Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio

From early 1934 until soon after the outbreak of war in September 1939, the automotive output from Bugatti’s Molsheim factory was almost exclusively devoted to the Type 57 model and its variants. While retaining several traditional Bugatti features, this new model represented a virtually complete break with the past. From the outset, it was never regarded as an outright sports model but rather as a high-performance sporting tourer, which was nevertheless capable of carrying luxurious coachwork. By this time, Ettore Bugatti himself was devoting the bulk of his time to the production of the Bugatti racecars, while his talented son Jean played a leading role in the design and development of the new model.

The 3.3-liter engine was completely new, with a five-bearing crankshaft and a train of helical gears driving the twin overhead camshafts. The fixed cylinder heads utilized efficient hemispherical combustion chambers, and the cylinder block itself was a single symmetrical casting. Valve actuation was revised from that of the earlier Miller-influenced Type 50, with the Type 57 utilizing fingers interposed directly between the cams and their respective valves. The gearbox was also completely new, and it was now mounted directly in unit with the engine by a conventional bell housing containing a normal single-plate clutch instead of the prior multi-plate unit.

Before 1927, Bugatti had not produced coachwork, if one discounts the racing bodywork of the Type 35, its variants and other early racing models. After 1927, Bugatti developed an increasing in-house capacity to produce their own traditional timber-framed coachwork, initially for the Grand Sport versions of the Types 40 and 43. From around 1930, Jean Bugatti played an increasingly important role as a stylist, working in conjunction with chief coachwork designer Joseph Walter. The first model to display Jean’s design talents was the Type 55 roadster of 1931.

From the outset, Type 57 models included the Galibier four-door saloon, the Ventoux two-door coupe and the Stelvio cabriolet, which was mainly bodied by local coachbuilders Gangloff of Colmar. Alternatively, the cars could still be supplied in chassis form so that Bugatti’s agents and clients could select their own coachbuilder to meet their requirements.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2011 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

135 bhp, 3,257 cc DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed gearbox, solid axle and semi-elliptic leaf spring front suspension, live axle and quarter-elliptic leaf spring rear suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 130".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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