1938 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio

Type 57C Stelvio

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1938
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    160
  • Drive 
    RHD
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

To Be OFFERED AT AUCTION at RM Sothebys' Paris event, 5 February 2020.
Estimate:
€1,000,000 - €1,200,000

  • An original and powerful factory supercharged Type 57 Bugatti
  • Known history from new with exceptional provenance
  • Lovely original cabriolet coachwork by Gangloff
  • Retains its original chassis, engine, gearbox, rear axle, and bodywork
  • Recently inspected by marque expert Pierre-Yves Laugier

The Bugatti Type 57 was introduced in 1934 and is commonly regarded as a masterpiece from the hand of Jean Bugatti. Starting with the lovingly fabricated hollow-tube live front axle, this new chassis was the epitome of 1930s sports chassis design. The dual overhead-camshaft eight-cylinder engine was an art deco sculpture in itself; with its slim squared-off block, angular machined cam covers, and beautifully fabricated ancillaries, it was a thing of striking beauty to behold.

In 1936 the supercharged 57C model was introduced, with a stiffer frame, rubber-mounted engine, and a Rootes-type compressor driven off the camshaft drive at the rear of the engine, running at 1.17 times engine speed. With a 5–6 psi boost, the potent motor now punched out 160 bhp, an astonishing figure at the time for a high-revving, three-litre car. Fitted with lightweight bodywork, close to 120 mph was now possible.

Chassis 57737 fitted with supercharged engine 50C was ordered by M Leyda, the Bugatti agent in Toulouse, for his client M Fouque on 30 May 1938, although it seems that the car was never actually sold to him. The chassis was assembled in a batch with four other Type 57C chassis at the Bugatti factory in Molsheim in July, and on 8 August, 57737 was in stock with Gangloff in Colmar, apparently awaiting an order. Gangloff finished the body to its 1938 Stelvio design, but the date of completion is not known. Interestinlgy, Gangloff only clothed forty 57C chassis with four-seat cabriolet coachwork.

On 24 May 1939, the car was first registered in the name of Roland du Pouget of the Villa Stella Maris in the rue Constant Tavet in Saint Servan, Brittany, not far from Saint-Malo. Du Pouget likely traded in his 1937 Atalante for his new four-seater Stelvio cabriolet. When war was declared on 3 September 1939, du Pouget found himself with his Bugatti and some friends on a hunting trip in Yugoslavia. All were ordered back to France within 24 hours. Tranquillity was short-lived, as the Bugatti was requisitioned shortly after the German invasion in mid-June 1940 by the local Nazi Kreismommandantur located at the Hôtel de France in Chateaubriand. Undeterred, du Pouget demanded his Bugatti back, and amazingly, with the help of a German friend from his racing days, he succeeded.

The car was squirreled away for the rest of the war and luckily survived the Allied bombing of Saint-Malo that took place from 6–14 August 1944 and destroyed nearly 80% of the city. After the war, du Pouget used 57737 for the baptism of his daughter Ghislaine. On 23 November 1954, the car was re-registered with number 933 BM 35, still in the name of Roland du Pouget. The Bugatti saw use in the ensuing years, but by 1959 it was stored under a tarpaulin in the yard of the Villa Stella Maris, now used for occasional outings and fishing trips.

Two years before, on 7 October 1957, du Pouget had responded to an advertisement in a car magazine placed by the famous early collector Jean-Louis du Montant, who was looking for beautiful classic cars. Du Montant did not write back until 18 March 1959, when he made a low offer for the car. Du Pouget declined and ended up keeping 57737 for another two years. In the spring of 1961, he sold to Marquis Robert de Goulaine of the Château de Goulaine near Nantes. The car was still in original red paint with aubergine fenders and brown leather.

De Goulaine had 57737 restored by Bugatti specialist Francis Mortarini in Montmorency, south of Paris. At some point it passed to Baron Napoleon Gourgaud of Taillis at the Château de la Grange in Essonne in the Île-de-France region, where it was placed in the museum of the château. On 3 May 1967, the Bugatti participated in the Paris-Nice rally with the number 47. The following year, in 1968, it took part in the filming of an R-rated movie titled Thérèse and Isabelle, a romantic-erotic drama about two high-school girls, where 57737 can be seen in a shot, swerving around the girls’ bicycles.

The Autorama de la Grange museum in the outbuildings of the château closed in December 1970. The collection was sold off in 1971–1972, and it is believed that the car may have passed shortly through the hands of collector Jacques Rousseau. On Friday, 16 June 1972, a sale of ‘prestigious race, sports, and city cars’ was held in Paris at the Pavillon Royal in the Bois de Boulogne. Six Bugattis were on offer, including 57737, which was bought by Albert Prost. Prost, whose main interest was Ferrari, did not keep the Bugatti, and it quickly went to the great collector Uwe Hucke.

