London

Battersea Evolution
8 September 2014
Lot 157

1937 Bugatti Type 57C Stelvio by Gangloff

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£593,600 GBP | Sold

United Kingdom | London, United Kingdom

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Chassis No.
57467
Engine No.
2C
  • The first Type 57C sold
  • Built for great Bugatti customer Dr Jacques Kocher
  • Formerly owned by Bernard Delbreil-Berges
  • Documented by Yves-Paul Laugier
language

160 bhp, 3,257 cc DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine with a Roots-type supercharger, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, solid rear axle with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel Lockheed cable-operated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,302 mm

Addendum: Please note that this since photographing this car it has had its original bumpers refitted and the car was also subject to a bodywork restoration including the woodwork, metalwork, chrome work and paintwork at French specialist Auto Classique Touraine.

The supercharged Bugatti Type 57C engine made its first appearance at the 1936 Paris Salon, and it was soon available on the improved second-series Type 57 chassis that appeared in late 1936. With this addition of considerable power and improved performance, the Type 57C is regarded as one of the best all-around touring Bugattis ever built, and it remains the apogee of the Bugatti road car legend.

CHASSIS NUMBER 57467

The report of Bugatti historian Yves-Paul Laugier, a copy of which is on file, states that the car offered here, chassis number 57467, was the very first Type 57C sold, and it was also the first Gangloff Type 57 Drophead built. Laugier notes that the records of Lyon Bugatti agent Pierre Monestier list that its original owner, Dr Jacques Kocher, returned his previous Type 57 Stelvio and placed an order for the Type 57C on 15 December 1936. That order was later cancelled and a new order was placed on 10 February 1937. It is believed that the December 1936 date was the delivery of the chassis at the Gangloff shop.

The delivery of the first Type 57C to Dr Kocher could not have been more apt. The good doctor was the head surgeon at the Valence hospital in Drome, and he was also Monsieur Monestier’s best customer, as he ordered a total of 14 Bugattis between 1925 and 1938. Dr Kocher was well regarded at the Bugatti factory for his patronage, and his automobiles were often the first to receive the latest features, such as, in this instance, a supercharged engine.

Monestier’s sales book recounts that Dr Kocher registered the car in Valence as 61 FA 3 in February 1937. As he usually did, he kept the Bugatti for one year before trading it in for the next model, and in March 1938, it was sold to a Parisian buyer, who registered it as 4964 RL 6. A second Parisian owner purchased the car on 16 June 1939.

A 1942 registration book sourced by Laugier records the car as having been sold on 24 February 1942 to the Garage Moderne, of 122 Antibes Street in Nice, and registered as 3416 BA 7. It was later sold back to Paris, still during the war, on 31 March 1943, and it was registered as 5666 RN 3. Around that time, its identity was changed with the installation of a new chassis plate, number 57354, which was taken from a Type 57 Galibier. Nonetheless, the car retains its components, and the original chassis number, 57467, is still present on the engine leg, along with the original engine number, 2C, which confirm the car’s continued and genuine identity.

On 19 May 1951, the car was registered in Paris as 5317 AG 75, in the name of diplomat William Curteis, who was stationed at the American Embassy at 2 Avenue Gabriel. It is known to have remained in Curteis’s ownership until 1961, during which time it was visited by Phillipe Berlin at the diplomat’s personal garage on the rue de la Tombe, Issoire. It retained its original front bumpers, 57C logo, and dashboard, and it was still finished in Dr Kocher’s preferred shades of green.

Berlin also noted that hydraulic brakes and Allinquant shock absorbers were installed at this time, which Laugier believes are original features to the car, as Dr Kocher’s Bugattis had always been the first to receive new specifications. Berlin also recounted that the car had been previously owned by a very well-known Bugatti, Ferrari, and Duesenberg mechanic, Joseph Cattaneo, and if so, he was likely the Parisian owner between 1944 and 1951.

On 29 October 1961, Curteis finally parted with his Bugatti, selling it to Gerard Simonin, of Nogent. Three years later, it was sold to well-known collector Bernard Delbreil-Berges, of Saint Lizier. Delbreil-Berges kept this car until the mid-2000s, often entering his favourite car in international rallies, in which it was enthusiastically driven with gusto. It was repainted during his ownership in black and purple tones, but it always retained all of its original components, including the very rare early 57C intake manifold.

In more recent times, the Bugatti was acquired by French collector Michel Blanchard and received a fresh restoration, in which it was refinished in its present and tasteful black and cream colour scheme. As far as is known, it retains all of its major mechanical components and its original coachwork, with its only significant mechanical upgrades being the hydraulic brakes and telescopic shock absorbers, which were mentioned earlier and are still present today. This well-preserved car with its original engine is highly original, and its history has been beautifully documented by Laugier.

This beautiful car was the first Type 57C produced, and it combines one of the finest body designs with one of the best engines and incredible history, which includes original ownership by one of the factory’s best customers and continued long-term history with great European enthusiasts. It is simply spectacular.