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Rare Restoration Project: 1923 Bugatti

Bugatti has a history of producing some of the most desirable classics to grace the world’s roads. It spent decades flirting with bankruptcy, and even under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group as its halo marque, it sells every car at a financial loss. However, its older models garner attention among enthusiasts, and even the roughest project candidate can command an eye-watering price. That brings us to this 1923 Bugatti. It represents a significant restoration project, and the new owner faces a vast shopping list of parts before it comes close to seeing active service. However, it needs a new home, with the seller listing it here on Craigslist in Auburn, California. I said these cars aren’t cheap, and this one will cost its next owner $35,000. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder milton for spotting this rare thoroughbred.

The seller isn’t forthcoming with specific details about this Bugatti, but my research suggests it may be a Type 30 Roadster produced between 1922 and 1926. The company had a successful motorsport program, and it brought much of what it learned in that field to the Type 30. It was powered by its race-bred 2.0-liter Straight-Eight powerplant featuring multi-valve technology. The capacity may have been modest, but it sent 70hp to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. However, buyers with enough cash could specify an upgrade to the motor, including replacing the original Zenith carburetor with ones from Solex. This pushed the engine’s power to 100hp, meaning it could effortlessly surpass the “standard” car’s top speed of 75mph. So, what does the buyer get for their money with this Bugatti? They receive the body, hood, deck lid, windshield frame, dash, ID Tag, and radiator in excellent condition. That’s not much, and sourcing the missing items will involve considerably more effort than popping down to the local pick-a-part. Having a replica chassis fabricated to the correct specifications would not be complicated or expensive, but finding the appropriate drivetrain components will be costly and time-consuming. However, taking shortcuts with a car of this caliber, especially one where the entry point is so expensive, isn’t a genuine option. That is why I believe this seller may receive few genuine inquiries and that it will require someone with a thick wallet and extraordinary passion to return this car to its former glory.

If this Bugatti is the model I believe it to be, the company built approximately six hundred examples during its production run. It is unclear how many survive, but their desirability means they command stratospheric prices in the classic market. Whether this one represents a viable restoration project is questionable. However, an enthusiast might be undertaking the restoration of another Type 30 requiring genuine panels. If so, they may view this as a goldmine. That will probably be the fate of these items, and if it results in another veteran Bugatti returning to our roads, that’s fine by me.


  1. Al

    Probably the most economical car to buy. No running gear, means you can sit in front of a TV screen and race the Le Mans. Thrill of a lifetime and no need to fly to Europe.

    Like 19
    • RMac

      Looks like the ultra rare corrugated trash can grill LOL

      Like 7
  2. Joseph

    It is going to take more than a mountain of cash to make a car out of this. Is the garbage can included in the sale?

    Like 5
    • Steve

      Bugatti Trash Can is extra.

      Like 3
  3. Steveo

    Wonder where the rest went. I can’t see tearing a Bugatti apart to put a different body on it. It’s not like you are going to save weight, add a row of seats, or even chase aerodynamics. I suppose you could ask Pur Sang to run you up the bits to complete a car…

    Like 1
    • TomP

      I agree. It would be interesting to know where the rest of the car went. I’ll bet it was the victim of a re-body. Way back then, these cars were not valuable, and rebodies into racers or other types of cars happened alot.

      Like 3
    • anthony lathrop

      Not sure if this is an example, but some of those cars sheet metal was foil thin – and some were magnesium. It is possible for those bodies to corrode to almost nothing. I know a metalsmith who made all new sheet metal for a 1920s Bugatti because there was almost nothing left of the original. See the result here https://cdn.bankerwire.com/uploads/2019/02/1935-bugatti-57sc-restoration1453671905.jpg

      Like 0
  4. MrBobbbb

    Hmmm. A Bugatti for sale in AUBURN? I’d rather have the Auburn (or Cord, or a Deusenberg).

    Like 4
  5. Terry

    Slap it on a Beetle pan and call it good.

    Like 2
    • DavidL Member

      This caused me to laugh out loud! Just got of of a ~’27 Bugatti kitcar that’d been sitting in the garage for far too long. And, yes it was built on a VW.

      Like 2
  6. Martin Horrocks

    Bugatti world is amazingly connected. But not via Craigslist

    Like 2
  7. Tom Lange

    Bugatti’s are perhaps the best-documented of all pre-war cars, and it should be relatively easy to determine whether the chassis and running gear still survive, probably in another car.

    Like 2
  8. George Birth

    This sellers hope are as high as his asking price. Lets see now, no motor, trans, rear end, frame, or seats. Appears to me to be rather highly over priced. I saw a 2019 Chevy 1/2 ton PU for $20K, I would rather buy the chevy as it could pay for itself over time rather than a pile of limited use parts. I’ve better use for my hard earned cash.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      If you’re comparing the values of classic cars to modern trucks, maybe you’re on the wrong site.

      Like 14
  9. Bob “THE ICEMAN”

    OK, a piece of history sits on the concrete floor, no chassis, no engine, no transmission or rear end. Just the name Bugatti, which elicits $$$$$ in any segment of the classic auto market. Before anybody could hope to buy this dissected body, check to find out how many are currently in existence. The best you could ever end up with is selling the body to some European collector in Switzerland who needs one or all of the pieces. If you cobble this together as an equivalent “restomod” you shouldn’t pay more than $3,000.00 for what you see in the images right now. Then and only then you will have to pump in about $30,000.00 to end up with a roadster that will cause most Americans to ask: “what the heck is that thing” and most women to say: “ isn’t that cute”.

    Like 2
  10. Bill

    Someone call @waynecarini he and his crew can bring it back to life

    Like 3
  11. Frank

    Put a sbc in it

    Like 0
  12. Rodney - GSM

    It looks like this car was trying desperately to kill itself by squeezing into the trash can when no one was looking.
    “Sometimes dead is better.”

    Like 0
    • RMac

      Bill yup perfect match one with no body and one with no frame or drivetrain. But what happens to the garbage can. I can probably afford that

      Like 1

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