Apart from the unified body designs customers could order a Type 57 chassis and have it bodied by their favorite coach builder. There were bodywork options which could be selected out of catalogs from companies like Gangloff or Graber, but when money was no object unique designs by the great contemporary coach builders like Franay, Letourneur & Marchand, Saoutchik, Figoni & Falaschi, Anthem and Van Vooren could be fitted. Results were often stunning, sometimes even bizarre, and it was not uncommon that Jean Bugatti was responsible for the design of these bodies.
The Type 57 may have been a Grand Tourer but that doesn't mean it wasn't successful in racing. From 1935 Type 57 cars have been used in competition, first with the Grand Raid chassis and later with the short and supercharged S chassis. In 1936 the famous Type 57 G (a lightened S chassis) with streamlined "Tank" bodywork won the French Grand Prix. A year later a similar car won the Le Mans 24-hour race. The last big victory of Bugatti in competition was the 1939 Le Mans 24-hour race with a Type 57 C, a racing car on the long wheelbase chassis with supercharged engine and a Tank-like streamlined body, capable of a 255 kph top speed. After this success Jean Bugatti had a fatal accident when test driving this car.
Belgian car restorer Bernard Marreyt and his team recreated this amazing Type 57 coupe. It was fashioned after original drawings by coachbuilder Gangloff. This expressive car looks remarkably modern with its low and streaming lines.
Also British coachbuilders have bodied Type 57 chassis. The best known British bodies on Type 57 chassis were by Corsica (don't let the Southern name fool you), like you see here. It's remarkable to see how Corsica has turned the exuberant French car into a traditional British drophead coupé without compromising the typical Type 57 look. World speed record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell owned a Corsica-bodied Type 57 roadster and claimed it was the fastest and safest series produced sports car on the market. That must have stimulated Bugatti sales in Britain...
One final appearance by the Type 57 chassis was made at the end of the 1940s. It formed the basis of the new Type 101, the first Bugatti production car after WW2. Generally regarded as the last true Bugatti it was unsuccessful with only 6 built.
With the Type 57 everything came together for Bugatti: commercial success, success in competition, acclaimed design, renown agility and driving qualities and excellent workmanship. It also proved to be the end of an era; WW2 had changed the world and the deaths of Jean and Ettore Bugatti had left the Bugatti factory inapt to change with it. Though the factory struggled on for a few decades the Type 57 remained the last car Bugatti was remembered by; the crown on the work of Ettore and Jean.
Credit: portions of the information contained in the text of this tour came from the book "Bugatti: Kunstwerke auf Rädern" by Axel von Saldern, published by Ellert und Richter in 1991 (ISBN 3-89234-218-0).
...finish by clicking the arrows pointing right...