- One-off Bugatti Type 57 Atalante coachwork by Gangloff
- Well documented history back to new
- ‘Second in Class’ at Pebble Beach
- ‘Best in Class’ at Amelia Island
The Bugatti Type 57 was the considered by many to be the pinnacle of Bugatti’s touring models. Sir Malcolm Campbell himself said:
“If I was asked to give my opinion as to the best all-round super-sports car which is available on the market today, I should, without any hesitation whatever, say it was the 3.3 Bugatti… it cannot fail to attract the connoisseur or those who know how to handle the thoroughbred. It is a car in a class by itself.”
Strong praise from a man who not only held the Land Speed Record at the time but who was a respected racing driver, motoring journalist and car connoisseur.
The Type 57 was the first car built under the direction of Jean Bugatti, who had taken more of a leading role after his father, Ettore, was spending more time in Paris on his Railcar project. Jean’s influence can be seen most in the body designs offered from the factory catalogue, the Ventoux bearing close resemblance to Jean’s own ‘Profilée’ designs seen on the Type 46.
Original factory drawings for the new Type 57 are dated 1932, yet it wasn’t until 1934 that the car was revealed and made available. This is put down to 1933 being a year in which Bugatti were focusing on the development of their new Type 59 Grand Prix car, the engine of which was allied to the Type 57. Jean Bugatti was also instrumental in the engine design of the new Type 57 engine. Being an admirer of the American engineer Harry Miller, twin overhead camshafts and the engine design in the Type 50, the design drew on all three influences. The block was one piece with 2 valves in each hemispherical head, the inverted cups made way for more tradition rockers which allowed for better valve clearance adjustment. The crankcase was bolted right to the frame and the housed a crankshaft on six bearings, five being principal. The camshafts and accessories such as dynamo, water pump and oil pump were all driven off a gear train mounted at the back of the engine. The result was a 3.3 Litre Straight-8 producing a comfortable 140bhp, extremely impressive when one considers that the equivalent Bentley was producing a ‘paltry’ 115bhp. The gearbox was another innovation as it was an integral unit with ball change and constant mesh helical gears which allowed for silent running and, after 1933, synchromesh to boot.
The biggest selling point over and above the fabulous mechanical design were the stunning bodies drawn up by Jean and the in-house carpenter-wheelwright, Joseph Walter, that were offered in the factory catalogue. These included the Ventoux, a 2 door, 4 seater design, the Galibier 4-door sedan and the evocative Atalante 2-seat coupé. These were joined later by the Aravis Coupé and the Stelvio, an open version built by the renowned and conveniently local coachbuilder, Gangloff.
The Type 57 enjoyed a fleeting moment in competition when two lightweight, two-seater examples, were entered in the 1935 Ulster Tourist Trophy driven by Lord Howe and the Hon. Brian Lewis, the latter of whom set the fastest lap but sadly didn’t finish with Lord Howe taking third. After this, competition efforts were focused on the upcoming Type 57S.
In 1936, the Type 57 was updated, albeit it gradually with improvements such as a brand new, reinforced rear axle, cross bracing to stiffen the entire frame, mounting the engine on rubber ‘Silentbloc’ bushes to reduce vibration and in late 1938, the introduction of Lockheed hydraulic brakes. The latter of this overcame a worrying trait of the brakes to grab when applied suddenly, an issue that had seen many a Type 57 returned to the works for adjustment and modification.
The Type 57 was a bittersweet triumph for Bugatti. The cars sold well and were much loved by their owners. The Type 57S and SC were exemplary, the latter of which spawned the enigmatic Atlantic, now considered the holy grail of the collector’s car world. From these was spawned the infamous Type 57G or ‘Tank’ as it became known. Hugely powerful but hard to handle, the Type 57G took outright victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 1937 driven by Wimille and in 1939 driven by Jean Bugatti. Sadly, just a few weeks after winning the biggest race in a car bearing his own name, Jean was killed in the same car while testing for the Le Baule Grand Prix. Many consider his loss, as the heir apparent and a clear driving force to take Bugatti forward, as the beginning of the end for the company and Ettore Bugatti never really recovered from it. We can only be thankful that before he was taken, he put his hand to this greatest of Bugatti road cars.
THIS MOTOR CAR
The Bugatti Type 57 for sale at The Classic Motor Hub is one of the beautiful Atalante 2 seat Coupés. As a late car it has the stronger rear axle, the cross braced chassis and rubber engine mounts. It is also fitted with the Lockheed hydraulic brakes.
