Bugatti Type 57G Tank (1937)
Bugatti Type 57G Tank
The Bugatti Type 57G Tank was built in Molsheim in 1936 and 1937. Only three cars were produced at the Bugatti manufacturing plant in the Alsace. With these racing cars, Bugatti aimed to lead the world of French motor racing to new victories, as at that time only foreign brands were constantly winning.
Jean Bugatti, son of the company founder Ettore Bugatti, pushed through an initiative to develop a sports car which could be used for long distance competitions. In order to ensure the lowest possible centre of gravity, it was decided to combine the standard type 57S chassis with the Bugatti 3.3-liter row eight cylinder and a wheelbase of 2.98 m. The engine of the 57G Tank delivers approximately 200 hp and, thanks to the aerodynamically designed body, could quickly reach higher speeds than that of the competitors at the time.
The car was on the road to success from the very beginning, with Jean-Pierre Wimille a fixture at the wheel. His first victories in the 57G Tank were won in 1936 at the Grand Prix de l'A.C.F in Montlhéry and the Grand Prix de la Marne.
For the Le Mans 24 hour race on July 19 and 20th, 1937, Bugatti registered two racing cars of this type. The first car was driven by test drivers Pierre Veyron and Roger Labric, with Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist taking control of the second Tank. After only a short while, Wimille took the lead and ultimately won the race with an average speed of 136.99 km/h (84 mph) and a total distance of 3,287.938 km (2,043 miles). Thus, he was able to claim Bugatti's very first victory in this legendary race, and became a brand legend himself.