On this day in 2009, media outlets report that a rare unrestored 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupe has been found in the garage of a British doctor. A month later, on February 7, the car sold at a Paris auction for some $4.4 million.
The black two-seater, one of just 17 57S Atalante Coupes ever made by Bugatti, had been owned by English orthopedic surgeon Harold Carr since 1955. Carr, who died in 2007, reportedly had kept the rare vehicle parked in his garage since the early 1960s and hadn't driven it in five decades. The car was built in May 1937 and originally owned by Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon, the 5th Earl Howe. Curzon was also the first president of the British Racing Drivers' Club and a winner of the 24 Hour Le Mans race.
When it was built, the 57S Atalante Coupe was capable of reaching speeds of more than 120 miles per hour at a time when the average car couldn't do more than 50 miles per hour. It was also notable for its low-slung frame and V-shaped radiator and featured pig-skin upholstery. At the time of the auction, Carr's car was said to be in good condition and had 26,284 miles on its odometer.
The Bugatti car company was founded in 1909 by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti (1881-1947) in present-day Molsheim, France, and became known for producing expensive, cutting-edge sports cars and racing cars. From the time of its founding until the 1940s, the company built fewer than 8,000 cars. Following the death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947, the company went into decline and changed hands several times. In 1998, Volkswagen bought the rights to build cars under the Bugatti name. In 2009, the company introduced the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, a sports car convertible which was capable of speeds of some 253 miles per hour and carried a price tag of more than $2 million. The Veyron could reach 60 mph is under 2.5 seconds.