Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux

It’s ironic that Ettore Bugatti’s most successful Le Mans car was intended as a Grand Routier, not an out-and-out sports car. Designed by his son Jean, the Type 57 used the eight-cylinder twin-cam engine of the Type 49 but with timing gears rather than chains. The prototype car had transverse-spring independent front suspension, but Le Patron demanded a return to the traditional beam axle for production cars. The model was introduced in 1934 and became the sole offering in 1936 when its siblings were discontinued.

A lowered chassis model, Type 57S, was available, and both could be had with a Roots-type supercharger, in which case a “C” suffix was used. So-called “Tank” versions of the 57C, named for their ungainly utilitarian bodies, won the French Grand Prix in 1936 and Le Mans in 1937 and 1939. In all, 684 Type 57s were built, just 96 of them 57Cs.

The Type 57 was originally offered in four body styles, three of which were named after famous mountain peaks in the Alps: Galibier, Stelvio and Ventoux. The four-seat, two-door Ventoux body was heavily influenced by sketches for the Type 50; with its Profilee style, the Ventoux was easily recognizable by its sharply raked windshield. Unlike the Stelvio, which was commonly outsourced to various coachbuilders, the Ventoux had been designed in-house by Jean Bugatti himself. In addition, the sylphlike Atlantic and Atalante coupes evoked oceanic themes and Greek mythology.

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

210 bhp, 3,257 cc supercharged DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and live rear axle with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130"

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux