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57 Cabriolet by Vanvooren
The Bugatti Type 57 and later variants (including the famous Atlantic and Atalante) was an entirely new design by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore. Type 57s were built from 1934 through 1940, with a total of 710 examples produced.
Most Type 57s used a twin-cam 3,257 cc engine based on that of the Type 49 but heavily modified by Jean Bugatti. Unlike the chain-drive twin-cam engines of the Type 50 and 51, the 57's engine used gears to transmit power from the crankshaft.
The Type 57 chassis and engine was revived in 1951 as the Bugatti Type 101 for a short production.
The original Type 57 was a touring car model produced from 1934 through 1940. It used the 3.3 L (3,257 cc; 198 cu in) engine from the Type 59 Grand Prix cars, producing 135hp (100 kW). Top speed was 95 miles per hour (153 km/h).
It rode on a 130-inch (3,302 mm) wheelbase and had a 53.1-inch (1,349 mm) wide track. Road-going versions weighed about 2,100 pounds (950 kg). Hydraulic brakes replaced the cable-operated units in 1938, a modification Ettore Bugatti hotly contested. 630 examples were produced.
The Type 57 also was Bugatti's first use of a transmission fixed to the engine crankcase and a single plate clutch. The top three gears in the four-speed gearbox were constant mesh. Jean created a novel independent front suspension system using transverse leaf springs for the first two examples of the Type 57 before Le Patron spied it and insisted it be replaced by a proper Bugatti hollow tubular live axle. Thenceforth suspension was traditional Bugatti semi-elliptical front and reversed quarter-elliptical rear leaf springs with cable-operated mechanical drum brakes.
Much of the Type 57's commercial success may be attributed to Jean Bugatti's sensitive, flowing coachwork which graced the most famous of the chassis' examples. Atalante, Ventoux, Stelvio and the Galibier sedan vied with the best of France's and Europe's formidable coachbuilders' creations and comprised the bulk of Type 57 production. Bugatti's clients could have the best, but overwhelmingly they chose Jean Bugatti's designs on the Type 57.
The original road-going Type 57 included a smaller version of the Royale's square-bottom horseshoe grille. The sides of the engine compartment were covered with thermostatically-controlled shutters. It was a tall car, contrary to the tastes of the time.
Several catalogued body styles were offered, but the most popular open car was the dashing four-seat stelvio cabriolet. The bodies were penned by Jean Bugatti himself and built by several of the finest coachbuilders of the era, Letourneur & Marchand, Gangloff, with slight variations appearing over the years.
By 1930, Letourneur & Marchand were turning to streamlining. Their masterpiece in this regard, the “Coach JELM,” also known as “Coupe Panoramique,” was created by Letourneur’s son Marcel. Commonly called the “Yo-Yo car” from the Art Deco accent line on its body, its hallmark was a sweeping sidelight extending from door into the rear quarter, with overlapping glass and no centre pillar. Although most of their work was devoted to Delage, Letourneur & Marchand clothed many other chassis, among them Buick, Renault, Delahaye, Panhard, Rolls-Royce and Bugatti, the last receiving 19 bodies.
The Bugatti Type 57 was originally offered in four body styles, three of which were named after famous mountain peaks in the Alps: Galibier, Stelvio, and Ventoux. The four-seat, two-door Ventoux body was heavily influenced by sketches for the Type 50, and with its Profile style, the Ventoux was easily recognised for its sharply raked windshield. Unlike the Stelvio, which was commonly outsourced to various coachbuilders, the Ventoux had been designed in-house by Jean Bugatti himself. In addition, the sylphlike Atlantic and Atalante coupés evoked oceanic themes and Greek mythology.
When the Type 57 went into production in 1934, Vanvooren was given several chassis by Lamberjack to build into four-seater cabriolets. Numerous four-door, four-seater Type 57s were built at Courbevoie between 1934 and 1936. Four Type 57S chassis received Vanvooren cabriolet bodies between 1936 and 1937. Three coupés and a roadster were produced between 1938 and 1939. Numbers produced of this type of bodywork remained unclear, if we compare it to the total number of coaches and saloons produced between 1930 and 1936 on different chassis. An in-depth study of all Type 57 chassis that weren't produced by Bugatti or Gangloff has allowed us to compile a reasonably accurate list of the Type 57 chassis that had cabriolet bodies by Vanvooren. It appears that there were no more than twelve built, during the whole period of production between 1934 and 1939. Two designs were proposed by the coachbuilder from Spring 1934. The first design showed a cabriolet with fold-down windscreen and sloping vents on the bonnet, doors opening from the front to the back, flanges on the rear wings and no sign of a trunk. The second design revealed a cabriolet with doors opening from back to front, fixed windscreen, vertical vents on the bonnet on the bonnet and rear trunk.
In 1934, it appears that just four Type 57 cabriolets were built by Vanvooren :
- The first, chassis 57104, delivered to Lamberjack on 22 June, built to the second design.
- The second, chassis 57146, delivered to Lamberjack on 28 July, is based on the first design.
- The third, chassis 57205, appears to have been prepared for the Motor Show in October 1934, from the first design.
- The last, chassis 57162, delivered to Lamberjack on 10 November 1934, comes from the second design. It carried the spare wheels on the front wings.
In 1935, only three Type 57 cabriolets were bodied by Vanvooren :
- Chassis 57269, delivered to LABESSE on 3 May.
- Chassis 57274, delivered to MOURRAL on 4 April.
Both these cars were built according to the second design.
57269 which was the fourth and last car bodied according to the second design, and the only one not to have the spare wheels on the front wings.
On 24 December 1935, a third Vanvooren cabriolet, chassis 57368, was delivered to M.LEROUX. It had a unique design that was already in the style of the 1936 models.
Between 1936 and 1939, four further four-seater cabriolets were built by Vanvooren - numbers 57617, 57287, 57695 and 57757. A two-seater cabriolet, chassis 57430 delivered in 1936 and a two-seater roadster, chassis 57808c in 1939, completes the list. Of the known production of twelve cabriolets, just four have survived with their body on the original chassis (57162-57205-57274-57368). The body of 57146 is on chassis 57407 as ordered by its first owner. The body of 57757 is on a new factory chassis. 57617 retains its original body and 57287, whose body was built in 1938, was completely destroyed by fire a short while ago.
The body of the two-seater cabriolet 57430 is on a different chassis today.
The "tuned" Type 57T pushed the performance of the basic Type 57. It was capable of reaching 115 miles per hour (185 km/h).
A Type 57C racing car was built from 1937 through 1940, with about 96 produced. It shared the 3.3 L engine from the road-going Type 57 but produced 160hp (119 kW) with a Roots-type supercharger fitted.
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