A team of vintage car restorers has brought the 1935 Bugatti Aerolithe back to life: it was created from scratch a replica that is identical in every detail to the only example in existence that disappeared into thin air almost 90 years ago and is today worth around EUR 150 million.
The Bugatti Aerolithe represents of course one of the biggest secrets of the automotive world. The future car designed by Jean Bugatti made aonly to be seen in public All’Earl’s Court Motor Show del 1935then the road test in 1936 and then disappear into thin air (probably lost during World War II when the Nazi army took over Bugatti, turning it into a war production factory). If it suddenly appeared today, its value would be around 150 million euros.
In reality, however, today almost 90 years later since the last time he was seen in public, it is again possible to admire a model that resembles the original. Yes, because in 2012 the owner of The Guild of Automotive Restorers David Grainger set out to bring the Bugatti Aerolithe back to life as it was, in every detail, with a unique piece. was launched by a French company in 1935.
A real feat given that all that remained of Jean Bugatti’s work were blueprints of the brake pedal and radiator grill and eleven photographs.. This, however, did not discourage Grainger and his team he put the picture on digital analyzing every little detail of a car that mysteriously disappeared into thin air for more than 70 years because the goal was not only to make a car similar to the Aerolithe, but rather to produce the Aerolithe.
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After months and many calculations of trial and errorhis team he was able to establish millimeter-accurate measurements of the car of the previous period and at that time it was possible start work from a modified Bugatti Type 57 chassis (number 57104) is complete with an engine that Grainger already owns. On that structure work began on the bodywork. And it took several months to decide which metal used by Jean Bugatti in the 1930s, a certain magnesium alloy that is more brittle than modern alloys.
At that time it took more time to learn how to make dangerous magnesium: due to its fragility, in fact, pieces of combustible alloy had to be heated to 800-900 degrees to make them malleable and allow the complex curvatures presented by the art-deco work of Aerolithe to be created. This was also a very expensive operation since one sheet of magnesium costs around 3 thousand euros and at least 15 were needed to rebuild the lost car.
Another issue that took the Canadian restoration team a lot of time was that of origin original car color definitionand from that The eleven existing photos of the only Aerolithe produced by Bugatti were all in black and white. Deciding to identify the exact color to use was discovery of car paint: by comparing the color used in the painting with the color of all Bugatti models produced, it was actually possible to identify the shade of the original color.
It was not difficult for the team track tires due to that Dunlop Balloon and fascia bianca which the Aerolithe had died in its only public appearance at the 1935 Earl’s Court Motor Show. not only were they out of production for years but they were hard to find. After lengthy negotiations lasting several months, Dunlop was persuaded to produce custom-made tires similar to the whitewall tires fitted to the originals.
The easiest part, so to speak, was the one about the interior as it is modern Bugatti interior with Jaeger instrumentation seated in the center with simple green leather seats. However, the pregnancy process is long to reach an agreement on the issues cable operated brakes It’s on naturally aspirated inline eight-cylinder engine (in the beginning, of course, there were those who claimed that the previous car was overcharged).
After 10 years research, discussion and work, so the Bugatti Aerolithe has returned to life faithfully in every way to the amazing car that disappeared from the air almost 90 years ago.. No detail was left to chance: no windows that go up and down, no ventilation system, no windshield wipers and its top speed is 64 km/h, the same as the only model produced in 1935.
Until today The only difference with the original Bugatti Aerolithe seems to be the economic value: this article was actually worth around 5 million euros, while if a unique piece that disappeared during the Second World War appeared out of nowhere we would be talking about a valuation of 150 million euros.