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Magneto’s ten favourite cars from the Mullin Museum


After much deliberation, we’ve selected our top ten favourite cars from the Mullin Automotive Museum in California. This decision comes in light of the unfortunate news of the museum’s permanent closure following the recent passing of Peter Mullin. It has been confirmed that 20 cars from the Mullin Collection will be sold in Gooding & Co.’s Amelia Island sale on Thursday, February 29 and Friday, March 1. In addition, Gooding & Co. will also hold a standalone auction at the museum this coming April, where it will present an additional assortment of vehicle and automobilia lots from the collection. More details on that auction will be announced in coming weeks.

10: 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia ‘Lady of the Lake’

For more than 70 years, the tranquil waters of Lake Maggiore concealed one of the most remarkable finds in automotive history. This car, a 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia, was discovered 170 feet beneath those very waters in 2009. The Lady of the Lake was then purchased by Peter Mullin in a Bonhams auction in January 2010, and it has remained a key draw to the Mullin Museum ever since. Back in the 1930s, the car belonged to Grand Prix driver René Dreyfus, and the story of how it ended up in the depths of Lake Maggiore is truly fascinating. It involves a drunken poker game, the tragic murder of a local boy and an ambitious recovery effort by an amateur diving club.

9: 1936 Delahaye Type 135CS Grand Prix

The Delahaye Type 135CS was borne from the 1935 merger between two of France’s greatest pre-war marques: Delahaye and Delage. Despite its elegant bodywork, the 135CS was designed with only one purpose in mind: competition. This particular car was commissioned by Henri Toulouse for the 1936 Grand Prix season, and was extensively campaigned in period. Its career highlights include victory at the 1938 Le Mans Grand Prix. After finishing its racing career, the racer was restored by British collector Ian Polson in 1968. It was then purchased by Peter Mullin in 1999, and he enjoyed driving it in vintage motor sport events ever since.

8: 1939 Bugatti Type 64

The Bugatti Type 64 is perhaps the most controversial mode in the Mullin’s vast collection. The Type 64 was masterminded by Jean Bugatti as the successor to the legendary Type 57. Three cars were slated for production, but the tragic death of Jean Bugatti in 1939 meant that only the first two cars were fully completed. The third, 64002, was purchased as a rolling chassis by Peter Mullin, and for years he agonised over whether to have it fitted with a body – particularly after the chassis itself won a prize at Pebble Beach in 2002. Eventually, Peter decided to go through with the project, and worked with Stewart Reed Design and Automobile Metal Shaping, who referenced period documents to create the bodywork as authentically as possible. The finished car debuted at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in 2013. 

7: 1923 Voisin Type C6 Laboratoire

As the name suggests, Gabriel Voisin’s pioneering Laboratoire road racers were designed as a test platform for cutting-edge automotive technologies. Sporting alloy bodywork and an aerodynamic monocoque chassis, the Type C6 was designed in response to new regulations from the Automobile Club de France, and was overseen by Voisin and chief engineer André Lefebvre. Astonishingly, this aviation-inspired machine was completed in just six months. Despite their visionary design principles, just one of the four Laboratoires completed the 1923 Grand Prix de Vitesse.

6: 1935 Voisin Type C25 Aérodyne

Formerly owned by Gabriel Voisin, the Mullin’s 1934 C25 Aérodyne is one of only four examples. It has remained one of the Museum’s main draws since being acquired by Peter Mullin in 2005. Long before then, this Art Deco work of art was showcased for the first time at the 1934 Paris Auto Salon, and was hailed by Gabriel Voisin as the ‘car of the future’ for its use of lightweight alloys and aerodynamic design. Chassis 50010 underwent a three-year nut-and-bolt restoration under the Mullin Collection, ahead of its appearance at Pebble Beach in 2011, where it was rightfully awarded Best of Show.

