bugatti_type_57_sAs the 1930s progressed, Bugatti sportscars became even more flamboyant. This was necessary to compete with other well-known cars of the time including the Delages, Delahayes and Bentleys – the market leader with a range of large-engined brutally fast cars prior to its takeover by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

The Bugatti T57, first seen in 1934, was fitted with a 3.3-litre twin-overhead-camshaft straight eight engine mounted on a strong steel chassis with a body built by Bertelli and designed by Eric Giles.

During its production life the T57 was sold in various distinctly different types, with many body styles. The most sporting of all were the short-chassis, lowered Type 57S, and its supercharged version, which was listed as the 150kW Type 57SC, though only about 40 of these two derivatives, from a total Type 57 output of 750 cars, were produced.The Type 57S was powered by a 97 kW engine which could be boosted to 120 kW with a supercharger.

Examples of the T57 won the 1936 French Grand Prix (a sports car race) and the Le Mans 24-hour races of 1937 and 1939. Another model introduced in 1937 was the Atalantas, the first of which was powered by a four-cylinder overhead-camshaft engine of either 1.5- or 2.0-litres, both also available with an optional supercharger. In 1938, however, the car became available with the 4.3-litre Lincoln-Zephyr V12 which gave much better performance for little extra cost. This car was designed by Ettore’s son Jean, who joined his father in the early 1930s and took over control of factory operation in 1936 following a strike by discontented workers.

During World War II, the Bugatti factory was occupied by the Germans and car production was never seriously re-started after that. The only Bugattis sold were a handful of Type 101s, which used the Type 57 chassis with updated, rather bizarre body styles.

All Bugatti cars were the work of either Ettore or Jean Bugatti. Ettore was an Italian who designed his very first car in 1900 when still only 19 years old. Although all of his designs were considered aesthetically magnificent at the time they were sometimes thought of as technically backward. Even the earliest Bugattis, however, with their small relatively hard-working engines, showed signs of the precision manufacture which has always been a hallmark of the owner’s quest for excellence.

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