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1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine - Over 10,000 classic, collector and current cars and trucks at RemarkableCars.com

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine
Car was Not Sold at a high bid of $380,000

200bhp, supercharged 3.3-liter dual overhead cam inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid axle front suspension with twin transverse leaf springs, solid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, Alliquant telescopic shock absorbers, Bugatti-Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 130"

The Type 57 Bugatti, built from 1934 to 1939, was the most sophisticated and luxurious roadgoing model the celebrated French sports car company produced prior to World War II. Designed to compete with Delahaye and Delage, the Type 57's development was heavily influenced by Jean Bugatti, son of "Le Patron" Ettore Bugatti and a brilliant design talent in his own right.

It was powered by a 3.3-liter, dual overhead camshaft straight 8 and built on two different high-performance chassis, one a standard version, and a lower one called the 57S (Sport). Eschewing hydraulics, Bugatti still persisted with his own highly-sophisticated, cable-actuated mechanical brakes. Available normally aspirated at first, and later with an optional Roots-type supercharger (57C) that ran at engine speeds and developed 3-to-4-psi boost, the Type 57 benefited from the finest factory coachwork, and was popular with coachbuilders.

Offered from late 1936 until the end of 1938, Series II Type 57s had rubber-mounted (as opposed to solid-mounted) engines, a reinforced chassis, a redesigned crankcase, and the camshafts and engine timing were up-rated. As 1939 began, Type 57s were built to Series III specifications with Lockheed-Bugatti hydraulic brakes and twin master cylinders. Alliquant interdependent hydraulic shock absorbers replaced the previous Hartford friction dampers and the self-adjusting De Ram units fitted to low-chassis 57S models.

The supercharged Type 57C engine developed 200 to 220 brake horsepower in its final form, and models with lighter coachwork could top 130 miles per hour, an extraordinary road performance for that era. In the late 1930s, the noted British racing driver and land speed record-setter, Sir Malcolm Campbell, called the Type 57, "...the best all-around super-sports car available" and insisted, "it is a car in a class by itself."

This Type 57C, chassis no. 57787, was ordered by William P. Harges, a wealthy American living in England. A supercharged model, it was fitted with an elegant, one-of-a-kind custom body by British coachbuilders, James Young of Bromley, that was crafted to Rolls-Royce standards. It was delivered to Mr. Harges in March 1939 by the London Bugatti agent, Jack Barclay Ltd. This car was one of the last Bugattis to leave France before the Germans entered Paris.

A Faux Cabriolet (the roof does not fold), this Bugatti's many intriguing features include a sliding sunroof, very thin windshield pillars for better visibility and more graceful lines, landau irons, dual enclosed side mounts (one is simulated and it contains a 'hidden' toolbox), illuminated vanities and folding picnic trays for the rear passengers, and a recessed tool tray. The rear seats resemble armchairs in a posh British men's club, and the three-quarter top affords considerable privacy for rear seat occupants. The Bugatti's chromed wire wheels accent its brilliant black finish. Chassis no. 57787 was given British registration number FXC66, which corresponds with its supercharged engine number: C66, and it retains those original British plates.

Apparently Mr. Harges did not own the Type 57C for long before it caught the attention of Colonel Godfrey Giles, President of the Bugatti Owners' Club and one of the foremost Bugatti owners of his day. As a measure of his admiration for 57787, Colonel Giles convinced Mr. Harges to trade his lovely cabriolet "even across" as the British would say, for Giles' spectacular 1938 Type 57SC Corsica-bodied roadster, chassis no. 57593, (now owned by John Mozart), which he called "La Petite Suzanne."

Colonel Giles, who liked naming his Bugattis, called no. 57787 "Charmaine," and according to the American Bugatti Register, he said it was "...the most luxurious car of any make he had ever owned." But Giles, as well, did not own "Charmaine" for very long. The car's next owner, the Hon. Dorothy Paget, daughter of Lord Queenborough and Pauline Payne Whitney, was a celebrated British thoroughbred horse racing personality. Her stable won 1,532 races, and included Golden Miller, five-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup from 1932-1936. Miss Paget sponsored Bentley racing teams that competed at Le Mans, and she financed the development and competition of Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin's famed 4 1/2-liter "Blower" Bentleys.

The Bentley connection continued. Charmaine's next owner was 3-time consecutive Le Mans winner, "Blue Train" owner and former Bentley Motors owner and chairman, Woolf "Babe" Barnato. Bugatti authority, Geoffrey Battersby was the next owner, and he sold no. 57787 to a Mr. R. Newsholme, from whom it passed to British industrialist, Alan Haworth, who kept the car for thirty years on his Isle of Man estate.

Noted British collector and vintage racer, Terry Cohn bought Charmaine and kept the car in his collection, which included several significant pre-WWI Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts, and a selection of 8C Alfa Romeos. Cohn had the car fully sorted mechanically by a Bugatti specialist before bringing it to the United States fifteen years ago, where it has remained ever since.

Extensively-documented in the Bugatti Trust Archives, featured in countless Bugatti books, including 57: The Last French Bugatti by Barrie Price, and written about in the Bugatti Owners' Club publication, Bugantics, "Charmaine" has always been properly maintained, preserved and stored by a series of distinguished collectors.

This lovely car remains in exceptional condition, with its original chassis plate and all of its original components, including the supercharger, intact. The one-off James Young Faux Cabriolet coachwork exhibits fabulous patina throughout, especially with respect to its completely original interior where the tan leather remains soft and remarkably supple. In the course of this car's long known history, some exterior trim and paintwork was apparently done over, but every effort was made to keep restoration at a minimum, so the car could be shown in the preservation class at top concours events, including the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Custom-built, a supercharged Series III Type 57C with a unique and luxurious James Young Faux Cabriolet body, one of the last Bugattis built before the war, owned by a remarkable series of famous British personalities and a fabulous patina from decades of careful nurturing, the offering of this rare and lovely Bugatti represents an unusual opportunity which is unlikely to be repeated.

RM Auctions
Automobiles of Amelia Island
March 14, 2009
Website: www.rmauctions.com
Not Sold at a high bid of $380,000
Lot #256

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine Additional Pictures

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine

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1939 Bugatti Type 57C Faux Cabriolet Charmaine - Over 10,000 classic, collector and current cars and trucks at RemarkableCars.com