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Bugatti Aerolithe

Discussion in 'Bugatti' started by El Wayne, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. El Wayne

    El Wayne Global Moderator
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    #1 El Wayne, Sep 6, 2009
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    Would anyone care to add to, refute or otherwise comment on any of the following?

    Chassis number: Originally 57331 (1935 Paris Salon). Switched with 57333 (black/red Atalante belonging to Jean Bugatti) when that car was sold to Mme Travers on May 14, 1936.

    Chassis type: Standard T57, shortened/modified T57 or T57S? Period drawings of the fuel tank show that it was designed to fit between two frame rails that tapered in toward the rear of the car. It appears that a "prototype" T57S chassis was used, with the rear axle passing through the frame rails but with a tapered rear.

    Color: While all photographs of the car are in black & white, it does appear to be a light silver or similar color and most people have assumed that this was the case. The car was a sensation at the time and was celebrated by the press, yet I have never seen a period reference to the color. There is a painting of the Aerolithe in light green, supposedly done by an engineer who had worked on the car originally. Also, Jean Bugatti supposedly referred to the car by the internal code name of "Crème de Menthe," suggesting that it was, in fact, green in color. Then, of course, there's the ex-Bugatti apprentice that David Grainger is said to have discovered in France. He also claims is that the car was green (and that the chassis was a standard T57).

    Current whereabouts: It seems that most people agree that the Aerolithe was dismantled. If so, what became of the chassis, engine (#226S), body and other components? There are some who claim that parts of the Aerolithe were used to build Atlantic 57374. Still, there are others who claim that two different Aerolithes exisited and that parts from the second one were used for Atlantic 57453.
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  3. of2worlds

    of2worlds F1 World Champ
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    If the original was pale green then why paint a replica built of the Aerolithe in pale blue? Do you see any merit in the replica? Or is it like Hill's 1961 formula one car that was a copy; just to show the past to a new generation?
    CH
     
  4. El Wayne

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    #3 El Wayne, Sep 6, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2009
    Ah, you refer to the German replica. Not only did the owner decide to go with a color that made little sense to anyone but himself, he also made changes to the dimensions, materials and many other items. Not so much of a true "replica" as it is an "interpretation on the original theme."

    There is another replica being built that claims to be 95% correct (including the use of magnesium body panels) and will be painted green: http://www.guildclassiccars.com/1935_Aerolithe_coupe_1109/Aerolithe.html

    The results remain to be seen.
     
  5. of2worlds

    of2worlds F1 World Champ
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    Thanks, a real page turner there but no happy ending or any ending. Well you did warn me; the last chapter or two is still pending.
    Sounds like very capable hands though for the challenges presented by such an obscure project.
    CH
     
  6. CollectorMorry

    CollectorMorry Formula 3

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  8. superleggera

    superleggera Karting

    Nov 9, 2003
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    Conjecture is that there were two (2) Aerolithe Competition Coupes built. If you do a lot of research, there are a lot of small changes differing between the two.

    One of the problems in exactly identifying these cars is they were built on a "gondola-shaped" T57S chassis and that were never given genuine chassis numbers. They leveraged existing factory works numbers and license numbers when needed. Also the two cars did not exist at the same time.

    Chassis #57331 was the first (#1) Aerolithe coupe as exhibited in Paris and London in 1935.

    The second (#2) Aerolithe coupe was chassis #57103S.

    What happened then:

    The Rothschild (currently Williamson) Atlantic is chassis #57374 and utilizes the the chassis of #57103S (#1), the engine 226S from (#2) and the coachwork of #2 (it is stamped #2) with changes for the flat bonnet (lower windscreen edge) and v-shaped radiator and body cooling vents (per request of Rothschild). Recently when #57374 was restored, the stamped numbers were authenticated and answered a few questions historians had.

    Atlantic w/chassis #57453 used the coachwork of #1 (modified bonnet, windscreen and v-shaped radiator) and had engine 2SC (it is not a 57S engine). It was kept at the factory and used for illustration in the 1937 catalog and exhibition in Nice in 1937. Later it got the chassis #57222 with license #9219NV2. Finally it was registered via the factory (June 1938) with 1521NV4 in the name of Ettore Bugatti for chassis #57454 (which was used first on one of the Le Mans tank cars!). There are pictures of this car with all the different registration numbers and it existed up to WWII. Currently "lost". Although items might have ended up in a Type 64 later. (see "The Bugatti Type 57S" book by Simon / Kruta -- there is @20 pages in regard to the Aerolithe/Atlantic story and in very intricate detail)

    Other two Atlantics (no Aerolithe components):

    #57473. Originally delivered to Holzschuch . This is the car that was damaged by the train and "restored/recreated". It was at Paul Russell & CO but due to politics (supposedly) wasn't shown at Pebble due to questionable heritage. No idea when it will be shown or as to current status.

