Classic Cars The 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic Wrenches com

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1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic

On August 11, 1939, Jean Bugatti was test-driving the Type 57 Tank racecar on a test track near the Bugatti Factory when he swerved to avoid a drunken bicyclist who had wandered onto the track. He lost control of the car and was … in the tragic accident. He was only 30 years old when he died.

The untimely demise of the son of company founder, Ettore Bugatti, is made all the more tragic by the legacy of the automotive genius he left behind that is told in the steel and shape of the cars he designed and built. The unfulfilled promise of his great potential can only leave car buffs to wonder what might have been.

The Bugatti Type 57

The Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic


The Type 57 was an entirely new Bugatti design by Jean that was based on the Type 49, but it was heavily modified, making it a completely new car. The 3.2-liter in-line 8-cylinder engine was updated with twin cams to replace the single-cam engines of earlier Bugatti s, and gears replaced the chain drives of earlier engines to transmit power from the crankshaft. The motor was fed by dual Stromberg carburetors and was developed 135 horsepower.

Later versions were supercharged. The Type 57 was produced between 1934 and 1940, and only 710 were built.

The best known and most desirable of the Type 57s is the Type 57 SC. The S in the designation stood for surbaisse, meaning lowered, and referred to modifications made to the chassis and suspension to lower the body profile the car.

The Dream in Steel: The Aerolithe Prototype and the Atlantic

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The design was based on the concept Electron Aerolithe prototype that was shown at the 1935 Paris Motor Show. While this concept car was sheathed in a recently invented magnesium/aluminum alloy rather than steel, some poetic license must be given when speaking about the amazing automobile that was the inspiration for the Atlantic.

Because the magnesium alloy used for the body panels was highly flammable, rivets were used instead of welds to piece together the body. Jean Bugatti s genius for design is shown in how he overcame this problem and incorporated the use of riveting in the aesthetic lines of the car, resulting in the distinctive dorsal fins that are so famous on the Atlantic.

1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic

Four (some say three) of the Type 57SC chassis were turned into what many have called the most beautiful and inspiring of all classic cars: The Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. Aluminum was used in the body construction for the production cars rather than the flammable magnesium alloy, but the distinctive dorsal fin of the Aerolithe concept car was retained.

The first car of the classic cars 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic that rolled out of the Bugatti factory already looked like something that should be on display in a museum. The aerodynamic fuselage and the long sweeping fenders made it look like a rolling piece of sculpture rather than the world s fastest production car and would influence automobile design for decades to come.

One of the last surviving classic cars 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic shown above was recently purchased at auction for over $30 million and is on permanent display at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California. Go to this link  to find out more today.

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