Monterey 2009: Medium rare or rare? Custom coachwork Bugatti Type 57s

Custom coachwork Bugatti Type 57s at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours - Click above for a high-res image gallery

At the 59th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Bugatti was allotted two classes: 100 Years of Style and Speed, and a second class devoted solely to the Type 57. Check that, a second class devoted to Type 57 models with special coachwork. As if any Bugatti Type 57 wasn't special enough, back in the day, customers could order an off-the-rack Type 57, or they could opt for a custom coachwork job arranged directly through Bugatti. They offered six different body styles: The Stelvio, Aravis, Galibier, Ventoux, Atalante and Atlantic.

Those bodies rode on standard chassis or lowered ones labeled with an "S." Customers also had the choice of either the standard naturally aspirated 8-cylinder engine or a supercharged version putting out 210 hp. Supercharged, lowered vehicles were dubbed the 57SC and those were and are the most desirable setup no matter what coachwork it wears. The four 57SC Atlantics built demand the most money, though.

Think of it like the current situation with the Veyron. You can order a "regular" Veyron 16.4, or you could get one of approximately one dozen special editions instead. After all, wouldn't you want to have a one-of-ten or one-of-one edition instead of a lousy one-of-fifty model? The difference in the Type 57 days was that the bodies completely changed from model to model, whereas the special editions today tend to revolve around paint schemes. It's a lot more like taking an Enzo to Pininfarina and turning it into a Ferrari P4/5, or taking a ZR1 Corvette to Bertone and driving off in a Mantide.

At Pebble, we were treated to a selection of nine Type 57 Bugattis ranging in year from 1935-1939. There was a bare chassis, a Bertelli of Feltham Cabriolet, Two-Light Ventoux Coupe (l), Graber Cabriolet, Paul Nee Pillarless Coupe, 57SC Atalante Coupe, Albert D'Ieteren Cabriolet, 57C Aravis, and a 57C Letourneur et Marchand Cabriolet (r). That Atalante took a well-deserved trophy for best in class. Be sure to check out our gallery to see these amazing Bugattis for yourself.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

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