A Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic named “La Voiture Noire” that went missing back in the 1930s is likely the world’s most valuable car. 83 years after its disappearance, no one knows where this ultra-rare Bugatti is. While reason indicates that this car was likely broken up at some point, experts believe it is still out there.
According to The Drive, four Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupes left the factory back in the 1930s. However, only one remains missing. Additionally, the concept car that spawned these coach-built machines also remains missing.
What is a Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic?
As its name suggests, the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe utilized the Type 57 as its base. According to Hemmings, Bugatti developed the Type 57 platform in the early 1930s to serve as the base for both race cars and luxury grand tourers. However, in 1935, the French carmaker developed the Aerolithe concept.
The Aerolithe Coupe concept featured a magnesium alloy construction commonly known as Elektron. Since manufacturers mostly used this material to build aircraft, it was tough to produce a passenger vehicle with it. However, in the mid-1930s, Bugatti opted to put the concept into production with an aluminum body, and thus the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe was born.
According to Hemmings, four of these Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupes left the factory throughout the 1930s. Only one of these Coupes remains unaccounted for today. The missing car affectionately named “La Voiture Noire” is chassis 57453. Under its hood lies a supercharged 3.3-liter inline-eight developing around 200 hp.
How did this ultra-rare car disappear?
Toward the end of the 1930s, several European countries began to prepare as Germany moved to invade neighboring countries. Fearing that the Germans would make it into France, Ettore Bugatti decided to close up his factory in Molsheim and ship all of his building materials to Bordeaux. This included several unfinished cars and “La Voiture Noire.”
However, as Hemmings points out, the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe never made it. Additionally, this final car wasn’t sold or registered like the three other examples. As a result, it was very difficult to track and keep records of.
According to Bugatti itself, there are no official records of the car after 1938. As a result, it remains missing for over 83 years at this point. According to Hemmings, this missing treasure is worth around 114 million if found today.
The Aerolithe concept is missing too
Before there even was a Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe, there was the Aerolithe Concept. However, reports indicate that this car is missing as well. Outside of the 1930s, there are no records indicating where the concept car went. However, unlike “La Voiture Noire,” experts do not believe the concept car is still out there.
According to CarBuzz, the Aerolithe Coupe was likely dismantled after completing its role as a concept car. Since this show car contained parts useful for building the Type 57s, Bugatti likely repurposed it in other vehicles. However, its unique bodywork never resurfaced. As a result, we’re left with more questions than answers surrounding these iconic Bugatti models.