1937 Bugatti Type 57 S Cabriolet

The Type 57S (S for sport) Bugatti together with the preceding Type 55 model are the two ultimate and most sought after sporting Bugattis of the ’30s, with only about forty examples of each being built. While the Type 55 was closely related to the Type 51 GP with roller-bearing crankshaft and supercharger, the Type 57S derived from the proven Type 57 touring model and proved to be a far more civilized, yet equally high-performance, road-going sports car.
The Type 57S was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1936, featuring a shorter chassis with the rear axle passing through the chassis rails for a lower stance, a distinctive V-shaped radiator and a 180 hp dry sump version of the Type 57’s 3.3-liter straight-eight dual overhead camshaft engine. The popular press of the day exclaimed the virtues of the superb road-holding and powerful brakes with 110+ mph performance.
With a price almost twice that of the standard model, sales were inevitably modest and production continued only until early 1938 by which time just forty-two examples of both Type 57S and 57SC (supercharged, 200+ hp) had been produced.
This example, chassis number 57482, fitted with engine number 13S, was invoiced by the factory on May 14, 1937. Nothing further is known of its history until after WWII. By 1955, it had arrived in the US where it was owned by Charles Chayne, the Engineering Vice President of General Motors, also at one time, the owner of the Bugatti Royale chassis 41121 (Dr. Josef Fuchs’ cabriolet by Wienberger).
Chayne had GM update and restore his classic cars and this Type 57S was the recipient of a prototype of the aluminum “B-O-P” 215 ci engine ultimately to power the compact Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile F85 and Pontiac LeMans before being licensed to British Leyland where they still make Range Rovers today. GM’s shop’s work is of the highest standard and includes a three-speed Hydramatic transmission with its control cleverly incorporated into the original Bugatti ignition advance lever on the dash, A/C, power steering, mono-leaf springs and hydraulic brakes.
The original engine number 13S now survives in the South of France in a Bugatti replica framed Type 57S.
Overton A. (“Bunny”) Phillips acquired 57482 in 1975 as a present for his wife who used it sparingly until her death in 1979 and essentially has been unused since.
This spectacular 57S drophead must rank as one of the finest yet to be restored pre-war sports cars. It is presented here with spare 57/57SC engine parts including an upper SC crankcase (numbered 57561) and an SC blower. It is one of only a handful of genuine open 57S and SC cars in existence today.