1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Corsica Type Alloy RoadsterSOLD

RM Auctions - The Ponder Collection - Texas - April 20-21st, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $600,000 - $700,000


$836,000 Sold

220hp 3,257cc twin overhead cam inline supercharged eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, coil springs with semi-elliptic leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3.3m

A Beautifully Executed Rebody on an Original T57 Chassis and Engine, Verified and Inspected by a representative of the American Bugatti Club 1938 Bugatti T57SC Corsica Roadster Alloy Coachwork Constructed in the 1960s

The Type 57 is one of the most celebrated of all non-racing Bugatti chassis. Its unbeatable combination of style and performance made it an instant success and, from its first introduction, provided Jean Bugatti with a final and lasting legacy for the automotive record books.

Prior to 1934, Bugatti set the lofty goal of creating an automobile that exuded the excitement and racing heritage of the company, while incorporating the refinement and driveability of a road car. The Type 57 was successful in combining some of the character of the racing chassis, but offering a level of comfort that even the most polished of European elite appreciated.

Some of the most memorable automotive designs undoubtedly carry the Bugatti name. Many of these were the inspiration of Jean Bugatti, and offered by him as factory catalog body styles. A number of Type 57 convertible bodies in his catalog were dignified and pleasing to look at, but lacked the flair seen on his racy closed cars, such as the Atalante or Atlantic.

As a result, Bugatti envisioned a more exotic open car that would set a new standard for styling. The coachbuilding firm of Gangloff was entrusted with the task of crafting the new model; the results were nothing less than spectacular.

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.

By this time Ettore Bugatti himself was devoting the bulk of his time to the production of the Bugatti race cars while his 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 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 it formerly was, 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.

Before 1927, the Bugatti factory had not produced coachwork for their own cars, if one discounts the racing bodywork of the Type 35, its variants and other early racing models. But thereafter they 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 onward, Jean Bugatti was to play an increasingly important role as a stylist, working in conjunction with chief coachwork designer Joseph Walter.
For the new Type 57 model, the factory offered a choice of the Galibier four-door saloon, the Ventoux two-door coupe and the Stelvio cabriolet, 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 to execute the construction to their own personal requirements.

According to the American Bugatti Club records, chassis no. 57577 began life as a Stelvio cabriolet, delivered October 8, 1938 to the agent, Monestier for his client, Glaizal. It is believed that the current replica coachwork was built and fitted sometime in the 1960s while in Switzerland. According to club registrar Mr. Sandy Leith, if the Bugatti were to remain in the US, it would likely be catalogued in the Registry as (57577) not as (57584) which it shows currently as all physical evidence appears to support the claim.

There seems little doubt that the frame, engine and rear axle assemblies are all derived from the same car. It is therefore, very likely that his car represents the continuous history of the chassis no. 57577 with engine no. C15 and gearbox no. 248 with all numbers having been verified in a physical inspection.

The Corsica style coachwork on the Bugatti is a duplication of the T57S, chassis number 57593, which was originally designed by Eric Giles for his brother Colonel Godfrey Giles. Notably, Giles was also the former Chairman of the Bugatti Owners Club. In review of the period pictures of this car one can see all the perfectly executed similarities as well as several modifications to the original Corsica coachwork including the polished metal treatment along the beltlines, rear fenders and rear end. While the original Corsica Roadster does exist today, its availability for purchase is not possible as it resides in a private collection in California where it is likely to remain for decades.

Today, following a full mechanical restoration by noted Bugatti specialist and Pebble Beach Best of Show award-winning restorer Mr. Jim Stranberg of High Mountain Classics, the T57 is in superlative overall condition. Stranberg restored the engine, transmission and brake system and we understand the car runs flawlessly. Cosmetically, it is simply stunning with its exquisite interior and show worthy paint. The brightwork is equally impressive and also appears to be in excellent overall condition. The underbody, engine and bay are all in corresponding condition showing virtually no signs of road use at all.

A simply stunning execution of a quality rebody executed to such high standards is a rare thing to see and the Bugatti of the Ponder Collection certainly ranks as one of the finest in existence. Its overall quality is peerless in every respect and we encourage those interested to inspect the car in person to see how truly exceptional this Bugatti is.

Reference Number 7613

as of 2/27/2007

Car 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Corsica Type Alloy Roadster
VIN 57584 
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