Posts Tagged ‘Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic’

bugatti atlantque

The wonderful, outrageous, avant-garde, art deco Atlantic is both a monument to Jean Bugatti’s design talent and also to pre-war Europe. It is one of the last visual wonders of its age before the focus of engineers was forced upon munitions, the resultant devastation the antithesis of the Bugatti’s beauty.

When Molsheim’s Aérolithe concept debuted at the 1935 Paris Salon, the public just didn’t get it. It was radical to behold, the body was made out of light, flammable ‘Elektron’ magnesium which was riveted externally giving the car its distinctive central seam. Under the haute couture clothes was a new ultra low, modified T57 chassis, also fitted to the ‘normal’ T57S and SC. The rear axle passed through the rear chassis frame rather than riding under it. Those elements and the T59 GP car derived DOHC 3257cc straight-8 engine, dry-sumped in this application to fit under the low bonnet, made the Aérolithe the most advanced car of its time.

T57 Atlantic cutaway (unattributed)

But Ettore Bugatti was disappointed in the work of art, the solo Aérolithe soon disappeared. To this day its fate is a mystery, explanations include it being a casualty of war or perhaps broken down for its parts. Not so long ago Aérolithe was recreated using original parts and materials with only 15 photographs as a resource and reference base. Quite a job!

After the Aérolithe show car, Bugatti produced four supercharged Atlantic coupes in 1936/7 using aluminum instead of magnesium for the bodies whilst keeping the rivets. Powered by supercharged straight-8’s, these circa 200bhp coupes exceeded 120mph- in 1936! In fact two unsupercharged Type 57S and two supercharged Type 57SC Coupes were built but both T57S’ were later supercharged by the factory, therefore becoming SC-‘surbaisse’- lowered and C-‘compresseur’-compressor in specification. All four cars still exist.

I thought this painting by Dietz the quintessential Parisian Atlantique scene…

Credit…

Dietz