Drawn to Speed: The Automotive Art of John Lander (2015)
Bugatti Girl Series
Ettore Bugatti created wonderful, beautiful automobiles.
God created wonderful, beautiful women.
I did my best to combine the two in a series of illustrations that just keeps growing. I hope you like the results.
“Beauty and the Bugatti”
Little did I know that this illustration would be the start of a series that is up to five so far.
The car is a Type 57 Bugatti, with coachwork by Gangloff. This car was in Atlanta in the early 1970s as part of the growing collection of Jim Southard. Jim Southard was a transplanted New York stockbroker who became a dealer in classic cars. Southard was in the process of having a 16-car garage built behind his home on fashionable Riverside Drive. While waiting for the garage’s completion he was short of space. The Bugatti wound up spending some time in my carport. I was happy to keep the car exercised by taking it out for short drives. I first did a commissioned illustration of the car for Southard in 1970. In 2004, I came across a copy of the earlier picture and decided to paint it again and add the dark haired girl as a background. “Beauty and the Bugatti” became the first of the series.
“Bugatti Girl II”
In 1937, Colonel G.M. Giles was well known as one of England’s most rabid Bugatti enthusiasts. The Colonel owned at least 18 Bugattis between 1920 and 1948. When the new Type 57 S chassis became available, he just had to have one. At this time, he already had a Type 57 with coachwork designed by his brother Eric and built by Corsica Coachworks in North London. The 57 S chassis, shorter and lower than the 57, was a perfect platform for a two-seat roadster.
On this second design, Eric completely outdid himself. From the teardrop front fenders to the accent spear that ends at the low-cut doors, it is a treat to behold. The car was totally restored over a three-year period, beginning in 1995. The interior, which had been replaced with leather during an earlier rebuild, was put back to original using crocodile skins.
In composing the illustration, I may have exaggerated the lady’s bosom a bit, but I’m sure you will forgive this artistic license.
“Bugatti Girl III”
This car must have been an absolute showstopper when it was unveiled in 1935. The Aérolithe was the prototype for the three Type 57S Atlantic Coupes which followed.
Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean, was the designer/coordinator of the project.
The distinct riveted seams were necessary because of the light alloy material used for the body. Elektron is an alloy of aluminum, tin and magnesium, and is highly flammable. Standard welding techniques were just too dangerous.
The Atlantic Coupes that followed were ordinary aluminum. The riveted seams were retained, however, as part of the design package.The Aérolithe was first shown at the Paris Auto Show in September/October of 1935. The car was then shown briefly in London at Olympia, October 17-26.
The Aérolithe body was later scrapped by the factory, and a few parts were used on the first Atlantic built for Rothschild. All three Atlantic Coupes exist to this day.
“Bugatti Girl IV”
Some cars, like the proverbial cat, seem to have nine lives. That is surely the case with this rebodied Bugatti Type 54 Grand Prix.
Prince George Christian Lobkowitz was an up-and-coming amateur racing driver. The young Czech driver had raced three other Bugattis before the Type 54. Lobkowitz entered his newly acquired racecar in the 1932 German Grand Prix at Berlin’s AVUS track. Lobkowitz fatally crashed the car during the race.
The remains of the car passed to Lobkowitz’s close friend, Zdenek Pohl. Pohl had a little-known Czech coachbuilder, O. Uhlik, supply the almost English style roadster body seen here. At some point, a subsequent owner had the car rebuilt once again as a Type 54 Grand Prix car. Now the roadster body has again been fitted to a Grand Prix chassis, albeit a different one.
The Bugatti is part of the Mullin Museum’s collection, and I saw it when I was there in 2012.
“Bugatti Girl V”
While not as exotic as its sister cars, the Atlantic Coupes, the Atalante is a beautiful car in its own right. In all, there were 17 Atalante Coupes built on the Type 57S short chassis. The Atalante was introduced at the 1936 Paris Salon. This was the first Bugatti model to have the V-shape radiator. If you see an Atalante Coupe in profile, you will recognize it as the inspiration for the XK-120 Jaguar Coupe built many years later.
The coupe in my illustration was part of the Harrah collection in Reno. When Harrah got the car in 1961, he had Bugatti expert “Bunny” Phillips handle the chassis restoration. The chassis went to storage for a while at Harrah’s until the car was reassembled in time for Pebble Beach in 1978. The Atalante took first in its class and best of show.
I found the two-tone color scheme very attractive and thoroughly enjoyed doing the illustration.