Bugatti Type 57

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Bugatti Type 57
Bugatti Type 57 Atalante 1936.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerBugatti
Production1934–1940
710 produced
Body and chassis
ClassGrand tourer
Powertrain
Engine3,257 cc DOHC Inline 8
Chronology
PredecessorBugatti Type 49
SuccessorBugatti Type 101

The Bugatti Type 57[1] and later variants (including the famous Atlantic and Atalante) was an entirely new design created by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore.[2] Type 57s were built from 1934 through 1940, with a total of 710 examples produced.

Type 57s used a twin-cam 3,257 cc engine based on that of the Type 49 but heavily modified by Jean Bugatti, unlike the single cam engines of the Type 49 and earlier models.[3] The engines of the Type 50, 51 used bevel gears at the front of the engine to transmit power from the crankshaft, whereas the Type 57 used a train of spur gears at the rear of the engine, with fiber gear wheels on the camshafts to achieve more silence in operation.

There were two basic variants of the Type 57 car:

The Type 57 chassis and engine was revived in 1951 as the Bugatti Type 101.

A rediscovered Type 57 sold for 3.4 million euros at auction on 7 February 2009 at a motor show in Paris.[4]

Type 57[edit]

Type 57 Coupé 1936.

The original Type 57 was a touring car model produced from 1934 through 1940. It used the 3.3 L (3,257 cc; 198 cu in) engine from the Type 59 Grand Prix cars, producing 135 hp (100 kW). Top speed was 153 km/h (95 mph).

It rode on a 3,302 mm (130 in) wheelbase and had a 1,349 mm (53 in) wide track. Road-going versions weighed about 950 kg (2,090 lb). Hydraulic brakes replaced the cable-operated units in 1938, a modification Ettore Bugatti hotly contested. 630 examples were produced.

The original road-going Type 57 included a smaller version of the Royale's square-bottom horseshoe grille. The sides of the engine compartment were covered with thermostatically-controlled shutters. It was a tall car, contrary to the tastes of the time.

Dimensions:

  • Wheelbase: 3,302 mm (130 in)
  • Track: 1,349 mm (53 in)
  • Weight: 950 kg (2,090 lb)

Type 57T[edit]

Type 57T Tourer

The "tuned" Type 57T pushed the performance of the basic Type 57. It was capable of reaching 185 kilometres per hour (115 mph).

Type 57C[edit]

Type 57C

A Type 57C racing car was built from 1937 through 1940, with about 96 produced. It shared the 3.3 L engine from the road-going Type 57 but produced 160 hp (119 kW) with a Roots-type supercharger fitted.

Type 57C Tank[edit]

The 2nd incarnation Tank, this time based on the Type 57C, won Le Mans again in 1939. Shortly afterwards, Jean Bugatti took the winning car for a test on the Molsheim-Strasbourg road. Swerving to avoid a drunken bicyclist on the closed road, Bugatti crashed the car and died at age 30.

Type 57S/SC[edit]

1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Gangloff Drop Head Coupe from the Ralph Lauren collection.

The Type 57S/SC variants are some of the most iconic Bugatti cars. The "S" stood for "Surbaissé" ("Lowered") and the "C" for "Compresseur" (a supercharger introduced by Bugatti as a result of customers' desire for increased power). It included a V-shaped dip at the bottom of the radiator and mesh grilles on either side of the engine compartment.

Lowering the car was a major undertaking. The rear axle now passed through the rear frame rather than riding under it, and a dry-sump lubrication system was required to fit the engine under the new low hood. The 57S had a nearly-independent suspension in front, though Ettore despised that notion.

Just 43 "Surbaissé" cars[5] and only two supercharged Type 57SC's were originally manufactured. But most 57S owners wanted the additional power afforded by the blower. Therefore, most of the original Type 57S cars returned to Molsheim for the installation of a supercharger, pushing output from 175 hp (130 kW) to 200 hp (150 kW) and 190 km/h (120 mph). In 2013 Ralph Lauren's version, valued at $40 million, was unveiled.

Dimensions:

  • Wheelbase: 2,979 mm (117 in)
  • Track: 1,349 mm (53 in)
  • Weight: 950 kg (2,090 lb)

Type 57S/SC "Aérolithe" concept and Atlantic production cars[edit]

1935 Bugatti Type 57 Aérolithe.
1938 Type 57SC Atlantic No. 57591 from the Ralph Lauren collection.

The Type 57 Atlantic body featured flowing coupé lines with a pronounced dorsal seam running from the front to the back end of the vehicle. It was based on the 1935 Aérolithe concept car designed by Jean Bugatti. Like the Type 59 Grand Prix car, the Aérolithe used Elektron composite for its body panels, known for being a very lightweight and durable material, but also for being extremely flammable when exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, being unable to weld the body panels, Bugatti engineers riveted them externally, technique frequently used in the aviation industry, thus creating the signature seam.

