Gorgeous classic Bugatti a tiny jewel in 1:43 scale …
Oh, be still my swoopy car design-loving heart. Autoart has created a 1:43 gem of a classic Bugatti that may be the most beautiful car ever.
That may sound overhyped, but it is not. The 1938 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic is drop-dead gorgeous now, just as it was in the midst of car designers’ art deco styling period. It’s rounded, slinky, sexy and as beautiful as any machine ever created by man, or woman!
You can call it teardrop shaped, ellipsoidal or just curvy as all get-out, but the key word is beautiful.
Now Autoart, which mostly makes fantastic 1:18 scale die-cast car models, downsizes in a most impressive way.
The model has opening doors, hood and trunk/tire cover.
But first, consider this gorgeous French blue-bathed car’s history.
Some believe the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic is the most valuable car in the world. One of the two remaining models sold for $36 million a few years ago, but a Ferrari has sold for more. Yet fashion designer Ralph Lauren bought a black one in 1988 and his is said to be more original than that recent Bugatti sale, so is valued at $40 million plus. What’s a few million bucks among friends?
Only three or four (history isn’t clear) of this particular Type 57 were made, so that adds to its rarity, yet 710 Type 57s were made from 1934 through 1940 and they were fast, for the time. A Type 57 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937 and 1939. The 57s featured 3.3-liter twin-cam straight-8 engines and the SC added a Roots supercharger (compresseur), hence the C designation after the S. It is said to deliver 210 horsepower and have a top speed of 130 mph.
The S? That stood for surbaisse, the French word for underslung, which means the SC was lowered from the original Type 57s, the rear axle running through the frame, not below it. The front suspension was nearly independent and the engine featured a dry sump system. In total, the SC weighed just more than 2,000 lbs.
Jean Bugatti, the son of founder Ettore, designed the Atlantic and ironically died driving the 1939 Le Mans winning Type 57 shortly after the race, dodging a reportedly drunken bicyclist that caused his fatal accident. Jean was 30.
Lending the Atlantic its initial fame was the swoopy design and ellipsoidal windows, which artistic folks feel perfectly reflects the Art Deco and Art Moderne movements of that time.
Also noteworthy is the seam that runs down the middle of the car, looking a bit like a fin. It was practical initially as the original’s body was made of Elektron, a magnesium alloy that could not be welded, it would only burn. So round rivets were used to bolt the car together and although the cars that followed featured aluminum bodies, the Bugatti team decided it liked the seam, so kept it.
There’s no denying the unique design and sensuous curves make the Type 57SC a looker.
As beautiful as Autoart’s 1:18 scale models are, this 1:43 Bugatti is, well a jeweler’s work of art. Think high-end Swiss watch.
Because the size is petite, the model is just a touch under 4 inches long, all the parts must be small and precise. They are.
The rounded suicide doors’ chrome hinges are perfect and the doors easily flip back to expose the tan interior. Likewise the blue center hood hinge works easily to allow one, or both, sides of the hood to be raised to reveal a meticulous miniature reproduction of Bugatti’s straight-8 engine, its header, spark plug wires, horn, oil filler cap, plumbing, supercharger and fan behind the fine black mesh grille work encased in the chrome grille with Bugatti logo.
The hood itself features three black mesh grilles on either side, plus a delicate-looking metal handle on each side. The hood even is sculpted with rounded front edges that fit into the grille’s top.
The chrome headlight covers, window frames, wipers, door handles, gas cap and splash guards on the front of the rear fenders are well executed and proper in scale.
One of my favorite features is that seam that joins the car’s two halves together and that also is repeated over the front and rear fenders. This is such a fine detail especially with the repetition of all the miniscule round rivets that add further style and definition to those seams. Wow!
In back the big round trunk and spare tire cover fits well into the circular opening, but also is easily removed to show the fully detailed spare tire. Below that is a chrome support and handle, plus a silver multi-pipe exhaust system, nicely reflected in the mirror base this model rests on. Tiny taillights and silver rivets along the tail’s lower edge appear to be painted on this slick blue body.
The camel tan interior is nicely detailed too for this scale and those big suicide doors open wide for a good view of the right-drive car. The steering wheel is a 4-spoke tan to reflect the wood wheel of the original, the spokes being silver.
Meanwhile, the woodgrain dash features eight round gauges, plus two large shift and brake levers in the console. Two other chrome knobs protrude from the dash’s far right and there are 3 black pedals on the floor. Autoart also places small round magnets just inside the A-pillars on the dash to help hold the big doors shut, yet opening them remains easy.
Fine detailing under the car’s nose reflects well off the base and the chassis just inside the bodywork also can be seen under the car. Some branding and labeling is engraved in the rear of the chassis. For the detail-oriented be sure to check out the blue-spoked wheels, which are metal wire spokes and look fabulous. Oh, and the front wheels are poseable.
If you prefer to own Ralph Lauren’s version, Autoart does offer an Atlantic in black, which Lauren had his painted after its restoration. The black model is slightly less expensive ($190) than the original blue. All models also are limited edition and numbered, with a certification card included.
I just can’t get over the detail here and while the size may not make this 1:43 version an immediate eye-catcher in your collection. If you put it somewhere with all its features opened, it will be a conversation starter and far less costly than buying an original.
Vital Stats: 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic
Stock No.: 50947