Chassis Num: 57523
Engine Num: 23S
Sold for $8,745,000 at 2013 Gooding & Company
The Atalante body style, named for a huntress in Greek mythology, was one interpretation of the 1935 Aerolithe coupe, the prototype that also inspired the Atlantic. Designed by Jean Bugatti as a two-seater sports coupe, the Atalante was among the rarest of the body styles offered by Bugatti on the Type 57 chassis. This automobile was first registered to a Monsieur Gandon of Paris on April 16, 1937. It originally had an Atalante coup body painted in monochrome noir with a black interior. Used through the war, the car was sold by M. Gandon in 1952. The original Type 57S engine was damaged and a supercharged SC engine was then installed by a new owner.
The car came to the United States around 1959-1960 and it was sold to George Huguely. His caretaker-mechanic put a tablespoon full of upper-cylinder lubricant in each cylinder. This caused a hydraulic lock that damaged the block. The importer, Gene Cesari, bought a new block directly from Molsheim for about 4125.
George Huguely removed the original engine and sold the car without the engine to Donald Versley. Versley found a standard T57 engine and used it in this chassis. The engine was converted to SC configuration, including a dry sump lubrication and compressor.
The car passed through a couple more owners before ending up as part of the Blackhawk Collection. The current owner acquired the car and commissioned Bob Mosier of Mosier Restorations, Inc., to completely restore the car in late 2006.
Chassis Num: 57523
Engine Num: 23S
Sold for $8,745,000 at 2013 Gooding & Company
The Bugatti Type 57 was the company's most successful road-going model. After four years in production, a new model emerged in parallel to the standard line. It was called the Type 57S with the 'S' representing surbaisse
. It was extensively re-engineered to be sportier. It was lighter, faster, shorter, lower, and more technically advanced than the existing Type 57.
The Type 57S was designed to have the engine mounted closer to the ground than on the standard car, thereby lowering the center of gravity. It had C-channel, gondola-shaped frame rails that were of thinner material and thus, lighter than the Type 57 frame. The engine was given a sophisticated dry-sump lubrication system which did away with the high-capacity oil pan in favor of a remote oil tank governed by dual pumps. The engine in the Type 57S offered about 25 more horsepower via a higher compression ratio and additional tuning. Bugatti engineers did away with the conventional distributor in favor of a high-performance Scintilla Vertex magneto, driven by the exhaust cam gear and hidden neatly behind the firewall, ahead of the dash.
The rear of the frame was designed so that the rear axle passed through an oval-shaped opening in each side rail, allowing the car to sit further down over the axle. The Type 57S was given an exhaust system that utilized special baffles within a thinner casing and a horizontal row of five small-diameter tailpipes to maintain a minimal, but acceptable 10cm of ground clearance.
The front suspension was given a semi-independent configuration of a two-piece hollow axle with precisely machined, tapered ends held within a central knurled collar. This unconventional setup worked in unison with de Ram shock absorbers that provided immediate and effective damping. This was possible through a combination of hydraulic pressure and metallic multi-plate discs. To put things into perspective, a de Ram shock absorber cost about the same price as an entry-level automobile.
The mechanical configuration and components of the Bugatti Type 57S were a masterpiece, and Jean Bugatti demanded equally impressive coachwork. The hood-line and coachwork of a Type 57S typically sat several inches lower than a comparably styled Type 57. This allowed the fenders to peak just above the top of the vee'd radiator shell, and the coachwork completely enveloped the fame.
The Type 57SC was a supercharged version, offering around 200 horsepower. Chassis number 57523
This car was constructed in Molsheim in April of 1937 and was originally equipped with frame number 27 and engine number 23S. It was given a Jean Bugatti-designed Atalante coachwork. The two-passenger coupe was named after an Arcadian princess from Greek mythology. Though these were offered through the factory as a catalogued body style, no two 57S Atalantes are alike and each differs in subtle detail.
This example, body number 10, has several unique details, the most recognizable being its large Scintilla headlamps, which project from the bodywork on tubular forms. It has full skirted rear fenders and is originally finished in monochromatic black livery. It was delivered to the official Bugatti agent on Avenue de Montaigne in Paris. In May, the car was sold to its first owner Alphonse Gandon. Mr. Gandon had owned at least one other Bugatti prior to his acquisition of 57523, a Figoni-bodied Type 55 Roadster with which Jacques Dupuy won the 1933 Paris-Nice race.
Early in the car's life, it was returned to the factory to receive a Roots-type supercharger and became one of the very first Type 57SCs.
On September 17th of 1940, the Bugatti was registered in Ville d'Avray under Gaston Polonois. In April of 1946, the car was re-registered by M. Gandon.
After M. Gandon's ownership, the car was sold to Jacques Longuet of Paris and registered as '7815 BP 75' on December 2nd of 1952. Around the close of the 1950s, the car was sold to Jean De Dobbeleer of Brussels, Belgium. In 1959, the car was imported to the United States by Gene Cesari. In late 1959 or 1960, the car was sold to George W. Huguely of Annapolis, Maryland. Shortly after Mr. Huguely purchased the Bugatti, his mechanic put a tablespoon of upper cylinder lubricant in each cylinder. Eventually, this resulted in a hydraulic lock, which caused damage to the block. Mr. Huguely removed the original engine and, sometime later, sold the 57SC Atalante to Dr. Donald Vesley.
During Dr. Vesley's ownership, he acquired a standard Type 57 engine, which he then converted to SC specifications - complete with dry-sump lubrication and a supercharger, and had it installed in 57523. The car was eventually sold through Ed Lucas of Troy Michigan to Illinois collector William Jacobs. In the 1990s, the Blackhawk Collection acquired the car and had it restored, refinishing it in two-tone red and black. In 2005, the current owner purchased the car and had the original matching-numbers engine installed into the car. The engine, which had been repaired and installed in a Bugatti special, was acquired through careful negotiation.
In 2006, the car was entrusted to Bob Mosier for a no-expense-spared restoration. The work took three years to complete, during which every aspect of the car was addressed, from rebuilding the engine to restoring the Atalante coachwork. The original Scintilla headlights, Marchal auxiliary lights, and distinctive parking lights, and traditional 'moustache' bumpers - which had been removed from the car before its arrival in the US, were sourced in Europe and returned to 57523.
In 2009, the car made its post-restoration debut at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It completed the Tour d'Elegance and later displayed on the lawn at Pebble Beach. It completed in Class E-2 (Bugatti Type 57 Special Coachwork) and earned both First in Class and the French Cup. In 2010 it was shown at the Amelia Island Concours where it won Best in Class honors. It was later shown at the Santa Barbara and Avila Beach Concours where it won Best of Show honors.
After its show circuit tour, the car was refinished in its original black livery. The upholstery was refinished and the headliner and carpeting was re-done with tan hides and a French walnut dashboard.
In total, Bugatti built just 42 production Type 57S models between the fall of 1936 and spring of 1938. Of these, just 17 examples were completed with Jean Bugatti's Atalante coachwork. From this list, two 57S Atalantes have been lost and four are permanent fixtures in the Musee National de l'Automobile in Mulhouse, France. The 11 remaining examples are in some of the world's finest collections.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2013