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Lot 35 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante Coupe
Coachwork by Gangloff
CHASSIS NO: 57641
• Extremely rare “roll-back” bureau-style sliding roof coachwork • Documented by respected Bugatti historian, David Sewell • Exceptional restoration and care • Best in Class, 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
3,257 cc DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine, supercharger, Stromberg twin-choke updraft carburetor, 160 HP at 4,500 rpm, four-speed manual gearbox, beam front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with reversed quarter-elliptic leaf springs, front and rear De Ram shock absorbers, four-wheel hydraulic finned drum brakes; wheelbase: 2,980 mm (117.3")
While certainly drawing on the company’s rich tradition, the Type 57 marked an entirely new era at Molsheim and served as Bugatti’s primary road model and the foundation for its incredibly fast Grand Prix and Le Mans racing cars. As before, Type 57-based racing cars achieved international success including achievement of many world records in 1936 and outright victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937 and 1939. Serious Type 57 production commenced in 1934 and continued until 1940 along two generally accepted series. The Galibier sedan, Ventoux coach and Stelvio drophead coupé comprised the bulk of Type 57 road-car production, followed in 1935 by the Atalante Coupé, with coachwork mostly built in Bugatti’s Molsheim coachworks or in small numbers by Gangloff in nearby Colmar. While the Type 57 was an unqualified success for Bugatti, production only reached 710 examples in all along numerous road and competition variants.
Bearing Chassis Number 57641, this Bugatti Type 57C is a right-hand drive, ‘Series 2’ example, benefiting from numerous upgrades from 1936, including improved engine mounts, detail updates to the camshafts and valve timing, a redesigned exhaust manifold and a modified crankcase with provision for supercharger mounting. Other welcome improvements included adoption of De Ram self-adjusting shock absorbers and a new dashboard with two large centrally placed instruments. Provenance of 57641 is outstanding, extensively documented by Bugatti marque historian David Sewell, who quotes transcriptions of Bugatti factory records stating the car was fitted with engine no. 456 and invoiced as a Type 57 on November 15, 1936 for direct delivery to its first owner, a Frenchman named Baptifaut. Subsequent registered owners included the Joussy family of Paris in May 1937. Chassis 57641 was still located in Paris during the early 1950s, listed as such in “The Bugatti Book,” , first published in 1954 in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Bugatti Owner’s Club. According to Sewell, by 1960 Chassis 57641 had passed through seven owners since new and was in the hands of well-known Parisian Bugatti enthusiast, Henri Novo. Sewell states in his report that 57641 was listed in the 1962 Bugatti Register as having a Ventoux drophead coupe body, with a subsequent switch to the Atalante coupé body, “…probably executed by Novo himself.” According to Sewell, eight Atalante bodies were constructed for the ‘Series 1’ cars of 1935 and it is believed only three of them featured the bureau-style “roll-back” roof design. Since only one more was produced for a surviving 1936 ‘Series 2’ car, Sewell concludes that the coachwork fitted to 57641 was taken from a 1935 model.
Further according to Sewell, who cites Hugh Conway’s 1973-74 update to his original vehicle register in “Bugantics,” the quarterly journal of the Bugatti Owners Club, 57641 is listed with A. Delincourt as the owner. Analysis of Conway’s 1962 and 1973-74 register entries against the factory records for 57641 also led Sewell to state that factory records were in error regarding this vehicle’s original engine number and that the originally assigned unit was switched out at the factory in favor of the engine, numbered 474, powering the car. Also, according to Sewell, the supercharger was a later addition to the car, possibly fitted by Novo when he changed the coachwork. Following its ownership by Delincourt, 57641 was part of the renowned Seydoux-Schlumberger collection in Paris, from which it was acquired by its current owner in 2012 and then given a concours-quality restoration by Bob Smith Coachworks in Gainesville, Texas. Confirmation of this beautiful Bugatti’s excellence was quickly confirmed, with accolades including a perfect judging score at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and Best in Class at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Beautifully finished and preserved throughout, 57641 is accompanied by a concours tool kit and mounted spare tire inside the trunk compartment. Carrying excellent provenance and expert documentation, this multiple award-winning Bugatti Type 57C is a study in Bugatti’s design and engineering genius on every possible level.