1937 BUGATTI TYPE 57 VENTOUX
COACHWORK BY GANGLOFF
Chassis No. 57564
Engine No. 400
Silver and black with maroon leather interior
Engine: eight cylinders in-line, twin overhead camshaft, 3,257cc giving c.140bhp at 4,500rpm; Gearbox: 4-speed; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear; Brakes: mechanical to all wheels. Right hand drive.
Ettore Bugatti was one of the most remarkable car manufacturers in the history of the automobile, especially when one considers that he had no formal technical or engineering training. He had that rare gift of instinctively knowing what was right and the capability to organize others to produce his designs and ideas. Although best known for his superb motor cars, his talents in so many other fields of engineering are equally formidable. Whether designing aero engines, marine engines or his superb rail cars, his imagination and innovative genius produced better and more reliable designs resulting in over 900 patents related to these subjects in his name. He came from a uniquely talented family, the furniture designs of his father Carlo and the animal sculptures of his brother Rembrandt are just as renowned in their own fields as Ettore's road and racing cars.
The Type 57 may be seen as the considered response of Ettore Bugatti and his capable son Jean to the rapidly changing circumstances they faced in the 1930's. With a powerplant giving c.140bhp at 4,500rpm, it was powerful enough to offer traditional Bugatti levels of performance even when the chassis was equipped with a luxurious four-door saloon body. It was given a relatively easy-to-use constant-mesh gearbox with center change and had superlative mechanical brakes. Earlier Bugatti fast-touring designs had legendary maintenance costs; the Type 57's engine had plain bearings throughout, offering greatly extended engine life between overhauls.
The type 57 was not intended for competition but the popularity of sports car racing persuaded Bugatti to build four tank shaped cars known as 57G's which had outright success in the 1936 French Grand Prix and won both the 1937 and 1939 LeMans 24-hour races. With a range of glamorous body styles built in the Bugatti factory's own body shop at Colmar and given names invoking Alpine adventures, the car sold briskly through the 1930's, with 750 of all varieties built before production ceased in 1940.
Chassis 57546 is recorded as having been delivered new to a Monsiur Rosette of France. It is one of the later series Type 57s with the rubber engine mountings. In 1954 the Bugatti was purchased by enthusiast Jim McLean who commissioned Chapion to repaint the car. The Bugatti remained in Mr. McLean's ownership until it was purchased by Dr. Riddell in 1969. There were many unique features on this Ventoux that appealed to Dr. Riddell, in particular the beautiful pointed tail treatment on the rear portion of the car. While this subtle and unique design element perfectly complements the sleek design of the car, one wonders why this was not incorporated on any of the other Ventoux Bugattis. Some other unusual features are the beautiful wooden instrument panels complete with Jaguar gauges, typically reserved only for the Supercharged cars, and luxurious padded seating complete with arm rests and storage compartments which are far more comfortable than the standard style Bugatti chair. Finally the Ventoux houses a small secretive safe/storage compartment just behind the passenger seat.
In the late 1980s Dr. Riddell decided the Ventoux was due for a complete frame-off restoration. The engine was sent to renowned specialist Phil Reilly for a complete rebuild and the remainder of the car was restored, with work that included the frame being powder coated. Upon completion, the Bugatti scored 99 points at Grand Classic, and a very credible 2nd place honor at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in a highly competitive class. Like all of the Riddell cars the Ventoux was restored to be driven and it is fitted with Dunlop Racing tires. Dr. Riddell states that the Ventoux has seen close to 100mph on more than one occasion.
The Ventoux is fitted with the attractive optional wheel discs and sunroof for open air motoring. It is one of the more handsome formal cars from the classic era and would be a welcome entry in many International Bugatti Club, CCCA, or the many long distance touring events that are currently so popular. Naturally, it would also be a welcome entry at many Concours d'Elegance events.