from Brussels being auctioned, as well as a number of other fine cars such as the alien-like Maserati Boomerang.Chassis #101504 was first registered on 19th May 1954 as ‘572 BS 67’ with a dark green body and beige leather interior. It is said that this Bugatti was owned by the French industrialist René Bolloré, who in 1951 had married Ettore Bugatti’s second wife and widow, Geneviève Delcuze. Interesting facts. In 1959 the 101C passed through the trade of the well-known Belgian Bugatti dealer Jean DeDobbeleer, who sold it to his trusted US customer Gene Cesari. Later on it was owned by super star Nicholas Cage, followed by a number of wealthy American collectors, among them Bill Harrah. But the car was destined to spend most of its life dusty garages, and today the odometer of this ‘spoiled’ Bugatti reads less than 14,000 kilometers! It won’t win the preservation class, because this master of rarity has changed color from its original deep green with red accents and it has also been re-trimmed. But apart from that the 101C coupé remains in remarkably original condition throughout.
With the car come a lot of files and documented history by marque specialists Pierre-Yves Laugier and David Sewell, which is what customers of these cars like, right?
After the hard times of WW2 for the Molsheim factory and the death of Ettore Bugatti on 21st August 1947, the Bugatti Works attempted to overcome the war marks and to restart production of cars! It was September 1949 and the plan was to start with the manufacture of 16 further examples of the pre-war Type 57/57C model, but only three were eventually completed.
In 1951 Bugatti re-launched the marque with an improved Type 57 chassis, as the basis for the new – there we have it – Type 101! The 101 was revealed at the Salon de l’Automobile in Paris in October 1951, where two models were shown, a drophead coupé and a coach, both by Gangloff of Colmar. For this we have to thank Ettore’s younger son Roland Bugatti and factory manager Pierre Marco, who both did their best to keep the business alive after Ettore’s death. Sadly the 1951 re-launch didn’t have the effect that was hoped for as very few orders were received…
The T101, which was based on the pre-war T57 chassis and which was powered by the 3,257cc twin-cam straight-eight engine that had already appeared in 1934, was by now quite dated… Roland and Marco had tried to improve on this by replacing the obsolete pre-war Stromberg carburettor with an up-to-date downdraught Weber carburettor and by installing an electromagnetic Cotal gearbox (optional) and 17″ instead of 18″ wheels. Like the T57 two versions of the T101 were offered, with and without supercharger. No attempt was made to modernize the suspension, so the T101 also had the traditional Bugatti rigid front axle, in an era when almost all cars had some form of independent front suspension.The Molsheim factory intended to produce 50 cars for delivery in July 1952, but in the end only six T101s were completed (plus one prototype), mainly due to bad finances. This makes the T101 one of the rarer of Molsheim’s production. The price for a T101 was a staggering 3.8 million francs, so no wonder that the model didn’t sell in a period of austerity and only a very few were sold… All six production T101s were sold, chassis #101500 to #101506, of which only #101505 is missing out. The T101 prototype was to stay for many years with Pierre Marco at the Molsheim factory.Luckily all of the seven T101s are still around, three of which in the French National Motor Museum at Mulhouse.
Now that the T101(C) has been introduced, we can turn to the coachbuilders of these Bugattis! In the end only two T101s were clothed by a Parisian coachbuilder, the car which is the subject of this article, chassis #101504, and chassis #101502 which was clothed as a coach by Guilloré.
Jean Antem did the remarkable and sporting coupé body for chassis #101504. He had set up business in 1919 and did bodies in a wide variety of styles. Antem’s creations on quality chassis such as Bentley, Delahaye, Hispano-Suiza and Bugatti are quite rare and sought after! So this T101C should most likely sell well at the Chantilly Sale.One wonders where this piece of Bugatti history will go next? We should know after this coming weekend.
Up Next the alien-like Maserati BOOMERANG.
Written by Rosemarijn Atalante Veenenbos
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