Bugatti 57SC Atlantic (1938) "The Lord Rothschild"
- Scale guide
Chassis No. 57374
One of the most iconic Bugatti cars from the original Bugatti era, the Type 57SC Atlantic featured flowing coupé lines with a pronounced dorsal seam running from the front to the back end of the vehicle. The 1935 Aérolithe concept, on which the 57SC was based, used Elektron composite for its body panels. This meant the engineers needed to rivet the panels together externally as, although a durable and lightweight material, the alloy was extremely flammable when exposed to high temperatures. The production run of 57SC Atlantics possessed plain aluminium bodies though the dorsal seams were retained for style.
The Atlantic name was termed in honour of Jean Bugatti’s pilot friend, Jean Mermoz, who never returned from a South Atlantic aviation journey. The ‘S’ stood for ‘Surbaissé’ (‘Lowered’), which was a major undertaking in itself, and the ‘C’ for ‘Compresseur’, a supercharger that Bugatti introduced in response to customers seeking more horsepower. The iconic long bonnet hid a 197 horsepower 3.3 litre inline-8, which allowed the coupe to clock a top speed in excess of 125 mph.
Only four Type 57SCs were ever made, three of which were sold to customers. The first was sold to British banker Victor Rothschild, a second to Parisian businessman Jacques Holzschuh and a third car was sold to R.B. Pope of Britain. The remaining car was used by Jean Bugatti himself but there is no record of the car after 1938. Its whereabouts remain a mystery. Tragically, Holzschuh’s Atlantic was involved in a fatal accident which completely destroyed the car. Decades later, the car underwent a painstaking restoration though the engine was unsalvageable.
This perfect 1:8 scale recreation of the Bugatti 57SC Atlantic is modelled on chassis 57374 as it was originally delivered to Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild, in 1936. Painted a gray-metallic blue, No. 57374 was built without the "C" specification and it is believed that it had been equipped with various components from the Aérolithe prototype before the car was brought back to Molsheim in order to have the "C" specification fitted, Lord Rothschild’s request. He would continue to use the car until 1941 when he abandoned it in the middle of a field after a malfunctioning supercharger caused the engine to explode. A mechanic bought 57374 and repaired it, before selling it to a wealthy doctor in 1945. This doctor brought the 57SC to the US and sold it to Bugatti enthusiast Mike Oliver, who amongst other changes to adapt the Atlantic to US regulations, painted it a dark red. The car returned to Molshiem in 1953 to have the supercharger refitted. The car changed hands in 1971 for a total of $59k to collector Peter Williamson, who actively used the car for the next 32 years. He returned it to its original state and exhibited at the 2003 edition of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where it won the "Best of Show" award. No. 57374 remained in the Williamson family's possession until 2010 when it was sold for no less than $30 million to collector Peter Mullin who now exhibits it in his French car masterpiece collection at the Mullin Automotive Museum located in Oxnard, CA.
R.B. Pope’s model is now owned by Ralph Lauren, who was kind enough to let us use our supremely accurate digital scanning on his original car, allowing us, with the added assistance of Bugatti's automotive historian Julius Kruta, to perfectly recreate every detail at scale. This fine scale model has been handcrafted and finished in our workshops with the co-operation and assistance of the manufacturer regarding original finishes, materials, archive imagery and drawings. Furthermore, the prototype model has undergone detailed scrutiny by the manufacturer’s engineering and design teams to ensure complete accuracy of representation.
The Bugatti 57SC Atlantic 'The Lord Rothschild' is limited to only 99 pieces.
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