Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio

From early 1934 until the outbreak of the war in September 1939 the automotive output from Bugatti’s Molsheim factory was almost exclusively devoted to the Type 57 model and its later variants. While retaining several traditional Bugatti features, this new model was in many respects a complete break with all that had gone before. Its engine capacity of 3.3 liters was substantially larger physically and therefore inevitably somewhat heavier than its predecessors, however its more efficient twin-camshaft engine provided a correspondingly higher specific output so that its road performance was not impaired. 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 and commodious coachwork.

The 3.3-liter engine was completely new, with a five-bearing crankshaft at the back of which a train of helical gears drove the twin overhead camshafts. Although it retained fixed heads, the cylinder block was a single symmetrical casting providing classic hemispherical combustion chambers. Instead of the inverted bucket tappets of the earlier Miller-influenced Type 50, the new engine featured valve actuation by fingers interposed directly between the cams and their respective valves. The gearbox was also a completely new design with constant-mesh dog-engagement for second, third and top gear. And instead of being a separate unit as before, the transmission was mounted directly to the engine by a conventional bell-housing containing a normal single-plate clutch instead of the previous Bugatti multi-plate unit.

From the outset the factory offered a choice of the Galibier four-door saloon, the Ventoux two-door coupe and the Stelvio cabriolet for the new Type 57 model, although the latter was in fact built by local coachbuilders Gangloff of Colmar. Alternatively, the cars could still be supplied in completed rolling chassis form so that their agents or clients could select their own coachbuilder from whom to commission coachwork to their own personal requirements.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

135bhp at 5,000rpm, 3,257 cc twin overhead cam inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed gearbox, solid axle and semi-elliptic leaf spring front suspension, solid axle and quarter elliptic leaf spring rear suspension, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130".

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio