It’s safe to say that Paris in the winter is nothing short of magical. With the snow gently falling and the city alive and well, it was the perfect setting for The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Awards.
The third annual Awards show saw eight classic cars compete to win the coveted title of Best of the Best – a worthy feat when seeing the contenders. Amongst the finalists included a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider, a 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Cabriolet, a 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale Prototipo, a 1933-35 Lancia Astura Coupé, a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet, a 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Roaster and a 1964 ATS 2500 GTS Coupé.
Having taken in the surroundings of the incredible Peninsula Paris, located a stone’s throw away from the Arc de Triomphe, we began the evening with champagne at Le Lobby – where the ceremony would be hosted. As the who’s who of the motoring world began to arrive, we made way to our table for a luxurious private dinner worthy of the esteemed company. With conversation and merriment in full swing, it was time to announce the winning car.
We were ushered down to the subterranean garage of the hotel, where the winner was awaiting our presence. Following an incredible unveiling, we got a first look at the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Coupé Atlantic. The stunning model – one of only four ever made – took everyone’s breath away, and understandably so.
Powered by a supercharged engine and considered by many to be the first supercar ever made, the vehicle was designed at the height of the art deco movement by Jean Bugatti, Ettore Bugatti’s son. Jean based the car on his other design, the 1935 Aérolithe concept car, which was famously riveted externally, for fear of the magnesium-alloy body parts catching fire. Jean kept this signature riveted seam on the all-aluminium body of the Atlantic.
This model, chassis number 57374, was the first Type 57 Atlantic produced and is the only surviving “Aéro Coupé,” a designation given to the first two cars that were mechanically very similar to the Aérolithe. The car was delivered new in 1936 to Britain’s Nathaniel Mayer Victor Rothschild, third Baron Rothschild, and has since passed through few owners in its 82-year history. The car has been displayed internationally, and most recently, was on display at the Los Angeles-based Petersen Automotive Museum for the “Art of Bugatti” exhibit.
Co-owned by the Mullin Automotive Museum and Rob and Melani Walton, Mr. Mullin, on winning this prestigious award said, “The Atlantic represents the pinnacle of everything I adore about French automotive styling and is widely described as the Mona Lisa of the automobile collector world.”