An extract on file from the original order book shows chassis #57633 being ordered in February 1938 by wealthy industrialist Fernand Crouzet of Bastide-Rouairoux outside Toulouse. Already the owner of a Bugatti Type 57 (#57403) with Cabriolet coachwork by Gangloff, Monsieur Crouzet once again approached Gangloff and asked them to create a one-off Atalante. Unique features included long rear wings, a metal covered spare wheel mount in the boot lid, a single large rear window, special bumpers and disc wheels. The car was painted Black over Blue and original photos of the car outside the Gangloff works clearly show the two-tone paint scheme and unique features. Monsieur Crouzet would go on to own a third Type 57 (#57818), another Atalante but supercharged. It is understood that he had one car for himself and the other two for his two sons. Soon after purchasing his third Bugatti war broke out and #57633 was hidden away. Sadly, both his sons were killed during the war and on the death of his second son, Crouzet sold the car to Pierre Vidal of Toulouse. In 1943, the car was sold once more and moved to Paris where it survived the war unscathed. After the cessation of hostilities, #57633 was taken to the Bugatti agent on Rue Carnot and refurbished before being put in to use with the Corps Diplomatic as transport for the French Embassy in London. In 1948, the Bugatti was in private hands and ended up in the ownership of a J.G.H Carter, who took the car to Bugatti specialist J. Lemon Burton to upgrade the car to a unique dual carburettor specification using Zenith carbs and a Type 101 manifold. In 1955, #57633 became the property of Kenneth Ullyett a well-respected author and marque historian. He used the car regularly and kept it until his death in 1977. His widow, not able to part with her husband’s beloved Bugatti, kept the car in ‘less than ideal storage’ until her death 10 years later, at which point it was consigned to a Sotheby’s auction in November 1987 as a barn find/restoration project. Having bought the car for £72,000 the new owner had the car sent to Hill and Vaughn for restoration, at some point during which it was sold to a Japanese collector prior to completion.
In 2003, #57633 was bought as an unfinished restoration by US property magnate and car collector, Peter Ministrelli. In a questionable colour combination of Yellow over Purple after its late 80’s restoration, Mr. Ministrelli showed it a couple of times before embarking on a body off, 2 year, 100 point restoration. No stone was left unturned to return this magnificent motor car to its original specification. Rare parts such as the Bosch Distributor, Scintilla ignition switch and a set of original Gurtner horns were sourced via collectors and specialists from all over the world including the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, New Zealand and couple of trips to Retromobile in Paris. A fellow collector and owner of another Type 57 Atalante even lent his car and parts for the restorers at Classic & Exotic to custom make new, factory correct pieces for the project. Invoices and other information on hand go into exhaustive details as to the lengths that the restorer went to in order to get this just right.
When it came to painting the car, the first intention was to go back to the original Black over Blue but as the sister car ordered new by Monsieur Crouzet still existed and was in the USA in the same colours, the decision was made to go slightly different. While the Black over Purple scheme may not be to original specification, it certainly compliments the beautiful lines of this stunning car. Concours judges obviously didn’t seem too put off by this move away from originality as the car was immediately put on the biggest concours stage in the world, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2005 where it was awarded Second in Class, an incredible achievement and made all the more impressive when one considers it came second to a Talbot-Lago Teardrop Coupé by Figoni et Falaschi, is there a more worthy opponent to come second to! Next came Amelia Island in 2006 where the car won Best in Class and in the same year it was the outright winner with a score of 99.5 points at the Michigan Region Grand Classic.
An extremely active and generous philanthropist, when Peter Ministrelli decided to sell his Bugatti, he consigned it, along with his Duesenberg Brunn Riviera Phaeton to the Gooding Auction at Pebble Beach in 2006 with all proceeds from both cars going to Beaumont Hospital. It was at this auction that #57633 was bought by renowned Bugatti collector, David Wooley and returned to the United Kingdom. A year later, the opportunity to buy a fabulous Type 51 came up and David decided to sell #57633 to the current owner, a well-respected collector of vintage cars. As part of the arrangement the car was taken to Gentry Restorations and thoroughly checked over and recommissioned where necessary to make sure the mechanical aspects were in as good an order as the cosmetics, which today, are still second to none and concours ready.
This incredible Bugatti Type 57 Atalante for sale at The Classic Motor Hub offers an unrepeatable opportunity to acquire one of the most beautiful motor cars, bodied by the coachbuilders Bugatti used themselves, in the most fabulous condition with an extremely well known provenance and history. #57633 is worthy of the worlds top collections and is now available for immediate inspection in The Hangar Showroom at The Classic Motor Hub.