A LEGACY ON WHEELS: The Timeless Automobiles of Don Williams


Written by Nicole Ellan James


The late Don Williams was always passionate about cars. Learning about prewar vehicles from an early age led him to become an expert in classic automobiles, with the ability to procure the utmost quality and extraordinary vehicles for his clientele. It’s hardly a revelation that his private collection showcased an array of exceptional vehicles, among them the unique Mayfair-bodied 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K. In addition to that prewar gem, Barrett-Jackson takes pride in presenting six additional vehicles from Don Williams’ personal collection, all to be sold with No Reserve during the 2024 Scottsdale Auction.

One of the standout gems in this collection is the 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio, bearing Chassis No. #57406, a cherished part of Williams’ collection since 1988. Unveiling the narrative behind this timeless Bugatti, Kees Jansen, a renowned Bugatti historian, reveals that the Type 57 was meticulously crafted in April 1936 as a four-passenger Stelvio. This model featured the alluring cabriolet design conceived by Jean Bugatti, characterized by its striking pontoon fenders and an Atalante-inspired rounded tail.

The original owner of the Type 57, R. Petit, took possession on August 8, 1936. Later owned by a Mr. Ferrand, the car underwent upgrades that included later-style headlamps integrated into the front fenders and spats over the rear wheels. Period photographs from the 1940s, included in with the sale, depict these features, authentically reminiscent of 1937-39 Bugattis. Additionally, the car received front “moustache” bumpers and Lockheed hydraulic brakes, a common upgrade for earlier cable-brake cars.


Ferrand sold the Bugatti to Jacques Dufilho, a prominent actor residing in the Latin Quarter of Paris. In 1974, Dufilho transferred ownership to Alexander E. Ulmann, known for founding the 12 hours of Sebring, the American automotive endurance race, in December 1950. Ulmann drove the car without rear fender spats and refinished it in light blue and black. The Bugatti remained in his ownership until his passing in 1986.

“One of my favorite cars from Don’s personal collection of is the Bugatti,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “It has a great history and Don restored it to perfection.”

Under Williams’ stewardship, the Bugatti was transformed it to its current state. The Ulmann two-tone royal blue and black “sweep panel” livery was retained, complemented by striking pale gray leather upholstery for a breathtaking contrast. Notably, the rear wheel “spats” were reinstalled, and the wire wheels were chromed, reminiscent of the options available from Bugatti in 1937.

The Bugatti preserves its authenticity with its original No. 286 engine, the No. 68C transmission sourced from a supercharged Stelvio, the original No. 427 rear axle and the No. 50 internal frame. The dashboard features what appear to be the original gauges, except for a new Jaeger tachometer.


“Don had the car for a long time and it’s absolutely gorgeous,” Jackson said. “He loved this car. We are truly honored that his wife Janet has entrusted us with selling it at the Scottsdale Auction with No Reserve.”

Additionally offered from the collection are three remarkable Packards: a Kellner-bodied one-of-a-kind 1938 Packard Twelve Torpedo-Cabriolet, a 1933 Packard 1001 Standard Eight Coupe Roadster and a 1920 Packard Twin 6 Transformable Town Car.

The 1938 Packard 12 Torpedo-Cabriolet by Kellner boasts a unique history, having been custom-built with the rear body section of a 1930 Renault Reinstella Torpedo Scaphandrier, reportedly by its original owner, believed to be George “Geordie” Hormel II, heir to Hormel Foods. In the early 1950s, the car underwent restoration at Joy Brothers Motor Car Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, and by the late 1950s, it found a new owner in J.B Nethercutt. In 1961, casino mogul William F. Harrah acquired the Packard, retaining it in his collection for 24 years until its sale in 1985 during the Harrah Automobile Collection Sale to Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza. Under Monaghan’s ownership, the Torpedo-Cabriolet received a no-expense-spared restoration by Lon Krueger of Scottsdale, Arizona. It then entered the collection of Tom Barrett, co-founder of Barrett-Jackson, in 1989, before ultimately being sold to Don Williams, who proudly showcased the car tever since.


The 1933 Packard 1001 Standard Eight Coupe Roadster, a

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By: Barrett-Jackson
Title: A LEGACY ON WHEELS: The Timeless Automobiles of Don Williams
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Published Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2024 16:39:51 +0000


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