For many years, the Bugatti line had separate vehicles for luxury and sport. In an effort to combine production and be within cost while still producing quality, the two forms were consolidated. The 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux was primarily designed to be a passenger car, but still maintain the thrill of Bugatti race cars. The concept was to offer the desired quality of the sports car while keeping the benefit of passenger use.
The Type 57 carried a high performance chassis. The engine featured twin overhead camshafts with a displacement of 3.3 liters. It was set with 90 degree incline valves and central spark plugs. The performance offered 35 more horsepower than previous models. The Rudge Witworth wire wheels combined with fifteen inch drum brakes made this car a dream ride of its time. Although it was simplistic in design the Type 57 exuded complicated high quality craftsmanship.
The transmission was linked by way of bell housing to the engine, which was a new concept for this line of vehicle. Prior models had the engine and transmission separated. The type 57 was always being upgraded, especially where braking and suspension were concerned.
The 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux featured a Dual Throat Updraft Stromberg UUR-2 Carburetor. The bore and stroke were at 72mm / 100mm. The 4-speed manual transmission could produce a top speed of 95mph. The suspension featured a rigid axle with semi-eliptic springs with Hartford Friction shock absorbers in the front, and Live Axle with a reversed quarter elliptic springs.
With the aluminum over steel frame, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57’s 3594 lbs was heavier than other vehicles of this time period. That being said, this machine was a maverick in performance and attraction. In many ways it shaped the modern vehicle of today, and holds a historic place in the automotive revolution.
The 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Stelvio is a beautiful automobile that influenced the future design of cars. Its sleek style and signature seam are easily recognized by auto enthusiasts everywhere. It is not just the stylish looks that make this car appreciated, but its innovative engine and construction.
Known for a quieter engine than its counterparts, the Bugatti 57 supplied power to the twin cam engine through gear usage rather than a chain drive. This fine machine could reach a top speed of 112 mph, which for the time was considered one of the faster speeds. Some models featured a supercharger that would enhance performance.
A unique feature of the Bugatti is the distinguished seam running center of its body. This is due to the composition of magnesium or aluminum side moldings that were riveted manually from the outside. The coachwork also featured tear drop shaped fenders and a vertically aligned chrome grill.
Produced as both a racing car and a touring car, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C was sought after by many. There is said to be just 80 of the Stelvio that were produced. Of those, 17 have yet to be located. This makes the Stelvio a classic piece of automobile history.
Though the Type 57C was a touring car, it did not have much room in the rear seat for additional passengers. One could fit, but not very comfortably. This beauty was really meant for a single driver and passenger. The inline eight engines with twin overhead cam produced performance results that more than made up for a lack of room for backseat passengers.
Some noteworthy owners of the classic Bugatti Type 57C include Ralph Lauren and Jay Leno. Another noteworthy owner was Prince Louis Napoleon of France. His vehicle featured a preselector gearbox by the company Cotal.