Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Bugatti Type 57: the Stelvio


A more popular choice of bodywork within the Type 57 range was the Stelvio. This was a 2-door 4-seater cabriolet named after a mountain pass on the Italian side of the Alps. Like the Galibier it was available from the start of the Type 57 in 1934. All Stelvios were delivered on the standard chassis.

Bugatti_T57_Stelvio_1936The first series of Stelvio factory bodies, like you see on this picture, appeared a bit big and ponderous, though more up to date than the Galibier. A special feature of this body style was that the hood folded down into the bodywork, flush with the boot and the sides of the car. With the top down the lines of the body were not spoiled by a visibly packed hood, but with its own storage compartment beneath the rear seats this construction did appear a bit peculiar.
In 1934 Bugatti also presented a 2-door 2-seater roadster at the Paris Salon in answer to customers requesting a more sporting version of the Type 57. It was named "Grand Raid" and met with a favorable reaction. In 1935 about ten of these roadster were built and sold. After that the Grand Raid more or less evolved into the Atalante coupe. Now the Grand Raid is one of the most elusive of the Type 57 Bugattis, with very few pictures and scarce information available; it seems that no Grand Raid has survived.

Bugatti_T57_Stelvio_1938This Stelvio is of the second series, with revised headlight-treatment. Compared to the first series Stelvio especially the rear appears more elegant and in all it has a more attractive shape.
Most Bugatti factory bodies were actually made by Gangloff, a coachbuilding firm which originated from Geneva, Switzerland. A branch factory of Gangloff in Colmar, near Molsheim in the Alsace, France supplied the Bugatti bodies Gangloff was (and still is) renown for its funicular (cable operated) railway cars and quality of workmanship. The latter was probably the reason why Bugatti liked to work with them. Next to producing the Bugatti factory body styles Gangloff also offered fine custom body styles for the Type 57 under its own name.

Bugatti_T57_Stelvio_1938The third series Stelvio on this picture looks considerably different from the first. It does convey the Type 57 family resemblance but looks modern with its integrated headlights and its sweeping down rear end with almost integrated fenders. The spare wheel was fitted in the boot lid which didn't leave much room for luggage, but sidemounts were available as an option for those who needed the boot space.

Bugatti_T57_C_Stelvio_1939Here you see one of the later 3rd series Stelvio versions fitted with the supercharger option. It has a distinctive American look to it with its spare wheels fitted into the front fenders and the conservative headlight arrangement.
Though the Type 57 presented itself in sort of unified body designs, customer options and interpretations by external coach builders made almost each car different. Variations included items like placement of lights and spare wheels, the use of color and chrome and so on. Still, from the first series to the last there was a family resemblance which mainly came from the body section starting at the radiator shell and ending just behind the front doors. This part remained largely the same over the years.

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