How I would Retromod the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic
The Pilot Episode
I have always loved classic cars, but their high price tag, unease of ownership, and difficulty to drive has made it difficult to choose to own one as a daily driver in today's world. That is why I am so obsessed with the concept of retro modding classic cars. These are classic cars with modern electrics and mechanical bits. There have been some beautiful ones that have come out recently, but there are still a lot left behind. That is why I decided to start this series, where I go through the brief history of some classic cars and then decide, with you, how I would retro mod it if I wasn't a broke college student writing this instead of doing my homework. If you like this concept, let me know in the comments below and you can add what car I should do next. I have a pretty large list already, but I'm happy to hear more.
The Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic
Of all of the cars ever made, I decided to begin my series by retro modding this car because it is, in my opinion, one of the most special and beautiful cars ever made. A little over eighty years ago, Bugatti created just four of these works of art. They were revolutionary for the time, and some consider them to be the world's first supercars. They flew to 60 MPH in around 10 seconds, and had a top speed of 124 miles per hour. Three of the four cars are still around, dazzling spectators at places like Pebble Beach. The forth, however, is a mystery. Originally owned by Jean Bugatti, it is believed that it changed hands between Bugatti engineers and race car drivers following Jean's death in 1939. However, when Germany invaded France in 1941, it disappeared. There are plenty of rumors about it's location, chief among them that Bugatti themselves keep it stashed away for safekeeping, maybe as a emergency fund if the company ever has money problems. That would be quite the rainy day fund, as experts have appraised it's value at more that 113 million dollars. That is over double the record held by a Ferrari 250 GTO for most expensive car ever sold at auction (48 million USD in 2018).
Perhaps the most important decision is what chassis to use. The Bugatti is an extremely long car, and I want to keep the proportions as close to orginal as I could, so I found two new cars with similar wheelbase's as the Bugatti (117.3 inches). One of the biggest problems with finding a chassis is that most cars nowadays are unibody, meaning the chassis and the body work together. If you want to put a new body onto a car, you need a body on frame chassis. Generally, only SUV's and pickup trucks have body on frame chassis's in 2020. That makes it extremely difficult to find cars with the exact same proportions that are also body on frame. The two cars I decided would be good bases for the Bugatti were the Lexus LX570 and the Cadillac Escalade. While those are both gigantic cars, even by today's standards, they are both actually slightly shorter than the Bugatti. They are, however, significantly wider for both the front and rear track than the Bugatti. That is unfortunate but there simply aren't modern frame on body cars that are as narrow as the Bugatti. The two donor cars will also provide the engine, suspension, and any other mechanical bits. They both can work extremely well as the base of the Bugatti because they both have extremely comfortable rides while not sacrificing power. The Lexus has a 5.7L V8 producing nearly 400hp and the Caddilac has a 6.2L V8 producing 420hp. With the body is strapped on, the Bugatti will be turned into the ultimate GT car.
For the body, I would use carbon fiber molds to create those elegant lines. The car is extremely long and requires a stiff body to keep the power under control and to improve the driving experience, and a carbon fiber body can provide that. An aluminum body would be a lot cheaper and easier, but you would sacrifice stiffness and increase weight. Steel would be the final option, but I am retro modding a Bugatti. I am not going to cheap out by using a steel body when I am trying to recreate one of the all time greats.
I am of the opinion that the interior should be kept as close to the orginal as possible. The seats in the Cadillac or the Lexus look too modern for this car, so they would be switched out with seats from a Rolls Royce Phantom. These seats still look similar to the seats that were placed in the original Bugatti, but add a lot of comfort, lumbar support, and safety. The dashboard would keep a similar look, but add usability. The wooden steering wheel would be replaced with a nice comfortable, possibly alcantara, steering wheel. The dials would stay in the middle of the dashboard like in the original, and would stay analog. The stick would be moved to the front left of the driver, like where it is on a modern car, to improve drivability. Finally, I would add a small screen between the driver and the passenger seats where the driver can control music, navigation, and other modern nessesities in any GT car. This screen would have a garage door cover that makes it disappear when not in use.
In the end, the new Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic would be a long legged cruiser that combines the luxury of the modern world with the beauty of the past. This would not come cheap. I did some brief research to try and figure out the cost, but some costs are just unknown. The cost for the Lexus or the Cadillac is around 80k USD, the cost of the Phantom seats is around 8k (found a set for sale for that amount), but the cost of the body, labor, electronics, and other unforeseen costs is unknown. If you were to use my build, I would probability put away around 500k USD for this project, but I would have to be prepared to spend more.
Let me know what you think of this kind of article! I had a ton of fun doing this and would love to do more.