Bugatti Type 57: So Expensive Even a Replica Costs $1 Million

The Bugatti Type 57 radiates enough heritage and collector car status to command eye-watering sums of money. So much so, even a replica costs over $1 million...

What happens if you have a passionate appreciation for awe-inspiring automotive design, but not quite the budget to match your enthusiasm? It’s surprisingly common amongst classic enthusiasts as values of some of the most beautiful cars skyrocket out of almost everyone’s reach.

Most eventually accept that dream cars will likely remain a figment of their imagination. The hopeful stretch to a poster on the wall. Others enjoy a scale-model. A stubborn few do not accept defeat, instead reconstructing their perfect automotive in replica form. Such as this perfect Bugatti Type 57 replica headed for auction on February 8 during the Rétromobile ArtCurial sale.

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We’re sure we just heard a collective sharp intake of breath there, for the term 'replica' is a somewhat dirty word amongst classic car buffs, or indeed anywhere where the real deal is what truly excites everyone. It’s either a genuine Ming vase or it isn’t. It’s an original Van Gogh, or it’s not. It’s an authentic Bugatti 57 Atlantic, or nothing else will do.

Or will it? This particular 57 Atlantic replica, with an estimate of between €800, 000 - €1, 200, 000 ($914,724 - $1,372,086), strongly suggests there is change a foot.

Going to auction with Artcurial Motorcars at Rétromobile 2019 on February 8th, this 1936 Atlantic replica joins one of the most prestigious annual auctions within Europe.

The Atlantic edition was one of four bodies designed by Jean Bugatti (son of automobile manufacturer Ettore Bugatti) for the Type 57. Based on the Aerolithe concept, the Atlantic has stunned onlookers ever since it was first seen in 1936. With dramatic curves and fluid coupe lines, the Bugatti 57 Atlantic is a dazzling embodiment of art deco.

Propelled by a supercharged 3,257cc inline-8 engine, an Atlantic can do over 120 mph. Anyone nearby would be treated to a sensuous engine note that comes from no fewer than six chrome exhaust pipes, all lined up at the rear like a panpipe.

Constructed from a light, but flammable, magnesium alloy called Elektron, the body panels came together in a pronounced seam, which ran from the front to back, while external rivets married the bodywork together.

Unfortunately, only two of the four original 57 Atlantics survive. One belongs to American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, while the other resides within California’s Mullin Automotive Museum. In 2010, Ralph Lauren paid $40 million for his Atlantic – a case of paying a steep price for ultimate exclusivity. You can see why a replica suddenly becomes tempting…

First registered in 1954, this Atlantic tribute is the collaboration between its owner and Danish engineer Erik Koux, who joined forces in 1989 to build this car based on a 57 654 version.

Sitting upon a 57S chassis, this Atlantic uses camshafts from a 57 654, while the engine and transmission assembly has received a complete restoration courtesy of world-renowned specialist Laurent Rondoni of Ventoux Moteurs. Afterwards, aluminium bodywork was added by Ebenisterie G.Clavel, before paint and polish added the final glamorous touches.

Registered for the road in 1996, this labor of love comes with comprehensive paperwork that documents the project in full. Now all this gorgeous 57 Atlantic needs is someone who can see beyond the word replica and enjoy the legend this Bugatti represents but in real-life detail.

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