Dr. Harold Carr, an orthopedic surgeon in England, was a recluse in his later years, according to relatives. He never married or had children. So when the doctor died in 2007 at the age of 89, few knew what to expect inside his dusty garage. The last thing Dr. Carrâ€™s relatives expected to find was one of the rarest cars in the world, a 1937 Bugatti 57S Atalante, which The Associated Press said was one of 17 in existence.
The Bugatti, a black two-seater, was delivered to Earl Howe, the first president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and a winner of the 24 Hour Le Mans race, soon after it was completed on May 5, 1937. He kept the car for eight years, adding personal touches including a luggage rack, after which it changed hands a couple of times before Dr Carr bought it from Lord Ridley, a member of the Northumberland gentry, in 1955.
He drove the car for a few years but by the early 1960s it was parked in his garage, where it remained until after his death. It has exceptional originality, retaining original chassis, engine and drivetrain. Even the odometer reading gives a mileage of only 26,284, despite the vehicle being almost 72 years old.
Dr Carr’s nephew said: â€œIt was one of the original supercars. When it was built it could reach 130mph when most cars could only do 50.â€
The Type 57S/SC is one of the best-known Bugatti cars. The “S” stood for “surbaissÃ©” (“lowered”), though most felt it stood for “sport”. It included a v-shaped dip at the bottom of the radiator and mesh grilles on either side of the engine compartment.
Lowering the car was a major undertaking. The rear axle now passed through the rear frame rather than riding under it, and a dry-sump lubrication system was required to fit the engine under the new low hood. The 57S had a nearly-independent suspension in front, though Ettore despised that notion.
Just 40 “surbaissÃ©” cars were built.
The Atalante was a two door coupe body style similar to and built after the Atlantic, built on both the Type 57 and 57S, but with a single piece windscreen and no fin. Only 17 Atalante cars were made, four of which reside in the CitÃ© de l’Automobile Museum in Mulhouse, France (formerly known as the Musee Nationale de L’Automobile de Mulhouse). The name Atalante was derived from a heroine of Greek mythology, Atalanta.
It is expected to bring 3 million pounds ($4.3 million).