Lot 22

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis 'Special Cabriolet'

Coachwork by Gangloff

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SOLD $6,605,000


$2,500,000 - $3,500,000| Without Reserve





Car Highlights

One of Only Four Gangloff-Bodied Aravis Special Cabriolets Built; Just Two on the Supercharged Type 57C Chassis

Sold New to Bugatti Works Driver Maurice Trintignant and Raced at the 1939 Grand Prix du Comminges

Exquisite Restoration Overseen by Marque Specialist Sargent Metal Works; Awarded First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®

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Introduced in 1934, the Type 57 is widely regarded as a masterpiece by the hand of Jean Bugatti. The successor to the popular Type 49, the new Bugatti was powered by a jewel-like 3.3-liter twin-cam, straight-eight engine and represented the ultimate in automotive design. Like all Bugattis that preceded it, the Type 57 handled with finesse and possessed a delicate feel characteristic of these magnificent automobiles. Graceful, exquisitely made, and incredibly exclusive, the Type 57 was instantly recognizable as a conveyance of the highest quality and performance.

Bugatti continually refined the Type 57 throughout its production run resulting in three distinct series of chassis. The second- and third-series chassis benefit from a strengthened rear axle, cross-braced frame, rubber engine mounts, and upgraded brakes, among other improvements.

To further enhance performance, Bugatti introduced a supercharged version in 1937: the Type 57C, the “C” standing for compresseur. Equipped with a Roots-type blower, magneto ignition, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, additional instrumentation, and other subtle upgrades, the 160 hp Type 57C was among the finest high-performance automobiles built prior to WWII, boasting a top speed well in excess of 100 mph, with commensurate roadholding and braking. Of the approximately 710 Type 57s produced, just 96 left the factory in supercharged 57C form.

In typical Bugatti practice, the Type 57 was sold either as a bare chassis, ready for outside coachwork, or supplied with one of five attractive catalogued body styles: Ventoux, Galibier, Stelvio, Atalante, and Aravis. Of these, the Aravis, a 2/3-seat “special cabriolet” named after a famous mountain pass in the French alps, is arguably the most beautiful of these Type 57 body styles and certainly the most exclusive.

Only two coachbuilders, Gangloff and Letourneur et Marchand, produced Aravis bodies, which were characterized by their graceful lines, ideal proportions, voluminous pontoon-style fenders, and high levels of individual detailing. In total, Gangloff produced just four examples of the Aravis, while Letourner et Marchand produced seven. Most were built on the standard Type 57 platform; however, each coachbuilder produced two examples on the exotic factory-supercharged Type 57C chassis.

The Gangloff-bodied Aravis presented here, chassis 57768, is one of these rare, supercharged examples. Given its sensational history and award-winning restoration, it is perhaps the finest surviving example of this exclusive breed.

The history of this Type 57C Aravis can be traced back to November 1938, when Bugatti completed the rolling chassis of 57768, fitted with engine no. 75C. The Type 57C was ordered new by Granat & Fils., Bugatti’s agent in Avignon, on behalf of its first owner – legendary French racing driver Maurice Trintignant.

Born in 1917, Tritignant began his racing career in 1938 and went on to have one of the longest careers in the golden age of Formula One, competing at the highest level of motor sports from 1950 to 1964. During his remarkable career, Trintignant served as a works driver for teams including Bugatti, Ferrari, Vanwall, and Aston Martin, and captured wins in a variety of major events, from the Monaco Grand Prix to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

For his personal transport, Trintignant commissioned this spectacular Type 57C Aravis, known by Gangloff body no. 262. According to the American Bugatti Register and Data Book, this Aravis was built to a design drawn by Lucien Schlatter and produced by or under the supervision of Gangloff employee Fantlo.

Completed in early 1939, the Aravis was finished in ivory with dark blue fenders and delivered to Trintignant, who registered it as “5451-ZA4.” Although the Bugatti was primarily intended as a high-performance road car, Trintignant entered it in the Grand Prix du Comminges on August 6, 1939. Wearing no. 28, Trintignant placed 11th overall in a competitive race that saw René Le Bègue’s Talbot-Lago MD 90 and Jean-Pierre Wimille’s Bugatti Type 59 Sports finish 1st and 2nd overall.

Trintignant retained his Aravis until 1947, when it was sold to Jacques Roblin. From there, ownership passed to a Parisian named M. Carette and then Garage Proust. In 1953, while under their ownership, the Bugatti was struck in the rear driver’s side fender by a Peugeot 203. It was promptly repaired and sold to a M. Chevalier.

The Aravis’s next owner, Madeline Mitton, removed the supercharger and then sold 57768, in October 1964, to Rudi van Daalen Wetters of Burbank, California. A devoted Bugattiste, Mr. Van Daalen Wetters kept the Aravis as the star of his small private collection and it remained in his ownership until his death in 1999. In 2002, the Mullin Collection acquired the Aravis from the Van Daalen Wetters family.

Eager to return this significant Bugatti to its original splendor, the Mullin Collection eventually commissioned renowned marque specialist Scott Sargent of Sargent Metal Works in Vermont to oversee a complete, concours-quality restoration. Additionally, Peter and Merle Mullin consulted with the Bugatti’s first owner, Maurice Trintignant, who took several trips to California during the restoration process to ensure that the car would be finished in its original colors and to confirm specific details of the original build.

Between 2002 and 2005, every aspect of the Bugatti was restored to the highest standards, including a complete engine rebuild overseen by Leydon Restorations of Pennsylvania. This process included sourcing a proper reproduction supercharger and intake manifold from English Bugatti specialist Brineton Engineering, thereby returning 57768 to its original mechanical specification.

Upon its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® in August 2005, the Aravis was awarded First in Class, a testament to the quality of the restoration as well as the car’s historical significance and unmatched style. Since then, the Mullin Collection has shown the Aravis at several leading events, including the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and loaned it to the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2016 for an exhibit called “Rolling Sculpture.”

Among the finest jewels of the Mullin Collection, 57768 remains in exquisite, concours-quality condition and retains its matching-numbers engine (no. 75C), original Gangloff Aravis coachwork, and important Type 57C-specific components.

In the late 1930s as today, there is little that compares, both in terms of performance and style, to a Bugatti. As an original Type 57C, possessing its matching-numbers engine and exclusive Aravis bodywork, this is an exceptionally rare and immensely desirable example of what is undisputedly one of the greatest prewar automobiles.

With its ideal specification, well-documented provenance, period competition history, and prize-winning expert restoration, 57768 presents an opportunity to acquire what is very likely the finest example of the legendary Type 57 Aravis – a masterpiece that represents the embodiment of the Bugatti marque, Le Pur-Sang des Automobiles.

*Please note that all of the Lots in this Auction have been in long-term static storage at the Mullin Automotive Museum and may not be currently operational. They will require mechanical attention and in some cases significant restoration prior to any road use.


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