1929 Bugatti Type 44 Roadster par Frugier For Sale by Auction
Chassis number 441125
Engine number 878/441125
Gearbox number 878
Axle number 878 (12x50)
- "Matching numbers", original engine and bodywork
- Unique, attractive bodywork
- Superb condition
This car is distinguished by the fact that it is still equipped with all its original parts, which is not a common occurrence for a Bugatti! According to the factory archives, it was ordered at the start of 1929 by Léon Boucher, the Bugatti agent in Limoges. Boucher was well known in motoring circles in the area as he took part in several hillclimbs with his Type 35 and Type 43 Bugattis from 1928 onwards (and continued to do so until 1931). Fitted with "temporary two-seat bodywork" comprising a bonnet, two wooden seats and spare wheels, the car was dispatched from Molsheim to Limoges, where it arrived on 14 September. Boucher delivered it to its first owner, René Berthomier, who wished to have a roadster body fitted to it. An architect, he lived at 4, rue de Maupas; this Type 44 is believed to be the only Bugatti he owned.
To produce the bodywork, he turned to a workshop in the city run by René Frugier. The work took about six months, at the end of which the car was graced with attractive two-seat convertible bodywork featuring understated sporting looks and a "dickey seat" at the back with room for a third passenger. On 3 March 1930, Frugier submitted the application to register the car, including the factory report dated 2 September 1929 and signed by E. Pracht, the administrative manager at Molsheim. With the registration number "5401-ZL" and designated as a "2-seat sport torpedo with a rear dickey seat", the Bugatti could now take its place in Berthomier's garage.
Together with his wife, the proud owner presented his new car at the concours d'élégance organised on the occasion of the Rallye Paris-Vichy in June 1930. Entered in the class for "open cars of 10CV and above", the Bugatti 44 was awarded first prize. Following this achievement, it appeared in the July 1930 issue of the magazine L'Équipement automobile.
Berthomier kept the car until April 1935, when it was sold in Paris and assigned the registration 9527 RJ6. After this, any trace of the car was lost and the vehicle registration archives - for the most part destroyed for the period 1900-1950 (the year in which the system was changed) - offer no clues. The car reappeared on 18 May 1955, when it was registered 5082 DX 75 to Emile Gautier, an engineer living at 49, rue de Rome in Paris.
Around 1960, the pretty Bugatti made its way to Henri Novo's new garage at Marolles-en-Hurepoix. His son Jean recalls the car, which had not been driven for several years, suggesting that Gautier may have owned it before 1955. In 1970, it was purchased by Monsieur Seydoux, who had a large collection including more than 20 Bugattis at the time. He kept the car for some 15 years before selling it through Edgar Bensoussan to John Mozart, a resident of Palo Alto, near San Francisco. On 26 January 1989, it was registered in the United States with the number 1 QDP 772. The followed year, it was offered at auction in Chicago and then, at the start of 1991, acquired by its current owner. This Bugatti 44 has therefore been in his ownership for more than 27 years! After purchasing the car, he had a comprehensive mechanical restoration carried out, as can be seen from a collection of photographs. The hood was restored and the leatherette upholstery refurbished using real leather.
Curiously, the name of Kellner is sometimes linked to this car. It was known for Bugatti to entrust some cars to this coachbuilder for repairs or service work, and this may be what happened in this case.
Today, the car is in excellent condition; in particular, it is complete with its bodywork and all its mechanical components and original accessories. A photo taken at the concours d'élégance in Vichy in 1930 and another showing it leaving Frugier's workshops in Limoges demonstrate that it remains identical in every way to its appearance at the time. Its owner confirms that it operates perfectly and starts in all weathers, thanks notably to its period Schebler carburettor. In short, this car with its unique bodywork combines a prestigious name and unquestionable authenticity. In this 8-cylinder 3-litre version, moreover, it exhibits the power, flexibility and performance of the best cars of its time.
Estimation 320 000 - 420 000 €
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