Tag Archives: Type 57

Continental Thirties Foursome – San Marino Motor Classic

Today’s “Continental Thirties Foursome” features a brace of Bugatti’s a Lago and a Peugeot, seen at last months San Marino Motor Classic, representing a high water mark of style and elegance from the European continental coach building industry between 1935 and 1937.

Bugatti Type 57 SC Electron Torpedo Competition, San Marino Motor Classic

The original Bugatti Type 57 Electron Torpedo Competition #57222 was shown alongside the original and similarly Electron bodied Bugatti Type 57 Aerolithe coupé at the Paris Salon 1935. Unlike the coupé the original Electron Torpedo body was never seen in public again.

Bugatti Type 57T Aravis, San Marino Motor Classic

The chassis for today’s featured car was built in 1934 with a ‘Galbiar’ 4 door saloon / sedan body, but in 1937 it was sent back to Bugatti for repairs which included upgrading the hydraulic brakes, engine mounts, differential and fitting a completely new exquisite Aravis 2 seat drop top body by Belgian Paul Nee who was allegedly chosen by Jean Bugatti as a personal favour to none other than the King of Belgium.

Lago T150 C SS, San Marino Motor Classic

Perhaps the apogee of the tear drop form were the three 1937 Lago 150C SS models with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi whose ‘Goutte d’Eau’ bodies featured not only faired in rear wheels, but faired in front’s as well, which one might expect to interfere with the steering. The first owner of what I believe is chassis #90107 was the Princess Stella de Khapurthala who allegedly had the colour of the paintwork changed many times to match her numerous outfits.

Peugeot Darl'mat, San Marino Motor Classic

Finally, for today at least, above is a 1937 Peugeot 302DS Darl’Mat Cabriolet, Emile Darl’mat was a Parisian Peugeot dealer with his own coachworks whose cars included several Peugeot based Le Mans racers.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton and Paul McNabb once again for sharing their photographs from the San Marino Motor Classic.

Thanks for joining me on this “Continental Thirties Foursome” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be paying a visit to Castle Combe. Don’t forget to come back now !


Mythological Hunting Virgin – Bugatti Type 57, Atalante Coupé, #57504

Of the 710 Bugatti Type 57’s built between 1934 and 1940 the single fast back Aerolithe, four fast back Atlantics an 17 Atalante Coupés, such as the one seen here, were fitted with the most radical bodies for the period.

Bugatti, Type 57, Atalante, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Named after a mythological Greek Goddess who was brought up by bears to become a happy but fierce hunter, sworn to virginity, the Atalante differs from the Atlantic having a single screen and none of the riveting seams for which the Atlantic and Aerolithe are best remembered for.

Bugatti, Type 57, Atalante, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Unlike the Atlantic body which was only fitted on the lower Type 57 S chassis the Atalante Coupé was fitted to both original type 57 chassis with the axles below the chassis rails and the lower 57S chassis.

Bugatti, Type 57, Atalante, Hillsborough Bugatti, Type 57, Atalante, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance d'Elegance

The Atalante body seen here by Geoffrey Horton at Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance a couple of years ago is fitted to an original Type 57 chassis as can be seen by the fact that the bonnet / hood stands well clear of the height of the front wings / fenders.

Bugatti, Type 57, Atalante, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

This particular Atalante was built in 1937 and is believed by the owners, the Academy of Art University® in San Francisco, to have been retained by the factory and used by Jean Bugatti who was responsible for the styling.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photographs taken at Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance in 2011.

Thanks for joining me on this “Mythological Hunting Virgin” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Creme de Menthe – Bugatti Type 57 Aerolithe Recreation #57104

The chassis for today’s featured Bugatti Type 57 #57104 was the fourth Type 57 to be built and the oldest known to have survived. In 1934 it was delivered to Bugatti’s agent in Paris Lamberjack. Somewhere around the mid to late 1940’s the car lost what is believed to have been it Van Voren body, but the chassis and major mechanical items apart from the front axle remained as a ‘flock of parts which passed through many owners including Tom Barrett, co-founder of the Barrett-Jackson auction house.

When Tom realised he needed a low slung Type 57SC chassis, on which to build a recreation of the famous Atlantique, he sold the flock of Type 57 parts along with a consignment of Bugatti Type 59 parts to David Grainger of The Guild of Automotive Restorers of Bradford north of Toronto, Ontario.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

David spent 3 years restoring the Type 59 from little more than half of the original parts before turning his attention to what he might do with #57104. At some point David came across some images of Jean Bugatti’s masterpiece, the Aerolithe which featured center stage of Bugatti’s stand at the 1935 Paris Auto Show.