However, the production Atlantics, just four built, used plain aluminum, but the dorsal seams were retained for style and have led to the car's present fame. The model was named in honor of Jean Bugatti's friend, French pilot Jean Mermoz, one of the pioneers in aviation and the first to cross the South Atlantic by air. Unfortunately, in December 1936, he and his crew crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after a supposed engine failure. Originally, the first two Atlantics were named "Aéro Coupés", after their predecessor, the Type 57S Aérolithe. However, after hearing the tragic news, Jean Bugatti commissioned to change the name of the model to "Atlantic Coupé".

Three of the original four Atlantic units are known to survive and each has been restored to its former glory. Two of them have been honored with "Best of Show" awards at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1990 and 2003, respectively.

● 1935 Bugatti Type 57S Aérolithe No. 57331 prototype
( Chassis No. 57331 / Engine No. 226S / Original Color: "Crème de menthe" / Interior: "Crème de menthe" leather and beige cloth )[6]

Code-named the "Elektron Coupé" or "Coupé Special" at launch, this Bugatti prototype had a very short existence. It was finished in July, 1935 and only four months later it made its first public appearance at the 1935 Paris Motor Show. The car was a faithful recreation of Jean Bugatti's stunning "SuperProfile coupé" design, but due to its seemingly bizarre shape, the vehicle has brought attention to a very limited audience, thus there were only four Atlantics built the years after. A few people, however, drove the vehicle and were surprised by its performance and looks, so they called it "La Aérolithe" after the phrase "Rapide comme une aérolithe" ("Fast as a meteorite"), a name that was later adopted by Bugatti.

A few weeks later, the vehicle was displayed at the British International Motor Show in Olympia, London. The prototype stayed in London until the spring of 1936, being frequently driven and tested by Bugatti driver William Grover-Williams. Beyond this point historians lose its tracks, but as Bugatti's chief mechanic Robert Aumaître stated a few decades later, the car was, essentially, just a styling concept with no technical interest, thus being transported back to France at the Bugatti factory where it was disassembled for components.[7]

Over the span of five years, from 2008 to 2013, Canadian car restoration team from The Guild's Classics lead by David Grainger had built an 1:1 exact replica of the Type 57S Aérolithe, having only 13 photographs and a painting at their disposal from which they gathered all the dimensions of the vehicle. It was built on the No. 57104 chassis and its body was crafted entirely out of elektron alloy.[8]

● 1936 Bugatti Type 57S(+C) Aéro Coupé No. 57374
( Chassis No. 57374 / Engine No. 25S / Original Color: Metallic gray-blue / Interior: Blue leather ) [6]

It was completed on September, 1936 and sold to Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild.[9] Painted a gray-metallic blue, No. 57374 was built without the "C" specification and it is believed that it had been equipped with various components from the Aérolithe prototype, the most notable being the chromed elements on either side of the engine grille. In 1939, at the request of Mr. Rothschild, the car was brought back to Molsheim in order to have the "C" specification fitted. Lord Rothschild used the car until October, 1941 when he abandoned it in the middle of a field after the engine exploded due to a malfunctioning supercharger that was fitted two years before.

It was then sold to a mechanic who repaired it, thus removing the defective supercharger. In 1945, a wealthy doctor who just arrived in France bought the car and a year later he brought it to US and sold it to Bugatti enthusiast Mike Oliver. In the hands of the current owner, No. 57374 received the US regulations changes and was painted a dark red. In 1953, Oliver decided that the car should have the "C" specification refitted. As a result, No. 57374 was brought back to France at the Bugatti workshop to make this change and, once completed, was returned to the US.

Mike Oliver died in 1970 at the age of 50. Before his death, he desired that No. 57374 be exposed at the "Costa Mesa" collection owned by US entrepreneur and pilot Briggs Cunningham. Just a year later, it was sold for a total of $59.000 to collector Peter Williamson. He used the car for 32 years, during which he returned it to its original state and eventually it was exhibited at the 2003 edition of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where it won the "Best of Show" award.[7]

Peter Williamson died a year later and No. 57374 remained in his family's possession until 2010 when it was sold for no less than $30 million to collector Peter Mullin who then exhibits it in his French car masterpiece collection; the Mullin Automotive Museum located in Oxnard, CA.

