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A Bugatti, a body and a man.

A Bugatti, a body and a man.Today we take a look at a unique car made in 1934 in France which, in 1956, found its way half way round the world to New Zealand and when we look deeper at this car, our attention is drawn to three names – Bugatti, Gangloff and Turnbull.

Jean Bugatti inherited a love of mechanical art from his Father Ettore and the Type 57 was his contribution to the Bugatti name. He not only designed the entirely new chassis but his talent also shone through in his coachwork designs and it is this car’s bodywork that brings us to the next name.

Georges Gangloff first set up his company in 1903 and after WW1 was responsible for beautiful coachwork on all the best car makers of the time. This Bugatti chassis was delivered to Gangloff’s Colmar factory 30 miles south of the Bugatti factory In Molsheim in September 1934 and it is only fair to mention a fourth name – Lucien Schlatter – chief designer at Gangloff who translated the customer’s wishes into reality.

That leaves the third name, Bob Turnbull who enters the life of this car in 1958. A “highly talented, resourceful, ingenious” engineer who lived in the tiny Otago gold-mining town of Ophir in New Zealand and spent 475 NZ dollars on this Bugatti roadster to begin a restoration which was to take 50 years. We immediately take a liking to this man, who was famous for ‘roaring around in his vintage cars’ and drove his 1907 Sizaire et Naudin to the nearby town for groceries and when out on back-country trips, he would sleep under the car.

Such is the attention paid to each and every Bugatti car that left the Molsheim factory that no stone is left unturned when tracing the history of these motoring masterpieces and its owners along the way. The bills for this car from Bugatti and Gangloff added up to just shy of 100,000 Francs – a high price when Bugatti’s price list quoted a Bugatti-bodied Galibier saloon at 76K Francs and a Gangloff-bodied saloon at 80K Francs.

Today this car is priced at millions of pounds, but it is still a car and its 8 cylinder 3,297cc twin cam engine will take you up to nigh-on 100mph accompanied by the pleasing sounds made by machinery designed to be used. Bob Turnbull died in 2012 aged 82 and he left instructions for the proceeds of this car’s sale to be used to set up a scholarship for young Kiwi engineers. What a fine chap to recognise quality, acquire it, use it and enjoy it – and endeavour to inspire others to do the same.

Enjoy the pictures.

Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Waimak Classic Cars.


#7 2017-03-15 21:51
J'ai rarement vu une Bugatti aussi laide!
Look at her profile, a 4-door chassis with a 2-door "flat" body. If it had been done 10 years earlier, it could be forgivable but not in 1934.
Nevertheless, I'd love to own her, a least I'd have a car I could sell and not regtret!
#6 2017-03-15 16:10
I knew the previous New Zealand owner of this
car [Charlie Black] and I also knew Bob Turnbull. I think that Steve is correct Bob would not have fitted those plastic indicator lights. I would suggest that they may well have been fitted after Bob's passing.
#5 2017-03-15 08:33
To Neil Burdock, I have an idea that Bob and Bill were twins. I knew Bob, as he lived not to far from me. I recall following the Sizaire a couple of times at its usual 55 mph cruising speed. At that time Bob's usual 'wheels' was a Lancia Beta coupe and I remember him on one occasion having the Bugatti crankshaft in the boot of the car. This would have been in the 1980s I think.
#4 2017-03-14 22:31
This is a great story of a good man and a magnificent car. It is said that he was very particular about originality. So, I am wondering what happened with the front fenders? It looks like these are replacements and I don't think the originals had a flange down the centre, just a rib.
#3 2017-03-14 19:23
Plain clear period sidelights or spotlights with yellow LEDs are less painful to the eye and more effective?
#2 2017-03-14 12:53
It's a stunningly beautiful car and I understand the need for flashing indicators but why do they have to be so modern, probably plastic and why 'nail' them onto the front wings. For me they spoil a gorgeous car.
#1 2017-03-14 11:47
He has a brother called Bill who is a friend of mine and lives in the UK. He owns a 1913 X19 Panhard and also has a Bugatti under restoration. He sent me a long letter regarding Bill and his brothers trip to France to meet the builder of their Sizaire et Naudin in the fifties!

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