Bugatti Reminds Us Of The Story Of Legendary Type 57 SC Atlantic

The Type 57 SC Atlantic is perhaps the greatest Bugatti in the history of the brand – and one of the most iconic cars ever. Only four examples were made between 1936 and 1938, with three of them still around, making it perhaps the most valuable car in the world.

Ettore Bugatti’s son developed the Type 57 as a platform, which spawned several variants including the Galibier (four-door saloon), Stelvio (convertible), Ventoux (two-door saloon) and Atalante (coupé). When production stopped in 1940, Bugatti had produced around 800 Type 57 models, making it one of the most popular Bugattis.

However the Atlantic was different. The bodywork was developed from the unique Aérolithe prototype. The Aérolithe, chassis number 57104, had bodywork made out of Electron, an alloy of 90 percent magnesium and 10 percent aluminum. Thanks to the magnesium’s flammable nature, Jean Bugatti couldn’t weld the body panels together, resulting in the famous dorsal seam.

The Type 57 SC Atlantic kept the rivets on the dorsal seam, despite using aluminum panels. The doors continued into the roof for easier entry and exit to and from the low-slung coupe that measures just 3.7 meters in length.

The first two examples came with headlights integrated into the wings while the other two feature separate housings. Each one of the four cars came with their own unique detailing.“The Type 57 SC Atlantic is a design manifesto of Jean Bugatti. The breathtaking proportions of this masterpiece were simply unparalleled at the time and are still thrilling to the present day with their fascinating elegance,” says Achim Anscheidt, Director of Design at Bugatti.

Power came from a 3.3-liter straight-eight engine producing up to 200hp, making the Atlantic capable of speeds over 200km/h (124mph) during a period where horse-drawn carts were still used on most roads.

The first model was built in 1936 for British banker Victor Rothschild, finished in grey-blue. Chassis number 57374 is now known as the “Rothschild Atlantic” and was originally delivered without a supercharger.

The third car is the “Holzschuh Atlantic”, chassis number 57473, delivered to Jacques Holzschuh of France in October 1936. The second owner of the car was killed during an accident on a level crossing, leaving the Atlantic completely destroyed. Decades later, the remains became a subject of a complex restoration, which didn’t include the original engine as it was deemed too far gone to be saved.

The fourth and final Atlantic, chassis number 57591, is the “Pope Atlantic”. It was completed in May 1938 for Briton R.B.Pope. Its current owner is none other than fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

Jean Bugatti kept the second Atlantic for himself. The “La Voiture Noire” (the black car), chassis number 57453, was driven only by him or a few selected friends. Bugatti used it as a display car for photos in brochures and as a demonstrator in international motor shows up until 1938, where the car simply vanished. No one knows exactly what happened to it, if Jean Bugatti sold it or whether it was moved to a safer location when the Germans invaded Alsace.

To this day, the second Atlantic has not been found, making its disappearance one of the greatest mysteries. With an estimated value of over 100 million euros ($113 million), the lost Type 57 SC Atlantic is the true king of the automobile world.

Bugatti is reportedly working on something truly special for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, so maybe it felt the need to remind us its greater achievement before the next one? Food for thought.


more photos...

  • Bash

    Pure beauty.

  • Six Thousand Times

    Glorious. The Guild in Ontario actually re-created the Aerolithe using the same materials.

    • Yep and making the body in Elektron is pain in the ar*e process. Also they need to find supplier who can provide elektron metal that have enough size.

      The car itself could contained the original parts of the Aerolithe coupe. But the owners modestly said since he couldn’t proof it, he didn’t made the claim.

  • AstonMartin

    Art from all angles.

  • ➡️ProtectOurHeritage⬅️

    Back when their cars were styled well. Oh how the times change!

  • Stephen G

    Nice but not quite as good looking as the Talbot-Lago T150 SS Coupe. Big question is who inspired whom. Also more modern version: 1995 Chrysler Atlantic Concept

2019 LA Auto Show Preview: A-To-Z Guide To All The Debuts (Updated)

The most comprehensive list of all the world and North American premieres at the 2019 LA Auto Show.

Uninsured Lamborghini Urus Driver Acts Like A Tool, SUV Gets Seized By The Police

The man was only insured to drive his parents’ VW Golf, not Lamborghini’s super SUV.

Hyundai Is Bringing A Mysterious Global Debut To Los Angeles

The mystery model will be shown alongside a plug-in hybrid crossover concept and the facelifted Ioniq.

2020 Jetta VS7 Is A Seat Tarraco In Disguise For China

The 2020 Jetta VS7 comes exclusively with a 1.4-liter with a six-speed manual or auto.

Kia Teases What Looks To Be The Seltos For The U.S.

The Kia Seltos is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines depending on the market.

2020 Macan Turbo And Taycan 4S Headline Porsche’s LA Auto Show Lineup

The entry-level Porsche Taycan costs $103,800.

Guess Who’s Excited About The Ford Mustang Mach-E? Yep, That Would Be Elon Musk

Musk hopes the Ford Mustang Mach-E will push other automakers to go electric.

UAW Members Narrowly Approve Ford Contract That Includes Plant Closure

Ford’s contract with the UAW calls for a new product to be built at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant that makes the Mustang.

Ferrari GTC4 Grand Lusso Is The Four-Door Prancing Horse You Never Knew You Wanted

The Ferrari GTC4 Grand Lusso has a sleek design with sharp angles and would make for a practical super saloon.

BMW’s i4 Has More Power Than The M3 At 523 HP, Can Charge Up To 80% In 35 Minutes

The BMW i4 will have an 80 kWh battery which will enable the model to travel 373 miles on a single charge.