Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio Cabriolet
The Type 57 is perhaps the most celebrated of all road-going Bugatti chassis, with a rare combination of style and performance that made it an instant success and marked the final and most enduring automotive legacy of Jean Bugatti, one of the sons of Le Patron, Ettore Bugatti. To be successful, Bugatti’s new model of course had to be both powerful and beautiful, and it was expected to appeal to the company’s discerning and elite clientele, skilfully exhibiting the Molsheim firm’s renowned design and engineering prowess. The development of the Type 57, in many ways, reflected both the maturation of the Bugatti marque and that of Jean Bugatti himself, who was allowed to develop the model with minimal influence from his father.
Introduced in 1934, the Type 57 quickly proved itself everything it was expected to be. Not only was the chassis clearly Bugatti, but the new engine provided more power with less noise and reduced vibration, as well as improved reliability and durability. It retained Bugatti’s signature double overhead-camshaft valvetrain, but the cam was now gear-driven at the rear of the engine block. Rated at 135 bhp in normally aspirated form, the new 3.3-litre engine was fitted with a conventional clutch and gearbox.
Several catalogued body styles were offered, but the most popular open car was the dashing Stelvio four-seat cabriolet. Penned by Jean Bugatti himself, the bodies were built by several of the finest coachbuilders of the era, most notably Gangloff, with slight variations over the years. Today, the Type 57 is recognised as being the most sporting of all non-racing Bugattis, and between its debut for 1934 and the outbreak of WWII, more than 680 examples are estimated to have been produced. Notably, the dashing and sophisticated Stelvio Cabriolet was offered throughout the entire production run of the Type 57.
The body constructor of the Stelvio offered here, Gangloff, was founded in 1903 by Georges Gangloff and headquartered in Bern, Switzerland from 1928. The company operated several branches during the pre-war era, including Geneva, Zurich, Bern and Colmar in France, and it was a major supplier of bodies for Bugatti.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2011 at the Battersea Evolution, London.
135 hp, 3,257 cc DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 3,300 mm.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Simon Clay