5: 1935/1949 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante

Named after the beautiful and athletic heroine of Greek mythology, Jean Bugatti’s Atalante was designed to address the challenge posed by convertible tops in aerodynamic design. The resulting body style, which mimicked the appearance of a convertible with a closed aerodynamic cabin, was dubbed the ‘faux cabriolet’. This particular car, chassis 57801, bears particular significance as the last Type 57 built at the marque’s Molsheim factory before production resumed post-war. The car was completed in 1949 with post-war parts, and embodies a transitional period for the storied marque.

4: 1937 Delahaye Type 135 M

Coachbuilding luminary Joseph Figoni introduced the voluptuous ‘French curve’ and ‘double curve’ on the Delahaye Type 135 – a styling cue that typifies automobile Art Deco design. As with many high-end cars of the era, the Type 135M was inspired by aviation, specifically René Couzinet’s Arc-en-Ciel aeroplane. Chassis 49150, now known as The Star of India, was commissioned by French explorer Paul Jourde in 1937, and was delivered to Bombay, where it may have been sold to the Maharao of Cutch. The car was in the long-term ownership of M G Shantha Kumar (1934-2011) of Bangalore, before it was smuggled out of India. The car was purchased by Peter Mullin in 1992, after it competed at Pebble Beach. Chassis 49150 was then returned to its original specification, and it has remained a cornerstone of the Mullin Collection ever since.

3: 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia

The origins of this one-of-a-kind rolling work of art can be traced back to a collaboration between French aperitif magnate and inventor André Dubbonet and engineer Antoine-Marie Chedru. In 1927, the pair patented a pioneering independent-suspension system, which was adopted by GM and Alfa Romeo. Five years later, Dubbonet acquired a Hispano-Suiza chassis after the 1932 Paris Auto Salon, as a mobile showcase for his automotive innovations. The chassis was clothed in streamlined bodywork penned by Jean Andreau and hand-built by Jacques Saoutchik, which featured a panoramic windscreen canopy, upward-opening Plexiglas gullwing side windows and suicide doors. It’s scarcely believable that this futuristic masterpiece is nearing 90 years old. In 2022, it won the Bridge of Weir Design Award at the Hampton Court Palace Concours of Elegance and Best of Show at Chantilly Arts et Élégance. It also won an award at Pebble Beach in 2000, and took Best of Show at the Amelia Island Concours one year later.

2: 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 C-SS By Figoni and Falaschi

Regarded by many enthusiasts as the most beautiful car ever created, the Type T150-C-S is emblematic of the French Curve popularised by Joseph Figoni. Despite the car’s elegance, its underpinnings were the result of motor sport. T150 C competition cars dominated the 1937 French Grand Prix, which inspired Figoni to contact Talbot-Lago to create a touring version of the race car. The result was this stunning Teardrop Coupé, of which only 14 were built. The Mullin example, chassis 90106, boasts alloy bodywork, a fold-out windscreen and a sunroof. It was showcased at Pebble Beach in 2008, where it won the Art Center College of Design Award.

1: 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

The crown jewel of the Mullin Collection, the Jean Bugatti-designed Type 57SC Atlantic represents the apex of the automotive Art Deco movement. The Mullin Atlantic, chassis 57374, was the first Type 57 Atlantic built, and is the sole-surviving Aéro Coupé – a designation given to the first two cars that are mechanically similar to the magnesium-bodied Aérolithe concept car. As with the Aérolithe, the Aéro Coupé features aviation-inspired external rivets on the seams of its bodywork. Chassis 57374 was delivered new to Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild, and has passed through the hands of very few owners throughout its 88-year history. Today, the car is co-owned by the Mullin Museum and Rob and Melani Walton of California, US. The car won Penisula Classics’ Best of the Best Award in 2017, after winning Best of Show in that year’s Chantilly Arts & Elegance Concours. This particular car served as the inspiration for the special Chiron Super Sport ’57 One of One’ hypercar that Bugatti built in 2023.    

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