1937 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Drophead Coupe
Chassis number: 57529
Registration Number: 648RDT75 French
It appears the chassis was used first by Ettore Bugatti himself, he actually registered it himself, and the car was used as a factory demonstrator around Molsheim by Bugatti LeMans 24h racing driver Robert Benoist.
The car number 57529 was first registered at Prefecture du Bas Rhin by
* Bugatti Ettore Molsheim on 28th of July 1937 as 8583-NV3.
History, sent in by the owner:
Bugatti 57529 was built in march 1937. Its first user, as 'voiture de demonstration
* was Robert Benoist, the famous Bugatti racing driver (24 du Mans winner in 1937, first World champion driver in 1927) and director of the Bugatti Showroom in Paris.
Ettore Bugatti personally registered the car in Strasbourg on 28th july 1937, and used it as tied accomodation car (perhaps with a factory coachbody). Then Bugatti commissioned the Vanvooren body cabriolet in January 1938, for a French customer, M. Plegat.
In 1954, the well known Bugatti mechanic Henri Novo (from Paris) bought the car. In 1959, he sold it to Belgian broker and Bugatti enthusiast Jean de Dobbeleer, who shipped the Bugatti to his correspondent in the United States, Bugatti broker Gene Cesar. He gave it to a dentist, James Stickley from lowa, in exchange for a Type 35 racer. In 1972, Mr. John R. Bond, of Escondido (California), the owner of «Cars & tracks» magazine, bought the car, and restored it, at a cost of 250,000 dollars (or 250.000 euros in 2008).
Mr. John Bond sold the car in 1988, through a Sotheby's auction in Switzerland. A classic car collector, Mr. Helmut Karbe, from Hamburg (Germany) bought the car and asked the Danish Bugatti specialist living in France, Eric Koux, to install a compressor (engine, No. 248 from n° 57358 Bugatti, another type 57 cabriolet which was written off in the fifties). In 2007, Mr. Patrick Meney, a well known french writer and tv producer, for a long time Bugatti enthusiast, bought the car.
When the original engine seized in 1962 as a result of a fracture of the Celeron gear, the engine was replaced with engine 540 a factory spare engine but which was also stamped 57335). Later this engine was replaced by engine 248 ex 57358 but the former engine stayed with the car until it was sold by Achim Weise.
The Sotheby's auction, in Switzerland, 1988
Rallve Barycentre en Bugatti, 2008
Retromobile, Paris, February 6-15, 2009

#14 I|° Rallye Paris-Granville, May 1-3, 2009
Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or, Dijon-Prenois, June 19-20, 2010

#20 Deauville Bugatti Legend, July 17-18, 2010,
II° Alfa Bugatti Meeting & C.B.F. , Bourgogne, June 25, 2011

#20 XXII° Rally de l'Association des Clubs de Marque en Haute Alsace, August 23-26, 2012
XII° Journées Bugatti d'lle de France - CBF, April 6-7, 2013
* Vintage Revival Montihéry, May 9-10, 2015,
Richard Mille display, Chantilly (F), September 6, 2015
VI° Coupes de Printemps, Montihéry (F), April 2, 2016
XV° Journées d'ille de France - CBF, April 5-6, 2016

#41 CBF Rallye du Cinguantenaire, Périgord (F), May 11-14, 2017, Patrick Meney
C B F les 50 ans du Club Bugatti, Autodrome Heritage Festival, Montihéry (F), June 24-25, 2017
XVI° Journées d'lle de France, En Route pour l'Auvergne - CBF, April 7-8, 2018

#1 C B F Les Vosges de Fritz Schlumpf, Gérardmer (F), June 7-10, 2018, Patrick Meney
XVII° Journées d'lle de France, Voyages extraordinaires à Amiens - CBF, April 6-7, 2019
C B F Bugatti à Montihéry (F), June 8, 2019
110 ans Bugatti, Grand Tour Bugatti, Paris (F). September 5, 2019
Furher infomration has recently been provided to us by an Historian of the Marque:
This car has a fascinating and clear history.

It is a 57C supercharged with the Ventoux bodywork. It was Jean Bugatti’s own test car between 1937 and 1939. Every new development on the type 57 was tested on this model, which kept features not available on any other 57 in this series. It was a rolling laboratory.

As witnessed by the Molsheim factory guests, who accompanied him, as he drove at terrifyingly high speeds on the Alsace roads, Jean Bugatti systematically tested possible technological advances on his 57C, while continuing to use it,. So many persons have fond memories of « LA GRISE » (name given to Monsieur Jean’s car at the factory).

On Friday August 11th 1939, the evening of the fatal test run of the 57G TANK, Jean Bugatti asked Robert Aumaître (Racing course director), and Mr. Joos, a mechanic helper, to drive the TANK to the test site, while he drove « LA GRISE » with his young brother Roland Bugatti at his side and two other persons. Jean dropped Roland at Duttlenheim and the others a bit further.
Now alone, Jean parked the 57C at the test site, on the side between two trees, and took the wheel of the 57G TANK. Jean did several laps back and forth with Robert at his side, then asked to do one last run alone. This is when the fatal crash occurred.
Robert Aumaître and Mr. Joos heard the noise. They jumped into « LA GRISE » to reach Jean Bugatti who had been thrown-out from the TANK, and still showed feeble signs of life. They rushed him to hospital stretched on the back seat of « LA GRISE ». This was to be Jean Bugatti’s last journey in his 57C.

Ettore Bugatti, extremely affected by the death of his son, would not allow anyone to touch his car « LA GRISE » which then remained idle at the factory. Very soon the 1939-1945 WWII started (Sept 3rd 1939), Alsace was invaded by the Germans, and the Bugatti factory stopped normal car production.
« LA GRISE » embodied so many hopes and happy memories as well as the final tragedy that, out of all factory cars, it became a kind of memorial physical landmark.

Ettore Bugatti even refused to sell it to his son in law, le Comte de Boigne, Lydia’s husband. After the war, Roland Bugatti registered the car in his name and used it, once he took over the management of the factory, perhaps as a symbolic sign that he was in the very shoes of his brother. At that time, the factory finances were disastrous and the test-runs by Maurice Trintignant for the last BUGATTI 251 GP ended in fiasco. As Roland Bugatti could not repay his debt to Trintignant, he offered him instead « LA GRISE ».
That’s how in 1954 the car was taken by Trintignant.
During 1965, it was still registered in the name of Roland Bugatti, industriel, 20 rue Boissière PARIS. (20 rue Boissière was the Paris address of Ettore BUGATTI’s apartment). Maurice Trintignant still remembers this car so well, and has many anecdotes to tell about « LA GRISE ».

Vehicle details

Vehicle data

Model series
Type 57
Model name
Type 57 C
First registration date
Not provided
Year of manufacture
Mileage (read)
1 km
Chassis number
Engine number
Not provided
Gearbox number
Not provided
Matching numbers
Previous owners
Not provided

Technical details

Body style
Convertible (Tourer)
Power (kW/hp)
Cubic capacity (ccm)
Right (RHD)
Not provided
Front brakes
Rear brakes
Fuel type

Individual configuration

Exterior color
Manufacturer color name
Interior color
Interior material

Optional equipment


Condition, registration & documentation

Has Report
Ready to drive


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