Today’s car is a 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Suisse Graber Cabriolet owned by Liliane Quon McCain. I saw this car at “The Best of French and Italian Car Show held in Woodley Park, Van Nuys, CA. It is finished in Burgundy and Navy Blue with a Red leather interior. It is powered by a 180 hp, super charged 198.2 cu in, 3.24 liter, straight 8 with a Stromberg UUR2 carburetor, mated to a 4-speed manual transmission with 4.17:1 rear axle gear ratio. Slowing this beauty down are hydraulic drum brakes in all 4-corners installed by Garber. The front suspension is solid axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers. The rear suspension is live axle with quarter-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers.
In the mid-1930s, Jean Sechaudand, the Geneva-based dealer, ordered seven Type 57 chassis, then commissioned Swiss coach-builder Hermann Graber to build the bodies. This is one of the very special seven, and remarkably, all seven have survived. This Bugatti was originally owned by a Dr. Walser. It was sold in 1950 to Arnold Christian Kropf, Jr. who owned the Metzgern Hotel in Thun, Switzerland. He loved driving it through the winding mountain roads from his hotel in Thun to his home. Mr. Kropf owned the Bugatti until his hotel was purchased and he lost its parking spot and the car’s garage. He felt it would be safer with his son and daughter-in-law in Beverly Hills and shipped it to them. It has been meticulously maintained by his daughter-in-law Liliane since 1969. The engine was overhauled by Otto Zipper in Beverly Hills in the early 1970s and was impeccably restored by Bugatti restorer Jim Stranberg in the late 1970s.
There were 546 Bugatti Type 57s produced between 1934 and 1940. The only Garber I could find that was sold had been sold in 1998 for $189,500.00. This is an immaculate example of a pre-war French – Swiss coachbuilt luxury sports car. Amazing! You usually only get to see cars of this caliber at Concours d’Elegance events. What a treat to this one at the local ‘The Best of French and Italian Car Show” and it was a stand out. Thanks for riding along. Frank