The Bugatti Aerolithe - a potted history



A feature about my major project went up today on the Car Body Design website. They included a nice little paragraph about the original Aerolithe, really nice to see that as not many people actually know about it - Its more famous offspring, the Atlantic, tends to steal all the attention.


The story of the original is as frustrating as it is fascinating and is what inspired me to do my new version. The Aerolithe (or Electron coupe as it was also known) was a one off prototype designed by Ettore's son Jean for the 1935 Paris motor show. It was a quantum leap forward in styling, aerodynamics and engineering from anything that had come before and was the undoubted star of the show. It featured superlight magnesium bodywork - a first at the time. The famous riveted construction was because of the great difficulty in using magnesium - it is difficult to weld as it has a very low combustion temperature and it is extremely difficult to work to shape. The Aerolithe went on to star at the London motor show later in 1935, went back to the factory,then a couple of years later disappeared off the face of the earth. To this day, no one knows for sure what happened to it. More information can be found here


A company in Canada called 'the Guild of Automotive Restorers' has been working on building an Aerolithe since 2006 for a very wealthy client. They are keeping it as original and faithful as possible to what is known of the original - which is not a lot! Less than ten photographs of it are known to exist.No one knows for sure what engine or chassis it used, or even what colour it was painted (!) so as you can imagine its not easy. They keep a website charting its progress. Its fascinating to read about the challenges they encounter, and to see the in-progress photographs. Well worth a read.

eta: found this more recent story of the projects current progress.

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