This Bugatti Type 57 Is Possibly The Most Beautiful Replica Ever

Bugatti 1935 Bugatti Type 57, Aérolithe replica

This glorious 1935 Bugatti Type 57 is possibly the most beautiful replica in the world and it’s up for sale in a few weeks’ time…

For those not familiar with the four Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupés created between 1936 and 1938 of which only three now exist, they were developed by Jean Bugatti from the unique Aérolithe prototype, also known as Coupé Special or Coupé Aero, and are now regarded as the most valuable and desirable classic cars in the world.

Of the four original Bugattis, only three of the hand-crafted Atlantic cars were sold to affluent customers. In 1936, the first model was created for British banker Victor Rothschild, originally without a supercharger, in grey-blue. This vehicle, with chassis no° 57374, is now known as the ‘Rothschild Atlantic’.

Bugatti ‘Rothschild Atlantic’

Jean Bugatti had the second Atlantic, ‘La Voiture Noire’ (the black car) made for himself. Only he or a few selected friends, mainly Bugatti racing drivers, had the honour of piloting the coupé with chassis number 57453. In contrast to the other models, there is no trace of this car after 1938. It’s not clear whether Jean Bugatti sold the car to a racing driver among his friends or it was relocated to a safer region of France when the German army invaded Alsace.

‘La Voiture Noire’ – The missing Bugatti

The ‘Holzschuh Atlantic’, the third car built was delivered to Jacques Holzschuh of France in October 1936 but was subsequently destroyed in an accident although it was the subject of a complex restoration – the engine could not be saved.

Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is the proud owner of the last Atlantic produced, with chassis number 57 591, the “Pope Atlantic” completed in May 1938 – its first owner was the Briton R.B. Pope.

Replica of the vanishing coupé

While the story could well have ended there, in 2008, Christopher Ohrstrom, President of the World Monuments Fund, and David Grainger, restoration specialist, started on their journey to make a replica of the mysterious vanishing coupé.

The team began searching for a chassis that was close to that of the Aérolithe, believed to be chassis no° 57103, and discovered chassis no° 57104, one of the earliest in the series, complete with its engine, transmission, and part of the running gear.

Bugatti 1935 Bugatti Type 57, Aérolithe replica

Exact dimensions and coachwork were achieved via modern technology and a whole range of photographs, down to the position of the rivets on the central ridge and the design of the whitewall tyres.

Using templates, the bodywork was formed out of Elektron, which is an alloy consisting of 90 percent magnesium and 10 percent aluminum. Although it is lightweight and strong, it is difficult to work and cannot be welded, which is why Bugatti riveted the body parts together, creating the famous ‘dorsal seam’. The interior was also recreated with its wooden dashboard and tubular seats covered in leather.

The car has been featured and was awarded the 
International Historical Car of the Year by the magazine Octane. The Aérolithe coupé recreation has taken part in major design exhibitions in American museums (Atlanta, Raleigh, Indianapolis, and Portland) and has been exhibited at Quail Lodge, in Carmel, California.

At the Amelia Island Concours d’Elégance, the car was awarded the “North Trophy for Best Coachwork” and “Best in Show & Peoples’ Choice Awards” at Cobble Beach. Jay Leno, the famous American presenter, collector, and automobile enthusiast, even produced a programme dedicated to this work of art, which included a test drive of the car.

The amazing Bugatti is expected to fetch around €3,000,000when it is offered as part of the Artcurial Rétromobile Sale on the 18 – 19 March 2022…


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