Skip to main content

If you’ve been on the fence about buying a vintage Bugatti, now might be the time! The values of these “prewar” French race cars and grand tourers is plummeting. Admittedly, that means some are changing hands for $1.5 million, not $2 million. So most are out of reach for most of us mere peasants. But not all of them. And the market is softening for a fascinating reason, the likes of which we’ll probably never see again.

I previously covered the closing of the Mullin Museum in Oxnard, CA. It was the largest collection of early French cars around. It exhibited the personal Bugatti collection of Peter Mullin as well as the world’s largest collection of unrestored Bugattis, the Schlumpf Reserve collection. Peter Mullin died last fall and his family has decided to sell the cars. This is the largest group of Bugattis on the auction block, well…ever. And theres’ no way we’ll ever see something like this again in our lifetimes.

So how will this affect the vintage Bugatti market? I expect the one-of-a-kind top end cars will keep their value. For example, Peter Mullin owned one of three existing Bugatti Type 57 Atlantics. This is an iconic grand tourer Bugatti so rare, even Jay Leno can’t buy one. In 2010, Mullin bought it for $30 million. I expect its current value will rival the world’s most expensive car: a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO that went for $70 million earlier this year.

Yellow and blue Bugatti Grand Touring coupe.
Bugatti Type 57 | Brakeet via Wikimedia Commons

In the middle of the market are Type 57 Bugatti Grand Tourers with other body styles. According to, these cars’ average resale value hit $2.75 million in February 2021. They dipped a bit, then came back up to $2.3 million in August 2023, staying there until last month. Then they plummeted to $1.5 million. You honestly don’t ever see vintage Bugatti prices nosedive like this.

There are also the open wheel Grand Prix style race cars such as the Bugatti Type 35. reports values dipped in that same 2021 slump. But from late 2021 until 2023, they held at an average well above $3 million. Then last fall they began to slide and now they are plummeting. For the first time in five years, the average Type 35 resale is below $2 million.

I know, still completely out of reach for most of us. Even if you could afford a $2 million race car, you’d probably be scared to ever drive it. But Type 57s and 35s are among the most expensive Bugattis. And remember that huge collection of “unrestored” cars at the same museum? Well those cars flooding the market might really change prices.

Vintage Bugatti classic race car in a courtyard
Bugatti Type 35 | iLikeWaffles via Wikimedia Commons

Even before this market crash, I’ve seen less desirable vintage Bugattis go for between $200k and $100k. We’re talking open top cars with four cylinder engines that needed some love. But Bugattis nonetheless.

That’s more than I’ll spend on my next project. But if you think about it, numbers-matching muscle cars in showroom condition go for $100k. And if you have that kind of dough around, a Bugatti race car makes for a much more unique project. So here’s to hoping that some of the Bugatti “projects” coming up for sale this winter can introduce a whole new generation of enthusiasts to these beautiful, quirky old cars.

The Gooding and Co auction house will be handling sales of the Mullin Collection at a series of auctions this spring. The first was on March 1st, and while those sale prices are reflected in Classic.coms latest Bugatti values, they aren’t yet public. The biggest auction will be after the museum closes its doors for good this April. So start saving your pennies!

Next, read what made Bugatti the most innovative sports car company 100 years ago, or find out what driving a 1928 Grand Prix style Bugatti is like in the video below: