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This 1936 Bugatti Type 57 for Sale Used to Chauffeur Circus Elephants

Check out that hood ornament.

byNico DeMattia|
Bring a Trailer
Bring a Trailer.


Classic Bugattis are things of immense beauty. Everything Bugatti made before the war was breathtakingly pretty and made with exceptional craftsmanship and luxury. So, as you can imagine, this 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux was the perfect vehicle with which to transport elephants for the circus. And it's now for sale on Bring a Trailer.

Only 700 of these Type 57 Ventouxs were made but I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the only one that's had an elephant inside of it—mostly because it looks that way. According to the listing, it was ordered new in 1936 by Roger Spiessert, who was the director and animal tamer for Circus Pinder, a French circus. Legend has it that Spiessert drove the Bugatti around with an Elephant calf inside to promote the circus.

Unfortunately, this Bugatti is in horrid condition. It's completely stripped down to bare metal, there isn't an interior, and it's just a rolling chassis at this point. Its original, 3.3-liter inline-eight engine comes with the car but it isn't running and has a hole in the oil sump. It also comes with a four-speed manual transmission that's also separate. It probably smells better than it did when it was an elephant taxi, though.

Yet, despite its decrepit condition, it isn't cheap, as there are still four days left on the auction and the current bid is at $100,057. This car deserves to be restored to its former glory, as the Type 57 Ventoux was a work of art when it was new. Its coachwork body was also designed by Jean Bugatti, the son of Ettore Bugatti, founder of the brand. Someone with very deep pockets, and potentially a love of elephants, is going to have to restore this old Bugatti. It's going to cost a fortune to do so but such an incredible car can't be left to waste away. Plus, whoever does have it restored will have the coolest car at the next concourse. Did any Duesenbergs taxi elephants around? I think not.

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