    #57591. Originally delivered to Pope in London with registation #EXK 6. Later to Bamford, Perkins and now with Lauren. Body isn't Aerolithe either as it has a 1in higher roofline then all the others.

    If anyone knows the whereabouts of the "lost" ex-factory Atlantic in France/Belgium -- it would be like winning the lottery to be honest. I know of people who had looked at times over the past 30 years to no avail. Just remember to take a lot of "as found" pictures! (and then call me!)
     
  9. dbw

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    just for historical correctness...in post #6 above one should realize chassis 57473 was involved in a bit more than "being damaged by a train"....two people were killed and the car was a write-off of intergalactic scale. thus perhaps the pebble hooha.
     
  10. Josh drives one

    Dec 13, 2009
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    Signing in from Central N.J. . I am arelative recent member, and a long time reader on the site.

    As to the chat on this thread. I do agree with the train wreck comment. The comments afterward are iffy.

    What if 57473 had only 5 original components left and would it not still be 57473. Or maybe 2 or maybe 6. What is the breakpoint.

    I know of many historic Ferraris which out of fireballs now exist with just a frame section and one or two other components.

    If you found the original bible but only one or two actual original pages remained would it still not be the bible.
     
  11. DenisC

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    New program on the History Channel
    featuring the build of the Aerolite replica car at the Guild
     
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  13. Zack

    Zack Formula 3

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    No, it would be a few remnants of the original bible. If you reprinted the rest of the pages and stuck them on to the two original remaining pages, you would have a recreation. There has to be a point where it no longer remains the original. That would be when it is substantially new. What constitutes substantial? The relative amount of old versus the relative amount of new components. A frame member is a very small portion of the old car. It is a recreation, not a restoration, not an original, nor anything else but simply a recreation.
     
  14. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Anything with less than 51% of the original has to be considered a recreation. Otherwise you could have two cars with equal claim to authenticity.
     
  15. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

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    51% by what measure? Original engine, frame, by weight? What?
     
  16. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Argh!
    Busted.
    ;)

    It's all subjective but I'll go with volume.
     
  17. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

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    Ha! Did you know that I was born on September 15th?
     
  18. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ
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    This last year?
     
  19. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

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    LOL
     
  20. WILLIAM H

    WILLIAM H Three Time F1 World Champ

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    #17 WILLIAM H, Mar 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I read in an American car mag that the Atlantique helped inspire the split window corvette

    It even has a raised spine going through it like the Bug
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  21. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

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    Interesting. Did they quote Larry Shinoda personally on that?
     
  22. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Never heard that but I see where it might.
     
  23. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

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    #20 JeremyJon, Mar 2, 2012
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  24. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

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    Yes I don't understand what the difference between the Aerolithe and the Atlantics ... confused or are we talking the same thing with a different name?

    And I thought there were original Atlantics still?
    Pete
     
  25. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

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    hey Pete

    as i understand it (i could be wrong), the Aerolithe was first (only 2 made), then the Atlantics (all on the type 57 chassis still), and of course the 57SC variant

    i read that the Aerolithe had a magnesium body, thus the reason for the external rivited seams

    ....i'm no expert, but i love the cars! :)
     
  26. Aero coupe

    Aero coupe Rookie

    Jan 27, 2013
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    Hey guys,

    The recreation of the Aerolithe from the Guild of Automotive Restorers is now complete. See the link below.

    The Bugatti Page
     
  27. El Wayne

    El Wayne Global Moderator
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    #24 El Wayne, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Yes, I saw this a couple of days ago and was meaning to post it. Of course, it's a replica, but I can't wait to see it in person.

    http://www.bugattipage.com/newspics4/57104%20aerolithe.jpg
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  28. Aero coupe

    Aero coupe Rookie

    Jan 27, 2013
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    El Wayne,

    I am part of the Guild and have had intimate hands on contact with 57104 over the past several years. I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised when you get to see the car in person. I do however have to say that 57104 is more than your common run of the mill replica. With the fact that it is a complete original Type 57 chassis, engine and drivetrain, i prefer to think of it as a re-bodied original. On top of this it has been very helpful in discovering interesting things about the original Aerolithe that otherwise would not be known. By being able to compare our recreation to the original photos we have found many things hidden in the black and white photos that jump out at you and make you say "Oh! that's what that is." We are all hoping that 57104 will be a grand contributor to the Bugatti community and that it will be thought of as a shining example, rather than a replica.
     

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