1939 Bugatti Type 57C Voll & Ruhrbeck Cabriolet

Above Images ©IMAGE CREDITS - Supercars.net @ 2006 Pebble Beach Concours

Despite growing tensions that were just about to ignite France and Germany into war, Bugatti chassis number 57819 was sent from Molshiem to Dusseldorf. It was first delivered to a Mr. Noll in 1939 and was almost immediately sent to Voll & Ruhrbeck in Berlin. They fabricated a sleek roadster body and interior that was one of the most dramatic ever fitted to a Bugatti.

It's this type of car that Jean Bugatti had in mind when he first envisioned the Type 57 project. He wanted to focus on a passenger car which would compete with the 1930s custom coachwork Delahayes and Delages. It was large enough to support a range of bodies such as the dramatic two seat roadster featured here.

When completed, the German press described this Bugatti as 'a Dream of Light Metal'. Its long teardrop shape was reminiscent of the 1930s streamlined era that was mostly dictated by art and intuition instead of actual aerodynamics. At the front, Voll & Ruhrbeck installed a unique cascading grill that broke up the tall Bugatti radiator. The theme of flowing shapes was extended to the massive pontoon fenders and converging tail. Ornamentation is limited to a single accent dash that flanks the sides and a faux-split front bumper.

The huge design benefited from the power of a roots-supercharged engine that produced close to 220 bhp. Its design was quite remarkable, having twin overhead camshafts, 90 degree inclined valves and central spark plugs.

Since this model was also one of the last produced before the war, it featured a more forgiving suspension with Alliquant shock absorbers, hydraulic brakes, and a rubber mounted engine.

The first owner of the chassis 57819 is unknown, but it spent its early days around Berlin. It was supposedly gifted to Norwegian Olympic ice skating champion, Sonja Heine who hid it away before war broke out. After the war, it was confiscated by Mr. Tadeusz Tabincki, Polish Minister of Transport to include in his collection of other incredible German cars. It remained there with registration KP-33-33 until 1960 when it was discreetly sold and later bodied with a replica Bugatti Atllantic body. Not until 2002 were the original body and chassis once again married by the request of James Patterson of the Patterson Collection.

Both pieces were then sent to RM Restorations in Canada and they worked with a chassis that had all its original components. The body was remarkable as well, having spent 40 years in dry storage. The body's wooden frame was replaced in many areas while the outlining sheet steel body remained as original as possible. The rest of the car was comprehensively restored.

57819 was completed in time for the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours where it was one of the final four selected to win the Best of Show. While it didnt take the cake, another RM car, the Daimler Double Six, did which make it a remarkable day out for the Canadians.


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