Part of the Bugatti Type 57 launch range the ‘Galibier’ was a four-door, four-seater touring saloon. Named after a peak in the French Alps and notable for its pillarless doors, the model was otherwise a somewhat conservative design with formal lines and an upright stance. However, customers wishing for a sportier variation on the Galibier theme could always have their Type 57 chassis clothed by an outside coachbuilder.
This T57 by Swiss coachbuilder Graber has been in the current family ownership since 1962, but is now to be auctioned by H&H Classic Auctions next June.
Click 'Read more' to read H&H's lot description.
Introduced at the October 1933 Paris Salon, the Bugatti Type 57 was designed by Noel Domboy, Antonio Pichetto and Jean Bugatti. Developed alongside the fabulous Type 59 Grand Prix racer (the two cars sharing the same basic engine architecture), it nevertheless contrived to be smoother, quieter and more refined than any previous Molsheim product - save perhaps the mighty Type 41 Royale.
Based around a notably rigid ladder-frame chassis equipped with all-round leaf-sprung suspension and four-wheel drum brakes, the Type 57 was propelled by a 3.3 litre DOHC straight-eight allied to four-speed manual transmission. Developing as much power as its force-fed Type 55 Super Sports sibling (135bhp), the newcomer was reputedly capable of 95mph and sportscar-like acceleration. Although, the majority of Type 57s were bodied in-house or by Gangloff's nearby Colmar subsidiary, a select number of chassis were entrusted to other coachuilders.
Invoiced to Bugatti's Swiss agency, Bucar SA, on September 19th 1936, chassis 57443 was subsequently dispatched to Carrosserie Graber. Believed but not warranted to be a one-off commissioned by its architect first owner, the resultant Sports Saloon offered the same internal accommodation as a factory-bodied 'Galibier' but with far more flamboyant packaging. Although, a spacious four-seater, the Type 57's coupe-like lines are accentuated by the absence of exterior rear door handles or hinges. While, other notable styling features include the sloping tail (incorporating a partially 'sunken' spare wheel) and moulded swage line that begins at the radiator's shoulders, runs along the bonnet sides and then flows down towards the rear wings taking the window ledges with it.
The last of a long line of Bugattis to have belonged to the vendor's family, chassis 57443 was purchased from A. van Ramshorst's renowned 'NV Albatros' dealership in November 1962. Resident in Sweden before then, the past forty-six years have seen it used for a variety of touring duties including attending a wedding at Molsheim.
Pleasingly retaining its original leather upholstery, the Type 57 is in unrestored but running order (though, the engine was treated to an extensive overhaul by F.A. Keizer of Doetinchem in 1991). A familiar sight in Dutch Bugatti circles and well known to the late Hugh Conway with whom the vendor's family were good friends, this 'timewarp' Graber Sports Saloon will be taking pride of place on our stand at the Bugatti Owners Club's forthcoming May 24th-25th La Vie en Bleu weekend.