Shortly after the introduction of the road-going Bugatti Type 57 began traversing the roadways, racing versions were created. It was a temptation hard to resist, as they were well constructed and a very mature breed. Proper bodies were soon constructed to take absolute advantage of the cars mechanical prowess, and soon began competing on the worlds toughest stages.
A purpose-built version emerged in 1936 dubbed the 57G. It was given the nickname, 'the tank', in recognition of its fully enclosed bodywork. This was not the first time a car had been given this designation; that honor went to the Type 32. A few years later, legendary racer Briggs Cunningham would bring his own version of a streamlined body to LeMans, and the press called it 'Le Monster'. It had a similar, intimidating design that attempted to take advantage of aerodynamic principles.
The Type 57G featured a sloped front with adequate mesh grilles for allowing cool air to pass through the engine and front drum brakes. The aluminum body rested on a steel frame with drum brakes at all four corners. Mounted under the bonnet was an engine similar to the one found in the road-going versions. It was tuned to produce around 200 horsepower and mated to a four-speed gearbox.
The Type 57G enjoyed much racing success in Grand Prix racing and earned many podium finishes. Its aerodynamic body and lightweight construction gave it numerous advantages, including better fuel economy.
The Type 57G was brought to the 24 Hours of LeMans where it was driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist to an overall victory, having averaged 85 mph.
The Bugatti marque was absent from LeMans in 1938, but Jean Bugatti was able to convince Ettore to return in 1939. A single entrant was entered, a Type 57C, driven by Wimille and Veyron. It was driven to another victory for the Type 57 and Bugatti legacy, after a Delage driven by Louis Gerard was forced to retire. The winning car was later test driven by Jean Bugatti and wrecked. The accident claimed the life of Jean and the car was never rebuilt.
In total, there were three examples of the Type 57G created in 1936 and the example shown is the only one still in existence. It is part of the Simeone Foundation Museum in Philadelphia PA and carries chassis number 57335. It was the example that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937, the French Grand Prix, the Grand Prix de la Marne and the Grand Prix de Pau.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2008
A racing success story with the Bugatti Type 57G Tank
The Type 57G Tank was built in Molsheim in 1936 and 1937. Only three cars were produced at the Bugatti manufacturing plant in the Alsace. With these racing cars, Bugatti aimed to lead the world of French motor racing to new victories, as at that time only foreign brands were constantly winning.
Jean Bugatti, son of the company founder Ettore Bugatti, pushed through an initiative to develop a sports car which could be used for long distance competitions. In order to ensure the lowest possible centre of gravity, it was decided to combine the standard type 57S chassis wîth the Bugatti 3.3-liter row eight cylinder and a wheelbase of 2.98 m. The engine of the 57G Tank delivers approximately 200 hp and, thanks to the aerodynamically designed body, could quickly reach higher speeds than that of the competitors at the time.
The car was on the road to success from the very beginning, wîth Jean-Pierre Wimille a fixture at the wheel. His first victories in the 57G Tank were won in 1936 at the Grand Prix de l'A.C.F in Montlhéry and the Grand Prix de la Marne.
For the Le Mans 24 hour race on July 19 and 20th, 1937, Bugatti registered two racing cars of this type. The first car was driven by test drivers Pierre Veyron and Roger Labric, wîth Jean- Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist taking control of the second Tank. After only a short while, Wimille took the lead and ultimately won the race wîth an average speed of 136.99 km/h (84 MPH) and a total distance of 3,287.938 km (2,043 miles). Thus, he was able to claim Bugatti's very first victory in this legendary race, and became a brand legend himself.Source - Bugatti
Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy in 1881. His father, Carlo, was a furniture designer of some fame. The father's brother, Rembrandt, was a gifted sculptor of animals. When he was old enough, Ettore attended the Brera Academy of Art where he studied sculpture. Soon, he turned his attention to mechanical endeavors.
The first Bugatti motor car was built in 1899 though the first vehicle to bear his name was the Type 13 of 1910. Power came from a four-cylinder, eight-valve engine. The 1913 the radiators became more rounded and in the shape of a horse shoe.
The company's first eight-cylinder engine production car was introduced in 1922 and dubbed the Type 30. The engine had a single overhead camshaft and displaced two liters. The car had a drum brakes, solid axles and leaf springs on all four corners.
The Type 35 in all sequences, the A, B, C, and T, were some of Bugatti's early examples that made the marque famous. The Type 57 introduced in 1934 and continued in production until 1940. They were powered by a 3257cc straight-eight engine with double overhead camshafts that produced between 130 and 140 horsepower. There were four road-going versions of the 57 and these were the Type 57, Type 57C, Type 57S, and Type 57SC. The Type 57C was a supercharged version while the Type 57S was a sporty version based on a short and lower wheelbase. The Type 57SC was a combination of the 57S and 57C. A variety of body-styles were offered throughout the years.
The engine rested in a ladder-type frame and matted to a four-speed manual gearbox. The front had a tubular axle with the suspension comprised of longitudinally mounted semi-elliptic leaf springs. The rear axle was suspended in place by a pair of quarter-elliptic leaf springs. The early versions of the vehicle had cable-operated drums on all four wheels. Later versions were upgraded with Lockheed hydraulic brakes with twin master cylinder, which first appeared in 1938.
The Type 57 and its variants were intended for road going use. However, many made their way onto the racing circuit. Lord Howe drove a Type 57 to a third place finish in the 1935 Tourist Trophy. A Type 57G won the Monthlhery and Reims race in 1936. In 1937, Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist drove a Bugatti to victory at LeMans.
Many of the cars were clothed by prominent coachbuilders such as Figoni, Van Vooren, Corsica, and James Young. Most of the chassis were bodied by the factory with coachwork in the style of Jean Buggatti. The catalog bodies included two versions of the Ventoux Coupe, the Galibier four-door sedan, the Stelvio cabriolet, Atalante, and Atlantic. The Atlantic and Atalante were constructed in two-door coupe configuration. Gangloff, a Swiss coachbuilder, was tasked with clothing most of the factory bodies.