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Bugatti Type 57 Grand Raid Roadster by Worblaufen, #57260, 1935

  • The Grand Raid Roadster, so called by way of reference to rally raid endurance events, is the forerunner of the sporting Type 57S Bugatti. While not classified a Surbaissé (lowered) Type 57, the Grand Raid is a lower profile car. Bugatti raked the steering column at a lesser angle, and repositioned the gear lever and handbrake, putting the driver farther back along the chassis and allowing for a shorter windscreen.
  • The first Grand Raid appeared at the 1934 Paris Auto Salon, chassis #57221, which was bodied by Gangloff, a coachbuilding firm located in the Franco-Swiss territory near Berne. Bugatti would build a further nine Grand Raid cars before its sporting intentions were brought upon the Type 57S Atalante. Of the original ten Grand Raid cars, two were bodied by the Swiss firm Carrosserie Worblaufen, the second of which is our car here. Established in 1929 by the frères Ramseier—Fritz, Hans, and Ernst—Worblaufen came into existence only for the purpose of clothing the most luxurious cars in Europe. Of less notoriety than many of its Parisian and Milanese bretheren, Worblaufen nevertheless succeeded in creating a few stunning designs.
  • The first of the Grand Raid Worblaufen cars was ordered by Monsieur Montfort, pseudonym of Prince Louis Napoleon; this was chassis #57246, which headed to Montfort's home on Lake Geneva. Shown here, the second Grand Raid Worblaufen car was ordered and invoiced between March and April of 1935. The Swiss owner, Jules Aellen, commissioned Worblaufen to complete the same coachwork as Montfort's, though Aellen specified that his car wear a taller vee-shaped windscreen. He ordered both a retractable top and a tonneau cover for the passenger compartment, and also a full car cover. RM Auction notes that the car was also furnished with "two sets of matching leather coveralls, two Pecari jackets in the same color as the car, two leather caps, two sets of driving glasses and a leather picnic basket." Aellen also asked that the headlamp level be higher than standard, and he asked for the handsome chrome 'EB' badge on the headlamp bar. From period photos it also appears that chassis #57260 originally wore the pressed disc wheel covers seen here, whereas the Montfort car wore painted spokes. Aellen's car was originally beige and black, a near reversal of the Montfort livery.
  • While the Grand Raid foreshadowed the Type 57S—and indeed some did race—chassis #57260 was always intended for show. In early June of 1935, just days after delivery, chassis #57260 won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at the 2nd Swiss Automobile Concours d'Elegance in Montreux. Through its life, this Grand Raid remained nicely kept, and after its modern-day discovery in 2000, returned to concours condition.

 

Last Updated: Mar 5, 2018