The Aerolithe, French for meteor, disappeared after it had been road tested by two British enthusiasts in the United Kingdom and returned to the factory in 1936. There is no documentation as to what became of the car but it is presumed to have been broken up not least because it’s body was crafted out of magnesium alloy otherwise known as Elektron a valuable material that the Germans used in the production of it’s World War Two aircraft.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

When Jean Bugatti revealed to the press that the signature riveted joins which stand proud of the compound curved body work came about as a result of the use of Elektron the car is said to have become known as the Elektron Coupé.

Once David had come to the inescapable conclusion that the Aerolithe had almost certainly built on an early Type 57 chassis because; it’s low slung variants 57 S and 57 SC were either not available in the time frame prior to the 1935 Paris Show, the bulges in the body work to accommodate the early Type 57 steering box and because there was no obvious way to mount the fuel tank and spare wheel with the later low slung type 57 chassis, he knew the body he wanted to recreate for #57104 was that of the Aerolithe.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

Not only did David want to recreate the car he wanted to do so using the same materials and tools that were available at the Bugatti factory in 1934/5. To undertake such a project David found someone to underwrite the project who not only had the astronomical bank balance required, but crucially also the same vision regarding the materials, tools and techniques to be used, in the form of Christopher Ohrstrom who amongst his other hobbies is chairman of the World Monuments Fund which aims to preserve architectural sites like Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Once David had found a backer his next problem was to work out the original shape he was trying to recreate from just 11 black and white photographs and two drawings from the Bugatti Trust in the UK, one of the radiator grill and the other of a foot pedal.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

Eventually two more photographs were found and a set of drawings produced, safe in the knowledge that anything that did not look absolutely correct would be rejected and the part remade until it looked a perfect match to what could be discerned from the reference material.

The employees at The Guild of Automotive Restorers next had to find out all about working with magnesium alloy. Magnesium is thought to constitute around 11% of the earths naturally occurring minerals however the metal does not occur naturally rather it occurs in the form of salts.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

When it is liberated from salts by electrolysis it is incredibly light, extremely brittle, difficult to turn into compound shapes with an English Wheel, has a good memory for it’s original shape, is extremely reactive with other elements like oxygen and to make maters worse it melts at the relatively low 650 degrees centigrade has a high specific heat making it useful for fireworks and flares and reacts explosively with water !

It was deemed wise to be wearing something akin to a space suit when working with Magnesium alloy, blended with materials that make it a little less reactive and flamable or likely to erupt on contact with water.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

The curves were achieved by heating the material to between 850 degrees F and 1000 degrees F, before the alloy caught fire and then using the English Wheel in the time honoured manner. However for the most complex shapes smaller pieces were made and then riveted together with time sapping hidden rivets.

Preparation of the chassis required moving the engine back less than 4 inches so that the 3.3 litre 198.8 cui 8 cylinder motor could be mounted lower in the chassis as can be seen in the original photographs.

Bugatti Type 57, Quail Concours d'Elegance,

The interior details were partially available from a single photograph which showed a familiar Bugatti pattern to the dash instruments and interior equipment. The car was built as a show car rather than one to order so there is a logic to the conventional interior layout.

Most perplexing was the colour of the original car, it seemed unlikely that the original was silver as it appeared in the black and white photographs and this was confirmed through an interpreter when David met an ex Bugatti employee who told David that the car was known in the factory by the name “Creme de Menthe” or cream of mint. Some time later David acquired a painting of “Creme de Menthe” by one of the employees who had worked on it’s design and it also clearly showed the car was indeed Mint coloured, apt because silver were the German national racing colours and so would have been very out of favour in Alsace where it was built but also because magnesium is one of the constituents of chlorophyll, which of course give mint leaves, and all other green plants their pigment.

Finally David went to Goodyear and Goodrich who own the Dunlop brand an got permission to recreate the Dunlop logos on white rubber which was then vulcanised into groves cut into the inner and out walls of original Dunlop 90 series tyres so that they too appeared exactly as they had at the Paris Show.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs of this magnificent vehicle which took well over 7000 hours to recreate.

Thanks for joining me on this “Creme de Menthe” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow, when I shall be looking at a car painted up in tribute to one of Ayrton Senna’s sponsors. Don’t forget to come back now !


Handing Over To Jean – Bugatti Type 57 Sports Saloon #57142

Jean Bugatti was just 25 years old when the Bugatti Type 57 which he designed went into production in 1934.

Bugatti T57 Sports Saloon, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Powered by a 135hp 3,257 cc / 198.8 cui straight 8 double over head cam motor was modified from previous Bugatti designs featuring gear driven cam shafts in place of the chains used hitherto.

Bugatti T57 Sports Saloon, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Although the original sports saloon body was somewhat dated by 1934 the car was capable of 95 mph and 630 examples were built up until 1940.

From 1938 despite Ettores protests the Type 57 was fitted with hydraulic brakes.

Chassis #57142 was built in 1934 and first registered in the UK on July 16th 1934.

Thanks for joining me on this “Handing Over To Jean” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !