- Chassis # 57679
- Engine # 496
- Ordered New By Francis Curzon, The 5th Earl Howe
- Featuring A Rich History & Unique Gangloff Design Attributes
- Complete Mechanical Restoration Completed by Klopper Engineering
- A Fabulous and Important Bugatti, Very Capable For Touring & Widely Eligible For Showing
Cars would not be cars without people, and people are best remembered to other car people by the cars they drove. A symbiotic relationship of human and machine that has worked its way into the social fabric of life as we know it. As such, great names bring up great cars, and great cars yield intricate stories, just like the people who owned them. For this particular Bugatti Type 57 on offer, it is important to first establish this relationship between the owner and his machine.
Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon, more formally known as the 5th Earl Howe, was born on May 1st 1884 in Mayfair, London. As a benefactor of a well-healed family with close ties to government, Francis Curzon followed family tradition and joined the Naval Reserve immediately following his education. There he served until the end of World War I, and in 1918 began his career in politics through 1929. Throughout all of this, there was a keen interest in motorcars but his duty to Queen and Country kept him focused. It wasn’t until 1928, at the age of 44 that his racing career started. The Irish Grand Prix introduced Lord Howe to the sport in a Bugatti Type 43, and with such close ties to the Bentley Boys, Lord Howe was soon racing for the Bentley Factory Team. Between 1929 and 1935 Lord Howe entered the 24 Hours of LeMans 6 times. The pinnacle of Lord Howe’s career came in the way of back-to-back wins behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo. The first in 1930 at the helm of an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750GS where he took a class win at the LeMans 24 hour race. Again in 1931, he was victorious with co-driver Henry Birkin in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300LM for the overall win. Even though an accident in 1937 rendered him unable to continue racing, he continued his motorsports career in a more political fashion. Lord Howe took a great interest in educating, promoting, and supporting all things motorsport. He became VP of the FIA, delivered numerous speeches at the House of Lords, and even remained president of the British Racing Drivers Club which he co-founded until his passing in 1964.
During his lifetime, Lord Howe was behind the wheel of many interesting cars. Some he owned and kept on his estate, some he simply piloted to victory. LBI Limited has the unique opportunity to offer Lord Howe’s 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio, with coachwork by Gangloff. Chassis # 57679 was invoiced to Whitehouse Motors in July of 1938. Per the Type 57 registry, this example left Molsheim in May of 1938 to be further fitted with coachwork by Gangloff in Colmar. There, it received special touches such as a special ordered hood per the build notes. As well as headlights in the fenders and is reportedly the first Type 57 to be finished in all black from new. 57679 was finished in late June of 1938 with the total invoiced amount being 74,635 Francs. 57679 was then delivered to the Earls Court Motor Show on October 1st then shortly after delivered to its first owner, Earl Howe.
At some point in the 1940s the engine, gearbox, chassis plate and papers were exchanged with chassis # 57698. As such, it continued for the next 68 years with engine number 37C and was always known as a Type 57C with chassis number 57698. During these 68 years, the ownership went from Howe to H.Robinson, and then to Charles Downie via Bugatti Specialist Jack Lemon Burton (per the service tag on the firewall) in 1953. Later inheriting the car, Lesley Downie of Austin, Texas kept the car for many years, as well as keeping it known to the club through registry updates etc… We can also assume that the car spent some time in Mexico either at a vacation home or on tours per the Mexican Registration stickers, which also show the incorrect chassis number of 57698. It wasn’t until 2011 when Bugatti purveyor Jaap Braam Ruben discovered 57698 along with 57679 and brought the pair to Harry Kouwen to put them back to their proper specification and matching numbers configurations.
At this time, a mechanical restoration was completed on 57679 by Klopper Engineering. With such a well-preserved appearance, minimal work was completed on the cosmetic aspects of the car. It still retains what appears to be a very sturdy lacquer paint job that presents nicely with only a few minor imperfections to note. The interior was also left alone, though likely received work at other points in its life. It appears largely original with a lovely patina on the leather and other items. It presents as a beautiful combination of preservation with superb mechanical functionality.
Thereafter, 57679 completed multiple tours and rallies from 2012-2015 including the International Bugatti Rally in Vaals in 2012 and Scotland in 2013. It also performed flawlessly during the Transappenica Rally in Italy and Croatia. These merits further solidify its current condition as a strong tour worthy example that can also be respectably shown and ultimately enjoyed no matter the use.
Like many great cars, Bugatti’s have a way of capturing history. Some of the most interesting people of our time were drawn to the most unique cars of the period. If a car such as this was able to captivate someone as lively as Francis Curzon. With all of those fabulous racing achievements in the best cars of the day. Then this is a car worthy of any serious collection.
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