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Bugatti Type 64 Coupe Chassis - Click above for high-res image gallery

Bugatti buffs know that only one Type 64 was ever built way back in 1939. What they may not know is that an extra two Type 64 chassis were stamped at the factory in Molsheim but sadly never finished. That is, never finished until now. One of the two Type 64 chassis wound up in the hands of car collector extraordinaire Peter Mullin and is currently on naked display at his new Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, CA. Thanks to a design contest at Pasadena's Art Center, Stewart Reed Design will be building a brand new body for chassis #64002. A new gullwing body, we should add. Continue reading, after the jump.


  • Bugatti Type 64 chassis #64002, the second of three Type 64 chassis ever built at the factory. Not the background renderings of the proposed Art Center/Stuart Reed Coupe coachwork.
  • Good look at the balsa-wood placeholder. This gives you an idea of where the finished lines will be.
  • The Type 64 chassis is the same length as the Type 57 Chassis, though wider, lighter and stronger.
  • Note the non-horseshoe grill, similar to the Type 57SC
  • Mullin Automotive Curator Andrew Reilly showing off the proposed gullwings
  • Sporting leaf springs and dampers, the Type 64 sits on the cusp of old and new
  • About the most beautiful radiator cap you're likely to see
  • Everyone loves wire wheels with knock off hubs.
  • The straight-eight, DOHC 4.4-liter V8 produced 170 horsepower in 1939
  • An exceedingly beautiful fuel rail
  • Very interesting: a finned exhaust header. With eight cylinders dumping into one tube, every bit of cooling counts
  • Elegant yet relatively primitive steering box. Note the cotter pins holding the nuts in place. The fancier the Bugatti, the more cotter pins you'll find.
  • Part of the frame, and part of the exceedingly pretty intake manifold

  • Leaf springs, dampers and locating arms
  • Looks comfy
  • Four speed manual is a step up from the Type 57 three speed gear box
  • Check out that steam punk rear end! This might be the world's best looking pumpkin. Also, as is the Bugatti way, notice how there's a bout twenty bolts holding the rear axle in place -- per side
  • New old stock Jaeger gauges
  • Winning Art Center clay model of the Bugatti Type 64 Coupe

Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Following up a smash hit like the Bugatti Type 57 with a worthy successor is as difficult as creating part two of the Godfather. It can be accomplished, but it sure ain't easy. Bugatti built more than 700 Type 57s between 1934 and 1939 and several of them (the Atlantic and Atalante, specifically) are among the most desirable and valuable cars ever built. Despite that, by 1939 the Type 57 was getting a little long in the tooth. A successor was needed, and the task fell into the more than capable hands of Jean Bugatti, Etorre Bugatti's eldest and without question most talented son.

Jean's planned sequel was the Type 64. Slightly wider than the Type 57 though featuring the same 130-inch length, the broader chassis was also stronger and lighter than what underpinned the Type 57. The Type 64 came with a larger 4.5-liter DOHC straight-eight good for 170 horsepower and a 120 mph top speed, solid numbers for the day. Plus, there would have no doubt been a supercharged version called the Type 64C.



The sole factory Type 64 is fitted with handsome, albeit somewhat staid bodywork – when compared to an Atlantic – reminiscent of the Type 57 Ventoux. But we're fairly certain that even sportier coachwork would have resulted in a true classic, maybe even rivalling some of the fancier Type 57s. Sadly, the Type 64 never got the chance to succeed. Jean Bugatti was killed in 1939 while swerving his Le Mans winning Type 57S "surbaissé" (aka Tank Car) to avoid a drunken bicyclist and crashing. Then World War II happened.

The Mullin Automotive Museum in conjunction with Art Center and Stuart Reed Design will be building chassis 64002 a new body. Based heavily on Jean Bugatti's sketches and notes, eight different student submissions were presented before Mullin and Stuart Reed selected a winning design and finalized it. Based on nothing more than a clay model and a couple wall-sized renderings hanging next to the bare chassis, we think the proposed design is fantastic. Retro, deco, very French yet somehow very modern despite the oh-so-classic proportions (giant hood, short, tapering deck) Oh, and it's a gullwing.

But here's the thing, the new designed-in-2010 body is a gullwing not because gullwinged cars are trendy (AMG SLS anyone?), or even a particularly good idea (short people can't shut the doors, don't flip over). No, the new Type 64 body has gullwings because that's what Jean Bugatti intended for a future variant of the Type 64.



For you non-gullwing buffs out there, the original gullwinged car – the 1952 race car Mercedes-Benz 300 SL – got its funny doors because of a loophole in some racing rules. Mercedes racing chief Alfred Neubauer famously declared, "Nowhere is it written that a door can only open sideways." See, the 300 SL was a tubular space frame design, and cutting through said tubes to allow for more normal, "sideways" opening doors would have greatly reduced the car's rigidity. Because the 300 SL had to have doors, it got gullwings. Yet fully 13 years before Neubauer's declaration, Jean Bugatti was dreaming about top-hinged doors.

