The Bugatti 57SC has long been coveted by automotive historians and enthusiasts as one of the ultimate expressions of pre-war automotive design and engineering, with a precious few chassis originally constructed and each example appreciated as exceptional and bespoke. Some versions of the 57SC have achieved stratospheric desirability and value due to demand for a Bugatti that exemplifies the best in performance, styling and recognition for the period it represents. Adding to the Bugatti legend is an exceptional and exciting competition history that includes two overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Introduced at the Paris Auto Salon in October of 1936, it was the second-series of Bugatti’s esteemed Type 57. The brainchild of Ettore Bugatti’s son Jean, the new Type 57 featured a powerful 3.3-liter, dual overhead-cam, eight-cylinder engine and a chassis derived from years of successful racing. Additionally, Bugatti presented two other interesting versions of the Type 57: the supercharged 57C (C for compressor) and the sporting 57S.
The Type 57S was constructed on its own uniquely designed chassis that was both shorter and lower (the S is for surbaisse, the French word for “lowered”). In order to achieve a lower stance, the front axle was articulated in halves, and the rear axle passed through the frame as opposed to under it. A magneto-driven ignition system was mated to the specially-tuned engine that had a higher compression ratio of 8.5:1 that was located low in the frame. A dry sump oiling system was designed to accommodate for the engine’s lower center of gravity to achieve acceptable road clearance. The radiator was mounted low as well, with Bugatti’s famous rounded radiator shell, but now with a more aerodynamic V-shaped grill.