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Type 57 S Torpedo Competition
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  Bugatti Type 57 S Torpedo Competition      

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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1935
Numbers built:1
Introduced at:1935 Paris Auto Salon
Price new:F 112,000
Designed by:Jean Bugatti
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 24, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the 1935 Paris Auto Salon, Bugatti introduced two spectacular machines both reportedly clothed in the lightweight but volatile magnesium alloy called electron. The first was the Aerolithe Coupe built on a regular Type 57 chassis, which would go on the inspire the Atlantic introduced a year later. Also on show was a Torpedo Competition, which used the first of the lowered Type 57 S chassis. Both cars featured riveted panels with a 'spine' running down the centre, which would also become an instantly recognisable feature of the Atlantic.

It is believed that the Torpedo Competion was slated to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and reports at the time suggest it would be offered for sale for around 112,000 French Francs. With Le Mans cancelled due to strikes, the car was never raced and only used for testing, usually with designer Jean Bugatti himself behind the wheel. It was ultimately superseded by the rather ugly but highly efficient 'Tank' bodied Type 57 and set aside. Like the Aerolithe Coupe, the Competition Torpedo was most likely disassembled for parts. The electron bodies most likely disappeared during the War when the German scoured French factories for precious materials.

For many, many years, it was understood that this was the end for both electron-bodied show cars. That was until American enthusiast Jim Hull set about reconstructing the Torpedo Competition during the 2000s. He did not start from scratch as he used a chassis obtained from fellow Bugatti aficionado Uwe Hucke some 24 years earlier. He in turn had bought it along with a large pile of parts from former Bugatti factory stores manager Francois Seyfried. This was no ordinary Type 57 chassis and Seyfried was adamant it came from the original Torpedo Competition.

What sets the so called 'gondola' chassis acquired by Hull apart from later Type 57 S frame is that it has inward-curving rear rails to suit a Torpedo body. Whether the chassis supplied by Seyfried is the very same as used on the original Torpedo Competition is hard to say as by all accounts Bugatti produced two or even four gondola chassis. None of these were numbered; Bugatti had the practice of stamping chassis only after they were sold, so at least it is correct that the Hull's frame did not have any numbers on it. What is pretty certain is that no other Bugatti ever used this chassis type.

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  Article Image gallery (27) Specifications