● 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Aéro Coupé No. 57453
( Chassis No. 57453 (later No. 57454) / Engine No. 2SC / Original Color: Black / Interior: Dark brown leather and beige cloth )[6]

Also known as "La Voiture Noire" (French for "The Black Car") or the "Black Aéro", this is the second Atlantic that was manufactured. Apart from its first years after production, the car's history remains unknown. The only Atlantic already fitted with the "C" specification straight from the factory was finished on 10th of October, 1936. During the winter of the same year, the car was mostly driven by William Grover-Williams' wife, Yvonne and by Bugatti driver Robert Benoist. Subsequently, No. 57453 was photographed for the company's 1937 promotional catalogue and was also exhibited at the Nice and Lyon Motor Shows in Spring of 1937.

Brought back to Molsheim, it was proudly driven by Jean Bugatti for a couple of months, then he took ownership of a Type 57S Atalante, so the Black Aéro was given back to Robert Benoist and William Grover-Williams. In 1939, William Grover-Williams and his wife moved to England shortly after the World War II broke out and the car was returned to the factory.

A few Bugatti engineers drove and repaired the car between 1939 and 1941, most notably french works mechanic Alphonse Meyer, portrayed in the last known photograph taken of No. 57453, now changed to No. 57454. Even though it was frequently driven, the Black Aéro never had a registered owner and the last mention about it was on a list of cars that were to be sent to Rue Alfred Daney in Bordeaux in February, 1941, during the French exodus, being registered 1244W5. [6]

● 1936 Bugatti Type 57S Atlantic Coupé No. 57473
( Chassis No. 57473 / Engine No. 10S / Original Color: Black / Interior: Black leather and beige cloth )[6]

Succeeding No. 57453, this second black Atlantic was finished in December, 1936 and it was delivered to its first owner, Mr. Jacques Holzschuch. A few months later, while driving along the French Riviera, he and his wife, Yvonne, entered the "Juan-Les-Pins Concours d'Elegance" event where the vehicle received the "Grand Prix d'Honneur" award. Subsequently, in 1939, the car received significant styling changes, so No. 57473 differs from the other Atlantics. The author of this coachwork is believed to be Italian designer Giuseppe Figoni.

Eventually, Mr. Holzschuch and his wife were killed by the end of World War II and the car was purchased alongside their Monaco mansion by businessman Cannes Robert Verkerke in 1949. In the hands of its current owner, the car entered the "3rd International Speed Circuit for touring cars series" race in Nice, but it didn't finish. In the next couple of years, No. 57473 has had more than three more owners and in 1952 was sold to Bugatti enthusiast René Chatard and was later painted pale blue.

On August 22, 1955, he and Janine Vacheron, a female companion, were driving the car near Gien, France, when they were hit by a train. Neither survived the crash and the vehicle was sold to a scrap trader in Gien. The remains of the car were purchased in 1963 by a French collector who began a full reconstruction, which culminated in 1977. As a result of the severe deterioration, most of the original components were replaced with new ones, therefore the value of the car decreased substantially.

Subsequently, in November, 2006, No. 57473 was bought by an anonymous collector who decided that the vehicle to be thoroughly restored by American specialist Paul Russell and brought back to Chatard's specification. In 2010, the finished car was exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event, where, unfortunately, it didn't win any prize, being considered a replica. Today, Nr. 57473 is one among other classical cars displayed at the Torrota private collection in Spain.[7]

● 1938 Bugatti Type 57S(+C) Atlantic Coupé No. 57591
( Chassis No. 57591 / Engine No. 39S / Original Color: Sapphire Blue / Interior: Beige leather )[6]

This final production Atlantic led a charmed life that continues to this day. Its first owner was British tennis player Richard Pope and it was delivered to him in May, 1938 before being registered "EXK6", as it's commonly referred to. Painted a rich sapphire blue, No. 57591 distinguishes itself from the other Atlantics mostly by the "facelift" at the front end and the absence of the rear fender covers.

In 1939, Richard Pope sends the car back to Molsheim at the Bugatti factory to have the "C" specification fitted. He kept the car for nearly thirty years, sometimes loaning his Atlantic to Bugatti specialist Barrie Price.[7] Eventually, Price bought the car in 1967 and had it in its possession for 10 years. In the meantime, No. 57591 suffered a light crash during a commemoration which led to it getting stuck in a ditch. The car was handed to wealthy businessman Anthony Bamford and, shortly after, was given to another collector.

