Designer Ralph Lauren defines his passion for the automotive world, a hobby that has taken him decades to pull together one of the most exclusive collections of historic vehicles in the world: “I’ve always seen cars as art in motion”.
The famous New York designer can boast of having in his garage dozens of classic cars of different epochs: from a 1920s Bentley to a Bugatti Veyron that still captivates car enthusiasts today. Ralph Lauren´s passion for cars was revealed with the exhibition L’Art de l’Automobile, a display of about twenty vehicles that the designer brought to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2011.
Among the pieces in his collection, some beautiful works of art stand out. Such is the case of a “Blower” Bentley from 1929, perhaps the oldest piece in his private collection. This legendary car participated in three editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and— with its lush 4.5 liters engine— Ettore Bugatti referred to it as “the fastest truck in the world.” Or a Porsche 550 Spyder from 1955, model that owes much of its legend to the dubious honor of being the car the actor James Dean was driving during the accident that took his life.
Italian design, clearly a weakness of Ralph Lauren, deserves special mention. His Italian inclination becomes evident in the love he declares for Il Cavallino Rampante. To our knowledge, the designer owns five Ferrari as banners of his collection: A 375 Plus from 1954, a 250 Testarossa from 1958, a 250 LM from 1964, a 250 GT Berlinetta SWB from 1960 and a 250 GTO from 1962. With their iconic Corsa red, all are among the best products in Ferrari´s history.
In any case, it is the latter that takes the cake. Due to its fame and exclusivity (only 39 units were produced), the 250 GTO from 1962 is undoubtedly the great icon of the carmaker from Maranello. Considered the “Mona Lisa” of sports cars, this model has the honor of being the most expensive in history; last October, it was sold in a private transaction for more than $69 million.
And there’s more. Several Jaguars, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1955 and the McLaren F1 LM— to name just a few— are some of the most valuable pieces in Ralph Lauren´s collection. But if one could be considered the jewel in the crown, it would be the Bugatti 57SC Atlantic, last year’s winner in the Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este. We wonder if this will be the sixth and final Bugatti legend that remains to be unveiled. ■