January's Model of the Month - Bugatti 57 Galibier by Spark

01 December 2012
imports_CCGB_bugatti57galibier1939_32274.gif Bugatti 57 Galibier 1939 in 1/43 scale by Spark
Inspired by altitude - Spark's Bugatti delivers a helping of late 1930s style, packed with quality and detail. ...

Bugatti 57 Galibier – 1939


Exaltation can be found in many places for those charged with deciding a new car’s official name. For Lamborghini, famous fighting bulls have often done the trick, which is a darned sight more romantic than anything dreamed up by Ford; Aventador… Focus… no contest!

But for Italian-born Ettore Bugatti and his son Jean the natural world’s beauty aided the christening of their stylish Model 57, named after the Col du Galibier Pass in France’s Dauphiné Alps.

At more than 8,700ft, this breath-taking mountain road may have equalled Bugatti’s lofty ambitions for the Galibier which, more than 70 years later, gave its name to a new and very beautiful Bugatti, the 16C. The Type 57 was first produced in 1934 and eventually spawned close variants such as the famous Atalante and Atlantic. Just four production examples of the latter were actually built and only two survive… one being owned by super-rich fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

So great is the desire for cars such as these, that a previously undiscovered Type 57S Atalante sold for more than £3 million when it came to auction in 2009 after being found in a garage in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne.

A 3.3 litre over-head camshaft engine was the initial force behind the Type 57 and it pushed the vehicle to 95mph; thermostatically-controlled shutters dressed the engine cover sides. Other variants soon emerged, such as the 57T which was tuned to achieve 115mph, and the 57C racer which shared the same 3.3 litre engine but was fitted with a supercharger. Another variant of the latter, the 57C Tank, won the French Grand Prix in 1936 and the 1937 Le Mans, with help from its 4.7 litre engine.

In terms of design, the Type 57 was of a pillar-less coupé arrangement, with ‘suicide’ rear doors, but this was changed in favour of a central pillar to mount a front suicide door.

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Spark Model’s handsome replica displays the latter format, along with the many design flourishes for which Bugatti was renowned. For instance, the wheel arch-mounted spare wheel cover with rear-view mirror, and those trademark engine cover louvres have been faithfully reproduced along with the long piano hinge between both engine covers.

Spark has done a magnificent job in recreating the Rudge Witworth wire spoke wheels, and the tyre treads are very effective. Finer detail points include delicate door handles and hinges, a hollow-moulded exhaust pipe and lovely elongated teardrop-shaped front bumpers. These flank an excellent grille, which in turn sits behind fine protective bars as seen on the real machine.

The rich, red bodywork paint is split by the upper black coat, but the eye sees red yet again via the interior. The contrast is superb and the inner colour helps the collector to enjoy the very fine dash detail, steering wheel and inner door/window handles. Further contrast comes by way of the matt black roof, with its central and outer raised portions… all pointing towards splendid attention to the shape of the real machine.

For the Top Gear generation, the marque Bugatti will instantly prompt visions of the awesome Veyron and its blistering performance. For sheer elegance, style and grace, though, the Type 57 wins hands down. In the same context, Spark’s 1/43 replica is a wonderful rendition of the real thing… and deserves a place in the collection of any vintage car model enthusiast.

For more replicas from Spark Model, visit www.sparkmodel.com