The Bugatti was shown as a rolling chassis in Hamburg from 8 June to 28 August 1983 during a special Bugatti exhibition at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, after which the car was sold to collector Rudi Kreyer in Melle, south of Bremen in Germany. Chassis 57737 would stay with Kreyer for more than thirty years until August 2014, when it was acquired by the well-known dealer Jack Braam-Ruben from Maastricht, Holland. Braam-Ruben soon passed 57737 to its present owner, who used it in the International Bugatti Rally in Montreux in June 2016.

A recent inspection and report undertaken by Bugatti historian Pierre-Yves Laugier in December of 2019 confirms that the car retains its original chassis, engine, gearbox, rear axle, and bodywork. Amazingly, Laugier asserts that the present mileage on the car, showing 29,008 km at the time of inspection, could possibly be the car’s true mileage. His report is on file for inspection.

Today this rare supercharged Type 57C presents in remarkable, unmolested condition. The car has been cared for by a series of prominent and titled owners. It has known continuous history and a valid FIVA identity card. Chassis 57737 is a very rare survivor and a seldom-seen opportunity to acquire one of the most powerful and desirable road cars of the late 1930s.

  • Puissante Bugatti Type 57 à compresseur d'usine, en état d'origine
  • Historique connu depuis l'origine, provenance exceptionnelle
  • Belle carrosserie cabriolet d'origine par Gangloff
  • Châssis, moteur, boîte de vitesses, pont arrière et carrosserie d'origine
  • Inspectée récemment par le spécialiste de la marque Pierre-Yves Laugier

La Bugatti 57 a été dévoilée en 1934 et elle est généralement considérée comme un chef-d'œuvre de Jean Bugatti. A commencer par le superbe essieu avant creux, ce nouveau châssis symbolisait l'essence même du châssis sportif des années 1930. Le moteur 8-cylindres à double arbre à cames en tête était à lui seul une véritable sculpture art déco ; avec son bloc fin taillé à la serpe, ses cache-arbres à cames anguleux et ses accessoires magnifiquement fabriqués, il présentait une étonnante beauté.

En 1936 est apparue la version 57 C à compresseur, dotée d'un châssis plus rigide, d'un moteur monté sur silentblocs et d'un compresseur de type Rootes entraîné par la commande d'arbres à cames et tournant à 1,17 fois le régime moteur. Avec une pression de 0,35 à 0,40 bar, ce puissant moteur délivrait désormais 160 ch, chiffre étonnant à l'époque pour une voiture de 3 litres. Équipée d'une carrosserie légère, elle pouvait maintenant approcher 190 km/h.

Le châssis n°57737, équipé du moteur à compresseur n°50C, a été commandé le 30 mai 1938 par M. Leyda, agent Bugatti à Toulouse, pour son client M. Fouque, bien que la voiture ne lui ait semble-t-il jamais été vendue. Ce châssis faisait partie d'un lot qui, avec quatre autre châssis Type 57 C, a été assemblé en juillet à l'usine Bugatti de Molsheim ; le 8 août, 57737 était stocké chez Gangloff, à Colmar, apparemment dans l'attente d'une commande. Gangloff a réalisé une carrosserie correspondant à son modèle Stelvio 1938, mais la date de cette fabrication n'est pas connue. Il est intéressant de noter que Gangloff n'a équipé que 40 châssis 57 C d'une carrosserie cabriolet quatre places.

Le 24 mai 1939, la voiture a été immatriculée pour la première fois au nom de Roland du Pouget, demeurant Villa Stella Maris, rue Constant Tavet, à Saint-Servan (Bretagne), non loin de Saint-Malo. La transaction ayant permis à M. du Pouget d'acquérir son nouveau cabriolet Stelvio a probablement inclus la reprise de son Atalante de 1937. Lors de la déclaration de guerre, le 3 septembre 1939, Du Pouget se trouvait avec sa Bugatti et quelques amis en voyage de chasse en Yougoslavie. Tous ont dû rentrer en France dans les 24 heures. La tranquillité a été de courte durée car la Bugatti a été réquisitionnée peu après l'invasion allemande, en juin 1940, par la Kreiskommandantur nazi logée à l'Hôtel de France, à Chateaubriand. Cela n'a pas empêché Roland du Pouget d'effectuer des démarches pour récupérer sa Bugatti et étonnamment, avec l'aide d'un ami allemand datant de l'époque où il effectuait des courses automobiles, il a obtenu gain de cause.

La voiture a été mise en lieu sûr jusqu'à la fin de la guerre et a heureusement survécu aux bombardements alliés qui, du 6 au 14 août 1944, ont détruit presque 80% de Saint-Malo. Après la guerre, Du P