Classic Van Auction Talk

Saturday 20 December 2014

1938 BUGATTI TYPE 57 ROADSTER Coachwork by: Auto Classique Touraine - BONHAMS (USA) Scottsdale January 2015

Coachwork by: Auto Classique Touraine

Chassis no. 57661
Engine no. 25C
3,257cc DOHC Supercharged Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Single Dual Throat Updraft Carburetor
160bhp at 5,500rpm
4-Speed Cotal Pre-Selector Manual Transmission
Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs with Rigid Front Axle – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*Exquisite presentation in the style of Jean Bugatti's Roadster design
*Excellent restoration by renowned Bugatti expert Jim Stranberg and High Mountain Classics
*Well-known in the Bugatti Club and among marque historians
*Driven on numerous International Bugatti Rallies
*Quail and Amelia Island Concours Award winner


"The car sped along at 80mph with the comfort and quietness one associates with the Type 57... We were quite willing to believe that Jean Bugatti has achieved the 435 kilometres to Paris in just under 1½ hours in the Type 57 - an average of 77mph..." - Motor Sport, May 1939.

The Type 57 Bugatti, introduced in 1934, marked Jean Bugatti's emergence as Bugatti's leader and creative driving force. It was the first new model built under his direction and it incorporated many features new to Bugatti. Its dual overhead camshaft eight-cylinder engine had dimensions of 72x100mm, offering 3,257cc displacement. The crankshaft ran in five main bearings. The camshafts were driven by a train of helical-tooth gears at the engine's rear with a further crankshaft bearing behind them. Finger cam followers minimized side thrust on the valve stems.

The Type 57 also marked Bugatti's first use of a transmission fixed to the engine crankcase and a single plate clutch. The top three gears in the four-speed gearbox were constant mesh. Jean created a novel independent front suspension system using transverse leaf springs for the first two examples of the Type 57 before Le Patron spied it and insisted it be replaced by a proper Bugatti hollow tubular live axle. Thenceforth suspension was traditional Bugatti semi-elliptical front and reversed quarter-elliptical rear leaf springs with cable-operated mechanical drum brakes.

Much of the Type 57's commercial success may be attributed to Jean Bugatti's sensitive, flowing coachwork which graced the most famous of the chassis' examples. Atalante two-seat coupé, Ventoux four-seat coupé, Stelvio cabriolet and the Galibier sedan vied with the best of France's and Europe's formidable coachbuilders' creations and comprised the bulk of Type 57 production. Bugatti's clients could have the best, but overwhelmingly they chose Jean Bugatti's designs on the Type 57.

Despite financial travail, development of the Type 57 continued with introduction of a stiffened frame and rubber-mounted engine along with the supercharged 160hp Type 57C in 1936. In 1938 the nearly unthinkable happened in Molsheim when Bugatti finally adopted Lockheed hydraulically actuated brakes and replaced the beautiful and lightweight but expensive aluminum-spoked wheels and brake drums with Rudge-Whitworth center-lock wire wheels and separate brake drums.

The Type 57 in all its forms attracted discerning owners who were only satisfied with the best, among them speed king Sir Malcolm Campbell, himself the owner of a Type 57, who wrote: "If I was asked to give my opinion as to the best all-round super-sports car which is available on the market today, I should, without any hesitation whatever, say it was the 3.3 Bugatti... it cannot fail to attract the connoisseur or those who know how to handle the thoroughbred. It is a car in a class by itself."


According to renowned Dutch Bugatti historian Kees Jansen, chassis no. 57661 started its life at the Molsheim Bugatti works in March of 1938. The Type 57 was completed over the summer that year as a Gangloff Stelvio Cabriolet, priced at 86,000 French Francs, and delivered to a client named Lecroix via Bugatti agent Crequy. From here on, the car's history becomes hazy for decades. At some stage, the Bugatti was involved in an accident, and subsequently burnt beyond repair. Its remains, understood to have consisted of the front of the chassis and the engine, were purchased in Paris in the 1980s by Helmut Feierabend, a collector from Wurzburg, Germany. Mr. Feierabend's intention was to restore chassis 57661 with the Voll & Ruhrbeck coachwork of 57819, but due to time constrains, this work was never completed.

Mr. Feierabend later sold the project to Mr. Uwe Hucke, who in turn sold it to renowned collector Jim Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Patterson did not complete the project either, but sold it to the consignor, an Australian based Bugatti collector and enthusiast, along with spare engine 25C (ex-chassis 57646). This gentleman had a clear vision of how he wanted to bring the project to life. In 2006, as he visited the Retromobile show in Paris, he had noticed the incredible coachbuilding skills of Tours, France based Auto Classique Touraine; they had on display a newly built body in the style of the famous Jean Bugatti/Gangloff design no. 3449, the sporting Type 57 Roadster that was never completed due to the outbreak of the war. So the message was clear once the project really got under way in 2007; it was going to be a Roadster in the style of Jean Bugatti/Gangloff design no. 3449, built by Auto Classique Touraine.

Renowned Bugatti specialist Jim Stranberg and his shop, High Mountain Classics, was selected to carry out the extensive work of restoring the chassis and drive line, to later mate to the new coachwork. Photos and receipts of the comprehensive build are available, all told adding up to several hundred thousands of dollars.

Upon completion in 2010, the supercharged Bugatti debuted at the The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, where 57661 was awarded Best Prewar Sports Car. The following spring, the stunning Roadster was on the field at the Amelia Island Concours, where it was awarded the Best New Coachwork award.

This beautiful automobile has since been used on numerous International Bugatti Rallies in the US and abroad, and was displayed at the Prescott Bugatti Trust meet in the UK. With its light bodywork and powerful, supercharged eight-cylinder engine, this stunning Type 57 is a delight to drive. A known car to the American Bugatti Club Registry, the Roadster is offered with the original engine block no. 483 (although in damaged condition), a history file and restoration receipts. This expertly built, extremely beautiful Type 57 is ready for the next caretaker
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