1935 Bugatti T57 Cabriolet Build; Part 1

We recently did an article on Chalfant Motor Company  and told you about the work James (Jim) Hery has been doing to bring back some valuable cars from the 20s and 30s. He continues to use his artistic mechanical skills to save and create some of the World’s most beautiful cars. He is truly an artist and master of metal shapes. James is not only restoring a 1935 Bugatti T57 Cabriolet, he is also constructing a prototype plus five exact replicas of the car! The first one, the prototype, will not be exact; it will feature a Jaguar engine. James hopes to sell the prototype to help fund the construction of the five exact replicas with the correct Bugatti engines. All of the cars will be for sale!

James has agreed to allow us to follow along and show you his progress on the prototype. We won’t go into a lot of descriptive detail but will provide you with some interesting photos of the process.

The first step was for James to build a massive table on which to construct the frame. Its weight and size ensure that the jig for the frames will be precise.

Here is the first series of photos on the construction of the Bugatti’s frame.

The frame table/jig was a massive undertaking on its own. This is the start of the frames construction.

A real Bugatti T57 Cabriolet is used as a template for the recreation.

Nearly every part on the car must be fabricated or machined in Jame’s shop. There is no catalog to order parts from like there is for Mustangs and Camaros!


A certain amount of mock up is required during the build to always ensure everything will fit upon completion. Plus seeing a radiator in place helps with motivation and visions of what is to come.

It isn’t complete but the structure is all there and the workmanship is astounding!

Next up we will bring you the progress of the skeleton for the the body.

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About the Author: I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check our our www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com page) As long as it has four wheels on it I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife Katriana is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out with our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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