Bugatti introduced the legendary Type 57 in 1934, laying the groundwork for some of its most iconic cars, including the Atlantic and Atalante. In true Bugatti fashion, the chassis of this high-performance road car was proven on the race track. The Type 57G took to the track in 1937, with an enclosed body that was quickly dubbed the "Tank." The Type 57G did Bugatti proud, winning the French Grand Prix in 1936 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937 and 1939. The Le Mans victory was the first major international win for Bugatti. Just three Type 57G Tanks were produced, but what the car lacked in production numbers it more than made up for in results. Some accounts say that the Type 57Gs won every major race they were entered in. At the end of the 1939 Le Mans race, Bugatti was 26 miles ahead of the second-place car.
One of the streamliners disappeared after the Paris Auto Salon in 1936, and another Type 57G was destroyed in a tragic testing crash that killed Jean Bugatti shortly after it had won Le Mans in 1939. Legend has it that the last Type 57G Tank survived WWII thanks to the forward-thinking Bugatti family, who buried the vehicle underground for the duration of the conflict.
The shape and paint scheme of the Type 57G Tank also influenced the modern Bugatti Veyron, in the form of the first "Legends" limited-edition car introduced in 2013. The new car had very different dimensions, but there’s a clear lineage between the two vehicles, most evident with the Legends edition 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse "Jean-Pierre Wimille," whose blue-on-blue livery matches that of the surviving Tank.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1937 Bugatti Type 57 G Tank.