Auctions and Brokerage
Leon Tiberghien, Tourcoing, France (acquired new in 1936)Paul Haeffele, Molsheim, France (acquired by 1949)Fritz Schlumpf, Haut-Rhin, France (acquired in 1961)Uwe Hucke, Shipston-on-Stour, England (acquired from Musée Nationalde l’Automobile, circa mid-1990s)Guy Huet, La Rippe, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 2003)Gregory Manocherian, Pound Ridge, New York (acquired from the above in 2014)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
The Bugatti Type 57 was introduced at the Paris motor show in October 1933. Fitted with a newly engineered, jewel-like straight-eight DOHC engine, Bugatti’s powerplant design would endure throughout the Type 57 production with few modifications. This all-new model was capable of maintaining a 60-mph average on the often mediocre roads of the period, and Jean Bugatti later boasted that he had completed a 270-mile trip from Molsheim to Paris in less than 3 1/2 hours. Approximately 700 Type 57s were made from 1934 to 1939, when production ceased at the outbreak of WWII. But in the years before the war, well-heeled enthusiasts and drivers flocked to buy this paragon of fast road cars, enticed by its sharp handling, powerful and smooth engine, and impeccable road manners.
The engine, itself a thing of beauty, is an iconic mechanical sculpture today. Camboxes, which were hand-scraped in a bright-cut pattern by factory artisans, concealed the dual overhead camshafts driven by helical-tooth gears at the rear of the block. The remarkable result was more than the sum of its parts: eight decades later, the Bugatti Type 57 ranks as one of the most significant automobiles of all time.
According to handwritten factory records, this Bugatti Type 57, no. 57386, bodied as a Galibier Berline, was delivered new to Leon Tiberghien in the north of France, near the Belgian border, in 1936. The car was next traced in 1949, when it was traded back to the factory by Paul Haeffele of Molsheim. Then, in 1961, it was acquired as a bare chassis by prolific Bugatti collector Fritz Schlumpf and was kept in the Malmerspach reserve collection for several decades.
In early 1964, not long after his acquisition of 57386, Mr. Schlumpf acquired some 30 Bugattis from Illinois collector John Shakespeare in what has been called “the used car deal of the century.” Among the cache was a Bugatti Atalante that had been damaged in a road accident. This Atalante, 57686, had a remarkably intact body (no. 28), which was found to be in particularly good condition – requiring essentially only new front fenders and a windshield – according to the Shakespeare sale paperwork. The car (57686) was listed as 57618, due to an identity and chassis plate switch that had taken place at the factory after September 1939; this discrepancy was not discovered and explained until decades later, according to the accompanying history report. The Atalante is clearly visible in the amazing period photos of Shakespeare’s Bugattis on open railcars, embarking on their journey to France. Once in the care of Mr. Schlumpf’s collection, the Atalante body was removed from 57686 and spent many years in storage alongside the 57386 chassis. It is interesting to note that, when new, Atalante 57686 was a supercharged car and is believed to have been displayed at the Berlin motor show in March 1938.
In the 1990s, famed Bugatti enthusiast and authority Uwe Hucke acquired the 57386 chassis and the Atalante body from the Schlumpf reserve collection which was then held by the Musée National de l’Automobile in Mulhouse, France, in exchange for a large amount of unique Bugatti factory documentation that Mr. Hucke had amassed during a lifetime of collecting. Mr. Hucke mounted the aluminum Atalante coachwork and steel front fenders to the 57386 chassis. When inspected by Bugatti historians David Sewell and Mark Morris, the chassis was reported to retain its original engine no. 281, its original gearbox, differential, front and rear axles, as well as its original chassis and patent plates. Initially finished in dark red, Mr. Hucke sold the 57386 Atalante to Guy Huet of Switzerland in 2003. Under Mr. Huet’s ownership, the Bugatti was refinished in its current black and cream color scheme.
In 2014, 57386 joined the significant East Coast collection of Greg Manocherian, who retained respected Bugatti restorer Scott Sargent of Sargent Metal Works of Bradford, Vermont, to refine and upgrade the Atalante. This work included an engine rebuild by the noted Sam Jepson, as well as the addition of a Brineton Engineering supercharger and intake, while the instrument panel was likewise brought to 57C specifications. The brakes and shock absorbers were converted to hydraulic units, correct for a Type 57C. Fresh paint was expertly applied, and the Atalante was treated to an entirely re-trimmed interior, including a matching fitted luggage set behind the seats. At the conclusion of the work, the Bugatti was road-tested by Mr. Sargent, who described it as extremely fast, with especially impressive acceleration through the lower gears, and as one of the more sprightly and engaging Type 57s that he had ever driven. In all, the work totaled some $350,000. At the conclusion of the work, 57386 was acquired by a European collector.
This Type 57 presents a rare opportunity to acquire an iconic Bugatti with substantially original and matching mechanical components, as confirmed by marque experts Mark Morris, David Sewell, and Pierre-Yves Laugier. The historians’ report, along with copies of relevant factory records are included with the sale and available for review. The factory Atalante body of 57386, one of just six known examples built in aluminum, and its association with legendary Bugatti figures, such as Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Schlumpf, and Mr. Hucke, elevate it all the more.