Bugatti Throwback Thursday

1938 Bugatti Type 57 Aerolithe Revealed in Kuwait

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The Historical, Vintage & Classic Cars Museum in Kuwait revealed one of the rarest historic classic car, a remake of the 1935 “Bugatti Type 57 Aerolithe” in a special exhibition that is available to public viewing from 13th of May to 15th of June 2013, giving them an interesting opportunity to visit this special car for the first time in the Middle East.

“It was a quantum leap forward in styling, aerodynamics and engineering.”

The Aerolithe (or Electron coupe as it was also known) was a one off prototype designed by Ettore’s son Jean for the 1935 Paris motor show. It was a quantum leap forward in styling, aerodynamics and engineering from anything that had come before and was the undoubted star of the show.It featured superlight magnesium bodywork – a first at the time. The famous riveted construction that was used in aerospace was because of the great difficulty in using magnesium – it is difficult to weld as it can catch fire easily and it is extremely difficult to work to shape. The Aerolithe went on to star at the London Motor Show later in 1936, but then mysteriously disappeared off the face of the earth. To this day, no one knows for sure what happened to it.


…a historic opportunity to get to know one of the fastest and oldest cars that was made back in the 1930s.”

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After 78 years, a company in Canada called ‘the Guild of Automotive Restorers’ has been working on building the Aerolithe. They have worked on many other projects but this one was the most important. They kept it original and faithful to what is known of the original – which is not a lot! Around eleven black and white photographs of the original car from Paris and London Motorshows and some stories from Bugatti enthusiasts is all what there is to be known to have existed. After huge research and collecting of information, they managed to build the car in the same exact specifications and craftsmanship that the Bugatti technician used in building the Aerolithe, the most important and challenging decision was using Magnesium to build it just like the original Aerolithe in 1935.

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To construct it, the restoration team had to learn to handle dangerous magnesium. The team had spent a long time determining which period-correct alloy to use; in the end, the appropriate metal turned out to be much more difficult to shape than more modern mixes. Color was a key question for the team as all existing photos were black-and-white. However, a painting of the car existed, and by comparing this with other Bugatti colors, the original paint shade was identified.

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Even finding tires required extra effort. The photographs of the car at its only Motor Show appearance displayed it shod on Dunlop Balloon whitewall tires. Nothing suitable could be found, so the tires were custom fabricated after long but successful negotiations with the owners of the Dunlop trademarks. From start to finish, the research, planning and execution of the Aerolithe build took five years of trial and error.

The arrival to Kuwait of the legendary classic car which is the oldest in the history of luxury car making is part of the museum’s objectives of satisfying the desires of car lovers. The exhibition presents sports car enthusiasts a historic opportunity to get to know one of the fastest and oldest cars that was made back in the 1930s.

The car which was re-manufactured by a Canadian company, in the same original design and technical information and the craftsmanship of the Bugatti technicians while they build the original Aerolithe. They used all original Bugatti parts in the process with matching number, of chassis, engine, transmission, rear differential and some of the front axle. For nearly 10 years, the car’s re-creation has captured the attention of classic and historic car enthusiasts who remained watching with keen interest for the time of its launch, until it was announced it was debuting in Kuwait before anywhere else in the world.

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