Eventually, renowned fashion designer Ralph Lauren buys the car in 1988, who then commissions a complete restoration with Paul Russell and Co. They were able to cut through the past restoration work and revive the car back to its 1938 glory, even though it was painted black at Mr. Lauren's request. The car was given the "Best of Show" award at Pebble Beach in 1990 and "Best of Show" at Villa d'Este in 2013, along with many other top awards.

Type 57S/SC Atalante[edit]

57SC Atalante

The Atalante was a two-door coupe body style similar to and built after the Atlantic, both built on the 57S chassis, but with a single piece windscreen and no fin. Only 17 Atalante cars were made, four of which reside in the Cité de l'Automobile Museum in Mulhouse, France (formerly known as the Musée National de L'Automobile de Mulhouse).

One Atalante, chassis number 57784, a 3-seater vehicle version with aluminium bodywork made by Vanvooren of the iconic Bugatti Type 57S model, resides in the Museu do Caramulo in Caramulo, Portugal. Vanvooren would do two more bodies alike, one (Chassis 57808) for the French government, who gave it, in 1939, as a marriage gift of Prince Reza and Princess Fawzia, and another one (Chassis 57749). These two cars are in private collections in the United States.[10]

The name Atalante was derived from a heroine of Greek mythology, Atalanta.

Rediscovered Type 57S Atalante[edit]

In 2008 the Bugatti Type 57S with chassis number 57502 built in 1937 with the Atalante coachwork for Francis Curzon, 5th Earl Howe was discovered in a private garage in Newcastle upon Tyne, having been stored untouched for 48 years and known about only by a select few people.[11] It was auctioned in February 2009 at the Rétromobile motor show in Paris, France, fetching €3.4 million (~ US$5 million), becoming one of the highest valued cars in automotive history, owing much to its extremely low mileage, original condition and ownership pedigree.

Type 57S45[edit]

A special Type 57S45 used a 4,743 cc engine like the Tank.

Type 57G Tank[edit]

Type 57G 'Tank'

The famous, 57S-based, 57G Tank won the 1936 French Grand Prix, as well as the 1937 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three 57G Tanks were produced. Chassis number 57335, the Le Mans winner, is the only one known to exist and is currently on display at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia.[12]

References[edit]

  • Ray Bonds (2003). The Illustrated Directory of Sports Cars. Motorbooks. ISBN 0-7603-1420-9.
  1. ^ Barrie Price. Bugatti 57: The Last French Bugatti. ISBN 9781901295665.
  2. ^ Charles Lam Markmann, Mark Sherwin. The Book of Sports Cars - (France and Germany). ISBN 9788896365458.
  3. ^ Jarraud, Robert: Bugatti Doubles Arbres, Editions de l'Automobiliste, 1977, page 44
  4. ^ "Classic Bugatti makes 3.4m euros". BBC News online. 4 November 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  5. ^ 1937 Bugatti Type 57S. Conceptcarz. n.d. Retrieved 1 January 2009. The Type 57S was a short-wheelbase sport version of Bugatti's twin-camshaft, straight eight, 3.3 liter Type 57 model, and featured a 'V' radiator. Only 43 examples were built between 1936 and 1938, and this one was the last of 17 to be fitted with factory built black Atalante coupe coachwork...The Type 57S has been called the ultimate road going Bugatti. It is also one of the rarest...The Type 57 and its variants were intended for road going use...The catalogue bodies included two versions of the Ventoux Coupe, the Galibier four-door sedan, the Stelvio cabriolet, Atalante and Atlantic. The Atlantic, and its derivative the Atalante, were constructed in two-door coupe configuration.
  6. ^ a b c d e f http://www.bugattibuilder.com/articles/bugatti_article_002_From_Aerolithe_to_EXK6.htm
  7. ^ a b c d http://forum-auto.caradisiac.com/sport-auto/histoire-du-sport-auto/sujet379884-105.htm
  8. ^ http://www.guildclassiccars.com/1935-bugatti-aerolithe.php
  9. ^ "The Bugatti Revue".
  10. ^ "Bugatti 57C Atalante". Museu do caramulo. n.d. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  11. ^ "1937 Type 57S Atalante found in Tyneside garage". BBC Online. 1 January 2009.
  12. ^ Simeone, Frederick A. (2009). The Spirit of Competition. Philadelphia, PA USA: Coachbuilt Press. p. 229. ISBN 9780977980949.

External links[edit]