The 1935 Bugatti Type 57S Compétition Coupé Aerolithe, designed by Jean Bugatti and Joseph Walter shocked attendees of the 1935 Paris Salon de l’Automobile, where it was unveiled as the Type 57 Coupé Spécial. It was a sleek aerodynamic wonder during an era of boxy, heavy automobiles. The designers further shocked viewers by not using steel to fabricate the body.
The body of the Type 57S Compétition Coupé Aerolithe was constructed of Elektron magnesium alloy, a material that is nearly impossible to weld. The finickiness of the alloy made it necessary to rivet the body together. The rivets ran the length of the car’s spine and front fenders, adding a strikingly aesthetic design contrast that mesmerized viewers.
The original Type 57S Compétition Coupé Aerolithe has been lost to time, but it was faithfully recreated in 2007 by a Bugatti designer. The work was painstakingly based on a few photographs, a period oil painting, the few remaining design specifications, and factory records. Many consider the Aerolithe to be the basis for the later Bugatti Atlantic concept car. Legend holds that the Aerolithe was stripped for parts to help produce the four Atlantics.
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