AUTOart has embarked on a quest to raise the bar with many of the recent releases they’ve brought to collectors. This seems to be an effort to compete with historically higher quality and more detailed models by other companies like CMC. So many collectors cheered when AUTOart announced that they would be joining a couple of other manufacturers in releasing another 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe.
In the past we compared CMC and EXOTO, and many still chose EXOTO over CMC even with a $200 price difference. Many collectors find it hard to justify purchasing a CMC model when their usual price range is in AUTOart’s sub-$200 releases. However, they realize that they are getting an excellent quality model, which may contain more plastic parts and less exacting standards in craftsmanship than those in $300+ range. So it is interesting that AUTOart would release a model similar to that released by CMC, when there is only a $14 differential on a MSRP basis.
While the two 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic models may look identical, they are only very similar. There are many differences, some more apparent than others. For instance, the AUTO version features a blue stabilizing bar between the fenders, where as the CMC version features a chrome bar. Both feature dual chrome-backed sealed headlights, but the AUTOart version omits the chromed fender-topped turning signals and places black signals with orange lenses under the front fenders. Both feature an opening radiator cap, chrome grill, and red Bugatti grill badge, but the AUTOart version features rubber non-functional latches and black mesh vents on the sides of the engine bay doors. The CMC version, however, features functional steel latches and stainless mesh vents on the sides of the engine bay doors. The CMC version, which was meant to replicate a specific chassis number, features the license plate on the right fender.
Total part count is 789 parts according to the brochure, but their website indicates it only has 584 parts, so there is some discrepancy in this specification. I thought this might be due to the wire wheels featured on the blue version versus disc wheels on the black version. However, with an estimated 280 spokes for five wheels, the math doesn’t work between the conflicting part counts. Whichever part count is accurate, AUTOart’s brochure indicates these separate parts are metal and plastic, including photo-etched plates, metal wiring, screws, rivets, and nuts.
The top cabin air vents and those in front of the windshield along with the side windows are functional, but the top vents did not remain open on their own. When opened, you can see they feature mesh screens like those used for the side engine bay vents. The dual windshield wipers are secured to the base of the windshield, whereas the CMC version has the driver’s side wiper mounted above the windshield.
The 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic's unique opening doors feature a sliding arm in the base and functioning door handles that secure the doors in the closed position using a lever, which anchors around a tiny screw in the pillar. Be careful when operating these levers, as the hole holding in the screw of the passenger side broke on my sample so that it cannot properly secure the door in the closed position. However, with a little pressure, the door seems to remain closed on its own. The interior is nicely detailed in real leather in light tan as opposed to the darker brown leather interior of the CMC version. There are a few minor differences here, such as the position and style of the transmission and brake levers, but the dash is well appointed with many chromed dials and levers. The seatbacks move and while there are tracks for the passenger seat to move, I was unable to do this for fear of breaking it.
The undercarriage of both models is done well. The AUTOart version features a black painted frame and leaf springs whereas the CMC’s metal frame is blue and features stainless leaf springs and open undercarriage vents compared to the AUTOart’s molded lines.
Both feature body matching blue wire wheels. If I’ve read the brochure correctly, these are metal wire wheels. However, the AUTOart version has a plastic look to the wheels and they don’t seem as intricately detailed as CMC’s individually hand set metal wire wheels. The tires feature plain sidewall tires, which detract from the realism of the model compared to the Dunlop branded tires on the CMC version. The riveted seems, while they are metal according to AUTOart, are exceptionally thin and are fastened to the model at various anchor points on the fenders, roofline, and removable spare wheel top.
The 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic comes individually numbered with a numbered certificate of authenticity, a brochure detailing many of the features, parts, and a brief history of the car. The model comes securely fastened in a gray clamshell box with a blue outer box and the Bugatti logo stamped on the sides. AUTOart has announced that it will release three versions, this blue version with blue wire wheels, and another blue version with bare metal wire wheels, and a black version with disc wheels.
As much effort that went into this model, and given the price proximity to the CMC version, I would have liked for AUTOart to have put the extra effort into some of the details such as branded tires, functioning engine bay latches, and more metal parts.