Mistress or no stress? 2 Bugatti Atlantic in Paris

Only 4 Bugatti Atlantic were produced, this makes the venue of 2 of them in Paris this year something unique. Born originally in France, 50%...

Only 4 Bugatti Atlantic were produced, this makes the venue of 2 of them in Paris this year something unique. Born originally in France, 50% of remaining Bugatti 57S Atlantic cars were back in France this year for a limited time. In fact one (chassis #57473) was there during the ever more popular “Retromobile” event earlier this year, and the other one is part of Ralph Lauren’s Collection that was showcased at “Musée des Arts décoratifs” until end of august, 2011.

To come back on this mythical car, it was a “grand tourisme rapide” version of Bugatti Type 57 S coupé version. S stands for “surbaissée” or “lowered” and not for “sports”. Power was 180 CV and weight 950 kilos, allowing a top speed of 200 km/h. Estimation vary, but are in the 18 million Euros (26 M US Dollars) range …1610AV75 registration makes it a car from Paris, France.

57473: Bugatti with a mistress

Vintage automobiles Expert Christian Huet was presenting during Retromobile a book about the restoration of Bugatti Atlantic chassis #57473. This 1938 one has a very controversial story, since it was completely deleted in 1955

in a railway crossing. Its story until this fatal event was also special: its buyer was not willing to tell his wife how many Bugatti he owned and registered them in the names of his mistresses! In 1955 he and one other mistress died in this collision with a train. Sounds like judgement of God isn’t it? Anyway the car was kept for ten years by french Railway Company SNCF for investigation.

It was then restored until 2006 when Paul Russel took over a full restoration. He’s the man doing the job with Ralph Lauren’s collection. He made a full rebuild as stated is Christian Huet’s book who explains that only a segment of the front of the chassis frame and of the rear survived. On the bugatti builder there are also rumors coming from Paul Russell’s shop itself that it was destroyed more than this and that in fact not even a single metal part was reusable. Where is the truth?

In the end it seems realistic to consider that is this car is a full recreation and not a rebuild/restoration. For me it’s quite the same job as what was done on Ferrari’s 250 GTO made by Favre Garnier. Anyway if you want to take a close look to this recreation, you can make your own opinion by reviewing my Retromobile 2011 gallery.

57591: Bugatti with no stress

More recently Ralph Lauren was showcasing its version. That one also went thru Paul Russell’s restoration earlier  and the body was painted in black and this color was also used for the interior. My personal reaction would be to consider that this is a crime with regards to the car history. But in fact my favorite Classic and Sports Car magazine made an interview of Ralph Lauren in its may edition where he explains that this car as also fully restored in order to allow day to day use with no stress. I must say I like that, because it’s a great testimony of passion for arts and crafts in between world wars in France.
So what’s best? having this car not riding enough and getting worse over time as stated by previous owner, or doing some small transformations so that he can be back on the road and illuminate lives of people that can see it, not to mention its driver ? In my opinion, even if it’s not fully original, it’s an excellent compromise. Please have a look on other pictures in my Ralph Lauren album made from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs exhibition to make your own opinion on that one too.

Any comment on these cars? Do you support the ethics that are behind these restorations? please let us know!

PS: When writing this post I made a few surveys on the web and went to the Bugattibuilder forum of passionate people. Hopefully didn’t I read the post on this topic made by Herman otherwise I would not have started writing this. Please have a look on what they do and get plenty more erudite details. By the way, when I see all Bugatti folks at Le Mans Classic, I’m not surprised to see such a vivid community online.
Special thanks also to Ralph Lauren France with Matching-Numbers who organized the visit of the collection.

All of that makes me think that I must talk about Classic and Sports Cars and communities in a coming post. Keep connected.