Bugatti Type 57S ‘Atlantic’ Recreation

One of the most admired cars of its time, only four Bugatti Type 57S ‘Atlantics’ were ever built (between 1936 and 1938) due to the high cost and the economic climate in Europe. The quartet comprised one works car and three sister cars sold to private owners.

The Bugatti’s avant-garde looks evoked opulence, speed and glamour while cutting edge aircraft styling, made topical by many ‘transatlantic firsts’, inspired the design.

External body seams and visible rivet lines reflected contemporary aircraft construction techniques and it was rumoured that the bodywork was made from a superlight wonder material called elektron, a mixture of aluminium, tin and magnesium. In fact, that was only true of the Atlantic’s earlier prototype, the Aerolithe or Meteor.

The works car disappeared during the war. The Black Car, as it was commonly known, originally owned by Jacques Holzschuch, was destroyed in a railway level crossing accident in 1955, and then re-constructed. The two remaining cars, originally sold to Lord Rothschild and R B Pope, are in private collections.

The historical importance of these Bugattis has inspired the building of several exact replicas, otherwise known as toolroom copies or continuation cars. The car displayed in the rotunda was commissioned in 2013 by East Sussex car collector Mike Timms. Built by automotive project engineer Russell Pain, it was the result of four years of painstaking work, which included CAD modelling along with traditional restoration techniques.

The Atlantic was on display courtesy of Mike Timms