Ex-Ettore Bugatti Type 57C ‘Factory’ Coupe Offered For Sale

Bugatti Type 57C
Bugatti Type 57C

One of the most interesting late Bugatti Type 57C ‘factory’ coupes owned by Ettore Bugatti himself will be offered for sale in February 2022…

While every single Bugatti Type 57 is special, this particular car is closely linked to the ‘Patron’, Ettore Bugatti with drawings for its unique body design originating from the eldest son, Jean, who can now take credit for much of the Type 57’s commercial success.

Jean utilised his talented imagination and even devised a new independent leaf spring front suspension system on the first two examples of the Type 57 and therefore resurrecting the traditional Bugatti layout with semi-elliptical springs at the front and quarter-elliptical inverted at the rear with cable-controlled drum brakes.

Bugatti Type 57C

It’s worth remembering, Bugatti devotees could afford the best and would more often than not choose the creations of Jean Bugatti for the Type 57, and although financial issues had troubled the marque, development of the Type 57 continued with the adoption of a reinforced chassis and a silentbloc engine and the appearance of the Type 57 C with 160 hp compressor in 1936.

It was from that development the Type 57C Special Coupe No. 57335 was created with various sources claiming it was given as a birthday present to Ettore Bugatti by the workers who were a disappointment to him when they occupied the Molsheim factory back in 1936.

Bugatti Type 57C

Factory Car

Anecdotes aside, the car was built for ‘internal use’ only and appears as being completed on June 23, 1938, under the designation ’57/486 23.6 57335, 2 tones of green, green leather’ which means the coupe left the factory with engine no. 486 and received the gray card belonging to chassis 57335. In other words, it will not be the only car to run with the papers of 57335 and the number of registration 3738 NV3 but will retain this identity throughout its life at the factory from 1938 – 1959.

On closer inspection, the demonstration register refers to the car on the 15th August 1939 as being one of the ten cars to be designated as ‘factory’ and described as ‘special green motor coach 486 factory‘.

Bugatti Type 57C

Ettore Bugatti – Type 57C

The backstory becomes even more interesting when, in 1959, famous Bugatti collector and dealer in Belgium, Jean De Dobbeleer, buys the car from the factory which is described in a letter that states: “sale of our car 57 with compressor in the condition you know and after a test, at a price of 1,000,000 francs, serial number 57335, engine 340, Galibier coupe, green paint on black and we confirm that this car belonged to Mr. Ettore Bugatti and was recently driven by our general manager, Mr. Pierre Marco”. The letter also states that the compressor was installed when the Type 57 was still owned by the factory.

Bugatti Type 57C

Incredibly, this particular car is the only Bugatti Type 57 to be kept for 20 years by the factory and is considered by many experts as a rolling laboratory still in use in the early 1950s when the Type 101 was presented.

Many of its styling cues can still be found in the latest series of Galibier sedans, including the sloping rear panel, teardrop fenders, and sidewalls without steps. The car has a unique two-piece sunroof that Jean had already used on the imperious Type 41 Royale.

Bugatti Type 57C

The grille is the usual Bugatti model, not the V-shaped grille designed by Jean, who worked more and more on the production Type 57, with headlights positioned very low in the fender giving the traditional grille more prominence.

The glorious interior is adorned with light olive green leather to match the livery of the bodywork, green on black. Wood paneling surrounds the glazing and the rear bumper wears an unusual Bugatti crest not seen previously in this location.

Bugatti

So financially challenged was Bugatti at the time, the car was assigned the chassis number of a Type 57 roadster in the name of Ettore Bugatti previously destroyed, in order to avoid paying the taxes on a new vehicle.

Chassis no. 57335 has been examined by experts including Hugh Conway who is said to be astonished by its breathtaking condition and originality, down to its harness and electrical components. All the finishes are as Bugatti requested three-quarters of a century ago. In addition to its abundant documentation, it comes with a complete set of EB-branded tools in a leather case. The floor and the hood have their original number stamped.

Bugatti

The 1938 Bugatti Type 57C is being offered as part of Bonhams ‘Les Grandes Marques du Monde a Paris‘ sale on 3 Feb 2022 and carries an estimate of €2,000,000

Images courtesy of Bonhams


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