Hot Rods: Ralph Lauren’s Cars Heat Up the Paris Museum Scene

1938 Bugatti 57S Atlantic 640 (Michael Furman)

While car enthusiasts and industrial design devotees have long admired the artistry of the automotive realm, the art world, for the most part, has remained unmoved. One exception, however, is Ralph Lauren’s famous collection of museum-quality sports cars that are currently the stars of The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection, which will be on exhibit at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs from April 28 through August 28. Curator Rodolphe Rapetti selected 17 of Lauren’s most audacious and obsessively restored treasures, which chart the history and height of European automotive history from the 1930s through the 1990s. Standouts include two of the world’s most precious cars: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and a 1938 Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic Coupe, which inspired Lauren’s new Sporting Automotive watch with a dial made of elm burl wood. While the Bugatti is estimated in the $30- to $40-million range, the watches are considerably more approachable at around $13,000. Other exhibit highlights include a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Scaglietti, a 1956/1958 Jaguar XKS and a 1931 Alfa Romeo Monza 8C 2300. Sexy and sensuous, these curvaceous automotive sculptures evoke admiration from gear heads and aesthetes alike. Yet, one must not forget they are really more at home cruising in top gear on road and track.