The question then is should they be doing this? Should Mullin, Stuart Reed and Art Center be building a partially legit but in some ways inauthentic body for the Type 64 chassis? Be sure to consider this: When Fritz Schlumpf's private stash of insanely exotic cars was discovered in the 1970s, one of the most mesmerizing finds was the "Seventh of Six" Bugatti Type 41 Royale. The Seventh of Six was built on a Bugatti factory Royale chassis, but with leftover parts as well as some pieces manufactured by Schlumpf. However, Schlumpf's parts were fabricated using tools and dies from the Bugatti Molsheim factory. Still, to the purists, not good enough to fully be a real Royale. Guess they figure it needed Etorre's sweat. However, we'll pose another question to you: Is the car world a better place if Type 64 chassis #64002 is left bare or if it's covered in modern, winged metal inspired by a true design genius? You can make a good case either way.


  • Bugatti Type 64 chassis #64002, the second of three Type 64 chassis ever built at the factory. Not the background renderings of the proposed Art Center/Stuart Reed Coupe coachwork.
  • Good look at the balsa-wood placeholder. This gives you an idea of where the finished lines will be.
  • The Type 64 chassis is the same length as the Type 57 Chassis, though wider, lighter and stronger.
  • Note the non-horseshoe grill, similar to the Type 57SC
  • Mullin Automotive Curator Andrew Reilly showing off the proposed gullwings
  • Sporting leaf springs and dampers, the Type 64 sits on the cusp of old and new
  • About the most beautiful radiator cap you're likely to see
  • Everyone loves wire wheels with knock off hubs.
  • The straight-eight, DOHC 4.4-liter V8 produced 170 horsepower in 1939
  • An exceedingly beautiful fuel rail
  • Very interesting: a finned exhaust header. With eight cylinders dumping into one tube, every bit of cooling counts
  • Elegant yet relatively primitive steering box. Note the cotter pins holding the nuts in place. The fancier the Bugatti, the more cotter pins you'll find.
  • Part of the frame, and part of the exceedingly pretty intake manifold

  • Leaf springs, dampers and locating arms
  • Looks comfy
  • Four speed manual is a step up from the Type 57 three speed gear box
  • Check out that steam punk rear end! This might be the world's best looking pumpkin. Also, as is the Bugatti way, notice how there's a bout twenty bolts holding the rear axle in place -- per side
  • New old stock Jaeger gauges
  • Winning Art Center clay model of the Bugatti Type 64 Coupe

Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I say go for it. Who cares what the purist think, they don't own the car. yes I am a hot rodder at heart.
      • 5 Years Ago
      im sorry, but this is one car that i feel shouldn't be molested even if it is near true to the original designs.
      This chassis and car is an Icon for what didn't happen:its construction, and it should be left that way, if they want to build the car as they see fit why don't they do it to a non original chassis so as to preserve this ones history, because in the end the Type 64 coupe is exactly that, the type of car history will remember for what DIDN'T happen.
      pterrydactile
      • 5 Years Ago
      Trent said it best, when you have the money you make the rules.

      As for the critics, lets see photos of the cars YOU have designed or built before you start ripping other people's work.

      Sad that Art Center graduate John Caswell who works for Stuart Reed is the individual responsible for designing 90% of this car's body shape (that never existed previously..just a chassis with no body) and also built the clay, yet his name is nowhere to be found. in the display in the Mullin Museum nor on Stuart Reed's website.

      Reminds me of another guy you never heard of, Vince Gardner. He was the clay modeler for Gordon Buehrig at Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg in the mid 30's. Essentially he designed the 810/812 Cord and the second generation Auburn Boattail (1935-'36), two of perhaps a dozen of the best designed cars in history, but never got any credit for his incredible artistic work. Buehrig got ALL the credit. Vince later committed suicide. I hope Caswell has a better fate.

      Word is that several aluminum panel beater shops in CA are being considered to build the body which will be displayed next to the aluminum chassis in the museum, not put on the chassis. Hey it's a musem, right, and like Trent said, he who pays the bills calls the shots. From the looks of it, this new museum blows the Neathercutt, the Blackhawk and the Schlump off the map. Can't wait to visit next month. Thank you Peter Mullin for spending your money like this so we all can enjoy 30's French Coachbuilt streamliners.

      P.S. Word also has it Peter Mullin just bought one of the two Bugatti Atlantics (not the one hit by a train that will be debuted at Pebble this Auugust) for 33 million.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No, it would not be a Bugatti coupe, nor that of a contemporary coach builder. The model is fine near the chassis display. If they insist on building the body, is should be shown separate from the chassis.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As long as they are keeping true to the technology and style of the era, and not modifying the frame, I think it is a fantastic idea. If in the future someone wants to go back to just the frame they can, or they can build a new body for it also.

      I think Jay Leno should do something along this line with his Duesenberg chassis...it doesn't harm the value, as long as the chassis remains intact.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Here's an idea: replicate the chassis, then build the body on that! Best of both worlds.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A car is unfinished until it gets its body, no matter how great the temporal gulf since it was conceived. So what if the car will never command the same price as an original-era Bugatti? People who only worry about cash values miss the point completely. If it will be beautiful, build it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a beauty.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I say leave it as it is, don't build a body for it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The chassis is beautiful I used t walk by it everyday on the way to the studio. I remember seeing some more impressive body designs than the one shown here but this one looks pretty nice. Its very understated but dignified. I wonder if they have an interior yet? They definitely have the right people involve in the project, Stewart always does amazing work.
      • 5 Years Ago
      THAT'S IT!!!

      Next weekend I'm going!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I need to get down there too! Seems like an awesome museum that is attempting to bridge the gap between arts and cars and doing a damn good job of it so far.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They really need to take out the modern "Duralast" battery....
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