When scrolling through popular classic cars on the auction site, it’s a rare thing to come across a mention of the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. You may never see one in person. But it’s genuinely a sculpted piece of automotive beauty and history. What makes this collector car so elusive?
Only One Ever Existed
While four Type 57 Atlantic rides were crafted, only one was made in 1938. It was built for British tennis start Richard B. Pope and was labelled No. 57591. The chassis and engine are both stamped with the identifying number.
What made this one special? It had a lowered suspension and a supercharger added to the original coupe design created by Jean Bugatti. Heads turn as the elongated hood, and sinuous curves rumble by. It’s automotive perfection.
Fortunately, the breathtaking sports car has always stayed in the public eye. It has been owned by Barrie Price, Anthony Bamford, and fashion designer Ralph Lauren. He had it fully restored by Paul Russel in 1990, and it remains ready to this day.
Modern-Day Muscle Under Its Beautiful Hood
While many cars in the 30s struggled to earn more than 50 horsepower, the 3.3L straight-eight engine found on the Type 57SC Atlantic churned out an impressive top speed of 124 mph and 200 horsepower.
A unique use of spur gears at the rear of the engine block and a fibre gear wheel on the camshaft delivered a smooth and much quieter ride while its supercharger enabled it to compete at the highest level. Even so, these stunning vehicles were built for motoring enthusiasts that embraced Jean Bugatti’s unique vision.
A Design That Speaks to the Ages
Most people have never seen a Bugatti from the 30s in person, but when you look at Type 57 Atlantic, you’re instantly transported to an era of glamour and excitement.
This coupe is a shortened version of the touring model. Its boot was shaved off the back, and its roofline was shaped to optimize performance. The compact body was clad in lightweight aluminum panels, tipping the scales at just 2,090 pounds. Unlike other touring Bugatti machines, it doesn’t have covered fenders, which lowers its final weight.
The iconic dorsal fin along its roof is a leftover from the prototype designs where they used rivets to secure the body panels instead of welding. Due to its broad appeal, Bugatti left the ridge in his Atlantic design.
As a 57SC, it also added the independent front suspension, which helped it hug the ground and tight corners.
Its door panels curve up into the roof. This creates a more accessible entry for the driver and passenger without harming its visual aesthetic.
A Crowded Trophy Case
This singular classic car continues to collect awards at car shows worldwide. After its restoration in 1990, it earned Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Its appeal reaches the generations garnering the Young People’s Award and Italia Trophy at the 2013 Villa d’Este Concorso at Villa Erba.
Why is It Called the Type 57 Atlantic?
When Jean Bugatti started building the various Type 57 vehicles, he dubbed each body type with a unique name. This was initially referred to as the Mermoz in honour of his good friend, early aviator Jean Mermoz. This would be a car meant to fly around the racecourse. However, after the pilot vanished over a trans-Atlantic flight, the sporty coupe was given the Atlantic moniker.
This isn’t the same as the Type 57 Atalanta, as that is the touring coupe built on the same chassis.
There was also a Type 57 Galibier with four doors, a Stelvio convertible, and a Ventoux elongated coupe.
How Much Will You Pay for a Bugatti Type 57?
If you only want a production Type 57 in your garage and don’t need to have the elusive Atlantic, you’ll expect to spend a cool $1.5 million for the honour.
However, when the sister car to the 1938 Type 57 Atlantic went on sale in 2021, No. 57374 went for a mere $30 million. You can see this rare vehicle at the Mullin Automotive Museum.
But there’s a missing Type 57SC Atlantic out there somewhere. If the fourth car ever was found, collector car experts estimate it could make the hammer sound at around $114 million.
Protecting Your Classic Car for Future Generations
While you may not have a singular classic car like a Bugatti in your garage, your muscle car still deserves to be fully protected against unexpected damage. Wayfarer Insurance Group offers affordable and flexible collector car insurance policies for your antique ride, whether 20 or 80 years old. Call us today for a quick quote.