1939 BUGATTI TYPE 57 STELVIO CABRIOLET
Chassis No. 57740
Engine No. 349 ex-57470
Green over cream with tan leather interior
Engine: straight eight, twin overhead camshafts, sixteen valves, 3257cc, 135bhp at 4,500rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual, center change; Suspension: beam front axle with semi-elliptic springs, live rear axle with reversed quarter-elliptic springs, telescopic shock absorbers front and rear; Brakes: four wheel finned drum brakes with hydraulic actuation. Right hand drive.
Introduced in 1934, the Type 57 Bugatti soon established itself as one of the most desirable high performance touring cars of its period. The ultimate version of this remarkably successful model was introduced in the latter half of 1938, in good time for the 1939 model year. Later chassis frames were stiffened considerably when compared with the Series I model, principally by the addition of a cruciform center section, as well as several other small but significant changes which ensured that the car was progressively improved throughout its five year production run.
Discounting the much more expensive and consequently, far rarer Type 57S sports model, the number of Type 57 Bugattis constructed was around 660, the exact figure remaining indeterminate from the incomplete surviving factory records.
The first recorded owner of this particular car was a Belgian named Swennen of Liege in the 1950s. The car then passed to Belgian Bugatti dealer, Jean de Dobbeleer of Brussels who offered it as chassis no. 57450, and in 1956 sold it through his American Bugatti agent, Gene Cesari to John F. Comey of Ohio. Hugh Conway's 1962 Bugatti Register lists the car as chassis no. 57450, a black Gangloff Stelvio drophead owned by Comey, adding that it was a 1938 model but quoted no engine number. The latest edition of the American Bugatti Register was compiled by Sandy Leith in 2003, where this particular car's entry, in contrast to all previous ones, lists it as chassis no. 57740 fitted with engine no. 349 from chassis no. 57470, and stated that it was originally delivered to Bugatti's Paris showroom in February 1939 fitted with engine no. 515. It is now definite that this is the correct chassis number for the car as the gearbox, front and rear axle are all numbered 515, corresponding with the original engine fitted to this car. Consequently, a new brass chassis plate has been issued by the American Bugatti Register.
Remaining in the ownership of the Comey family for almost fifty years, this car has been the subject of a long term restoration, the tan leather upholstery having only just been finished. Offered in complete and running order, this Type 57 is poised to be enjoyed by the new owner.
Included with this lot is a large quantity of spare parts, and interested parties should contact a member of Christie's staff for a complete list. Notable inclusions are: a set of used pistons with ring set, a Zenith carburetor, two Bosch distributors, two re-profiled camshafts, various ancillary engine hardware, suspension components and miscellaneous electrical parts, to name but a few. Of particular note is the fact that some unrelated Type 55 parts are also included, these being a set of used clutch plates, a pair of re-profiled camshafts and a wheel lug wrench.