1939 Bugatti Type 57

Ettore Bugatti had a soul of an artist, and lived much of his life on a baronial estate in Alsace-Lorraine, in Eastern France. He was the son of Carlo Bugatti, who created museum-quality furniture in Art Deco style. Ettore's younger brother Rembrandt was a renowned sculptor of animals.

Ettore's automobile company produced cars that would go on to become legendary. They were expensive, complex, and of great beauty and sporting ability, earning many Grand Prix and sports car victories

Bugatti introduced the Type 57 in 1934. The epitome of 1930s sports chassis design, the Type 57 was given a hollow-tube live front axle, and a dual overhead camshaft eight-cylinder engine. The engine had a long crankshaft, five main bearings, and cams driven by a set of helical-toothed gears. The gearbox was fixed to the crankcase and serviced by a single-plate clutch, with the top three gears in constant mash.

Bugatti had purchased two front-drive Miller 91 racing cars from Leon Duray, and then copied Harry Miller's dual overhead camshaft setup, first for his type 50. A similar design was used for the 3.3-liter straight eight engine that was installed in the new Type 57.

Although Ettore was known to explore new technologies and construction methods, he was also known to be conservative. He experimented with aerodynamics and the use of lightweight metals like magnesium. However, he refused to adopt supercharging at first, and favored cable-operated brakes, even after hydraulics had been proven superior. He also refused to use an independent front suspension setup or hydraulic brakes for the Type 57.

In the end, with persuasion from his son Jean, a supercharger was added in 1936 to the rubber-mounted engine, and featured a stiffer frame, a Roots-type compressor driven off the camshaft drive at the rear of the engine, and offered five-to-six psi boost. The high-revving 3.3-liter car offered 160 horsepower and - when fitted with lightweight coachwork - could reach speeds reaching 120 mph. In 1938, Bugatti finally adopted Lockheed Hydraulically actuated brakes and replaced the aluminum-spoked wheels and brake drums with Rudge-Whitworth center-lock wire wheels and separate brake drums.

Jean Bugatti is credited with much of the Type 57's commercial success, attributed to the flowing coachwork that graced most the chassis examples. The bodystyles included the Atalante two-seat coupe, Ventoux four-seat coupé, Stelvio cabriolet and the Galibier sedan.

The concept for the Atlantic was introduced in 1935, and displayed at both the Paris and London Motor Shows. It was called the Competition Coupe Aerolithe (the French word for meteor) and given a prototype Type 57 S (for surbaisse - 'lowered') chassis, with gondola-shaped frame rails. It is believed that ultimately two Aerolithes were built as prototype, and neither has survived. The production car which was dubbed the Aero, was intended to use Electron, a magnesium and aluminum alloy. This metal proved difficult to weld, so Jean Bugatti with assistance from Joseph Walter, united the sections using rivets, giving the car a spine-like center rib dividing the body. The lightweight coachwork had teardrop-shaped fenders and could reach speeds of 209 kilometers per hour.

The production Atlantic bodies were hand-fabricated from aluminum and the rivets were longer required. The first example built was in February of 1936 and was acquired by Lord Phillipe de Rothschild, then one of the world's richest men. The second example built, and the first to be named Atlantic, was purchased in October of that year by a Monsieur and Madame Holzschuch. The third and final customer car was acquired by an English buyer named Mr. R. B. Pope in March, 1938. A fourth Type 57 Atlantic, and the first example built, had been used as a factory demonstrator. It was not sold to a customer and disappeared before World War II.

These four Atlantics inspired a companion model called the Atalante. Whereas the Atlantics had been close-coupled, cramped, impractical, and poorly ventilated, the Atalante was slightly larger and offered more interior room for its occupants. Approximately 40 Atalantes were built on the standard Type 57 and Type 57S chassis before the war halted all production.

In all its forms, the Type 57 is regarded among the most elegant and sophisticated automobiles created and attracted a legion of discerning buyers who were only satisfied with the best.


by Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2019

Related Reading : Bugatti Type 57 History

Many manufacturers during this time produced multi-purpose vehicles that could be driven to a race track, raced, and then driven home. The Bugatti Type 57, however, was solely a road-going vehicle and is considered the most celebrated of all non-racing Bugattis. Even though the Type 57 was strictly a road-going vehicle, a racing version was created for the 1937 24-Hours of Le Mans race. This vehicle,....
Continue Reading >>

Related Reading : Bugatti Type 57 History

Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy in 1881. His father, Carlo, was a furniture designer of some fame. The fathers 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....
Continue Reading >>
1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Aravis Coupe
Coachwork: Gangloff

Chassis Num: 57710
Engine Num: 46C

Introduced in 1934, and produced until 1940, the Type 57 is the ultimate Bugatti road car. They were fitted with some of the most dazzling coachwork ever produced, and this car, #57710, is a fabulous example. This chassis of the car, fitted with en....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Stelvio Convertible
Coachwork: Gangloff

The Bugatti Type 57 was effectively the marque's last production model, and perhaps the best. With a supercharger for the eight-cylinder engine, this model became the Type 57C. The Type 57 has a 130-inch wheelbase, and the 200 cubic-inch engine was....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Stelvio Convertible
Coachwork: Gangloff

The transmission was seamless, since at that point the Type 57 was Bugatti's only production car, and one of its most successful. The standard 57 engine was a 3257cc inline eight, developed from the Type 49 but equipped with gear-driven dual overhead....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Voll & Ruhrbeck Roadster
Coachwork: Voll & Ruhrbeck

