Construction of a conceptual car: the Bugatti T57 Gangloff coupé

An ambitious plan was conceived in the early 2000s following a unique find in an old attic. We wanted to build the legendary, never-before-made design by French coachbuilder Gangloff, and then pair it with a Bugatti T57 chassis for the first time ever. A somewhat crazy project that turned into a Herculean effort that took more than 5,000 hours of work but also led to a phenomenal result and generated international interest. This is the story of our Bugatti T57 Gangloff Coupé.

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How a rusted chassis led to an epic project

About twenty years ago one of our classic car acquaintances in Great Britain made a discovery in the attic of an old industrial building: the complete chassis and a number of Bugatti T57 parts from 1935, all still in original state. By the time we had this on our radar, what remained from a once four-seater Bugatti with a Stelvio convertible bodywork, was only the chassis, suspension, gearbox, steering wheel, dashboard instruments and radiator. 

The discovery inspired us and got us thinking: why not be the first to restore the car to the legendary, aerodynamic and never before accomplished Gangloff bodywork design instead of the well-known convertible version? An ambitious project was born.

A daring feat

At the time we started the restoration, we did not yet know that this feat would take us no less than 5,000 working hours. It turned out to be a gigantic task and several parties participated in the restoration: our colleague and English classic car specialist Rod Jolley provided the ash wood supporting body frame and the aluminium-made sheet metal, we looked for original parts for the restoration or manufactured those parts ourselves if we could not find them, and Danish classic Bugatti engine specialist Eric Koux provided the correct type of engine that was only a few numbers away from the authentic engine. 

The entire coordination, assembly and restoration of the project took place in Brussels, where the Bugatti gradually came to life.

We wanted all aspects of the car to correspond with the exact philosophy of its time. Without authenticity, there is no successful restoration! Bernard Marreyt

As befits the restoration of a classic car, the complete (re)construction was done with the utmost respect for the soul and history of the car, the essence being a completely historically accurate restoration. The design of the frame and the leather upholstery of the seats, the decorative woodwork of the interior, the construction of the multiple layers of paint, the exact lie-de-vin, the nearly black aubergine brown colour, the large 19-inch wire wheels: we wanted all aspects of the car to correspond with the exact philosophy of its time. 

There were no compromises, even if the restoration of the authentic Bugatti radiator with thermostatic blades alone meant investing around €25,000. Without authenticity, there is no successful restoration!

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A matter of details

Not only did the restoration take a long time and require a lot of patience, but it also required some creativity on our part. During the project, we encountered a number of issues specific to the construction or restoration of an 85-year-old concept. For example, we had to take into account that drivers nowadays have larger stature than in the 1930s. That’s why we didn’t mount the body directly to the chassis but screwed it to the sides. We managed to achieve more interior height (between five and ten centimetres) without compromising the elegance of Gangloff’s design. 

We also had to solve issues of certain details that never occurred before as car design had never reached this stage, such as inventing a mechanism for the ‘wind-up’ side windows while respecting the bodywork design.

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The Bugatti T57 Gangloff Coupé, a classic car that makes hearts beat faster

After five intensive years working on the restoration, the Bugatti T57 Gangloff Coupé was finally ready to be revealed to the world. And although we do say so ourselves, the result was and still is breathtaking. The car is proof of a beautiful harmony between the ingenious Bugatti mechanism and the elegant, aerodynamic sports body of Gangloff. It’s an almost surreal piece of classic car history that we finally brought to life with the deepest respect for the designer’s vision. 

From the Rétromobile salon in Paris to the 100th anniversary of Bugatti at the AutoWorld Museum in Brussels, many classic car enthusiasts have expressed their admiration for this beautifully restored classic car. To this day, this unique classic car still appeals to the imagination. 

Our Bugatti T57 Gangloff turned out to be the Marreyt showpiece but to us, it’s mainly the ultimate fulfilment of our own classic car dream, and that’s what we are proud of.

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