Chassis Num: 57819
Engine Num: 90C

Ettore Bugatti had a vision of creating a grand touring automobile by marrying the excitement of Bugatti's racing heritage to the refinement of a road car. The result was the Type 57 designed by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore. Type 57s were buil....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Galibier Saloon

Chassis Num: 57752
Engine Num: 57476 19C

This beautifully restored Type 57C is a 3rd series car and is number 19 of 27 cars built between October 1938 – July 1939. Of the 27 cars built during that period, only 11 cars were supercharged. Bugatti offered clients the choice of four factory-des....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Stelvio Convertible
Coachwork: Gangloff

Ettore Bugatti was born in northern Italy but started building automobiles in Molsheim in the Alsace region of France. Ettore Bugatti's son Jean was in charge of the design team responsible for the Bugatti '57C's'.....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

3 Position Drophead
Designer: Letourneur et Marchand

Chassis Num: 57809

The Type 57 is the most celebrated non-racing Bugatti. Only 680 were made from the years 1934 through 1939. This was the last Letourneur et Marchand bodied car, delivered in April 1939 in Paris. There were only 13 Letourneur et Marchand bodied type 5....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Prince of Persia and future Shah of Iran, received this supercharged Bugatti (the black Bugatti Type 57C) as a gift from the French government on the occasion of his first wedding. The dramatic body was constructed by Vanv....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Faux Cabriolet
Coachwork: James Young

Chassis Num: 57787
Engine Num: C66

The Bugatti Type 57 was produced from 1934 through 1939 and was designed to compete with other luxurious road-going models such as the Delahaye and Delage. The development was heavily influenced by the son of Ettore Bugatti, Jean Bugatti. Mounted u....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Atalante Coupe

Chassis Num: 57624
Engine Num: 448

From 1937 through 1940, there were only 95 examples of the Type 57C produced. The original names for Jean Bugatti's cars were originally sourced from the Alpine passes (Stelvio, Galibier, Ventoux); it is unclear why he ventured away from this naming....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Galibier Saloon

Chassis Num: 57806C
Engine Num: 87C

This 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Galibier Sport Saloon is fitted with the supercharged DOHC straight-eight engine. It is a late Galibier that was ordered directly from the Bugatti factory by author L. Cabot Briggs. It was delivered to him in the United S....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Aravis Coupe
Coachwork: Gangloff

Chassis Num: 57768

The Type 57 was designed under the supervision of Ettore Bugatti's young son, Jean. For the first time in a Bugatti, the transmission was mounted integrally with the engine, separated by a single-plate clutch. In 1936, the company introduced the supe....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Stelvio Convertible
Coachwork: Gangloff

Chassis Num: 57786
Engine Num: 19C.V.

The Stelvio coachwork on this Bugatti is by Gangloff in Colmar. Few Stelvios were made, and no two were identical. A total of 96 57Cs were built. It is a documented supercharged Type 57.....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Coupe
Coachwork: Vanvooren

This Bugatti Type 57C with Atalante style coachwork by the French coachbuilder Van Vooren was ordered by M. Fernand Chaussivert in April 1939 and delivered two months later. It spent all its life in France before coming to the United States in 2009 a....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Cabriolet
Coachwork: Saoutchik

This Type 57 Saoutchik cabriolet was a very worthy winner of the Best of Show Trophy at Pebble Beach in 1985 - the same memorable year that all the Bugatti Royales were seen together for the first time. It was owned at that time by Jack Becronis. Bet....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Stelvio Convertible
Coachwork: Gangloff

Named after the Passo dello Stelvio pass in the Eastern Alps, the Type 57 Stelvio four-seat cabriolet penned by Jean Bugatti was the factory's most popular open car. Most Stelvio bodies were manufactured by Gangloff of Colmar, who modified the design....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

Cabriolet
Coachwork: Vanvooren

Chassis Num: 57808

This Type 57C was originally owned by the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. An avid car enthusiast and collector, he received this striking supercharged Bugatti as a wedding gift from the French government when he married his second wife, Pri....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

3 Position Drophead
Designer: Letourneur et Marchand

Chassis Num: 57841
Engine Num: 109C

Jean Bugatti introduced his Type 57 in 1934 and it quickly became one of the very best sporting chassis available. It featured a gearbox that was fixed to the crankcase and serviced by a single-plate clutch, with the top three gears in constant mesh.....[continue reading]

1939 Bugatti Type 57 vehicle information

3 Position Drophead
Designer: Letourneur et Marchand

Chassis Num: 57587
Engine Num: 458

This rare Type 57 cabriolet was bodied by Letourneur et Marchand—one of the few custom coach-builders whose work matched Jean Bugatti's own designs for grace and beauty. Chassis 57587 is the first of eight cabriolets built. This is design number 5877....[continue reading]

Aravis Coupe by Gangloff
Chassis #: 57710 
Stelvio Convertible by Gangloff
 
Stelvio Convertible by Gangloff
 
Voll & Ruhrbeck Roadster by Voll & Ruhrbeck
Chassis #: 57819 
Galibier Saloon
Chassis #: 57752 
Stelvio Convertible by Gangloff
 
3 Position Drophead
Chassis #: 57809 
 
Faux Cabriolet by James Young
Chassis #: 57787 
Atalante Coupe
Chassis #: 57624 
Galibier Saloon
Chassis #: 57806C 
Aravis Coupe by Gangloff
Chassis #: 57768 
Stelvio Convertible by Gangloff
Chassis #: 57786 
Coupe by Vanvooren
 
Cabriolet by Saoutchik
 
Stelvio Convertible by Gangloff
 
Cabriolet by Vanvooren
Chassis #: 57808 
3 Position Drophead
Chassis #: 57841 
3 Position Drophead
Chassis #: 57587 


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