AUTO art is the most prolific model manufacturer in the 1/18 space today. They release more new molds in a quarter than others do in a year. And they do so with good production quality; typically their efforts are best in class...and getting better.
But for all the depth and breadth that comes with this diligent attention to new molds, there are a few glaring chasms in their portfolio. For example you won’t find a single Ferrari, no major open wheel race cars and not a single pre-WW II model.
They can now check that last one off the list, having created a stunning version of Jean Bugatti’s masterpiece, the Type 57SC Atlantic. Three coupes were built in the SC version and this was the tallest of the three and best known for it’s “Aerolithe” style rivets at the body panel joins, so named after an aviation-infused style concept Bugatti originally displayed at Geneva in 1935. This design cue is especially conspicuous on the unique dorsal fin.
AUTO art isn’t specific as to which Type 57SC Atlantic this example is supposed to represent, but given the production year and styling, it seems to align with the legendary “Pope” version that premiered in 1938 in the Bugatti sapphire blue and later re-created in immaculate black, inside and out, by Ralph Lauren. But maybe not; more on this confusion in a moment.
The Bugatti 57SC has, not surprisingly, been shown in museums worldwide as an object d’art. As is typical in a Bugatti, the carriage work is charismatic and the engines were creations that were as much about purpose as they were about speed, comfort and power.
To highlight this confluence, let’s start somewhere atypical for a model review; the cockpit. The dashboard wood inlay, instruments and control elements are exquisitely modeled. The remarkable door hinges open to display moveable metal trimmed seats and door interiors covered in leather. As is typical in AUTO art models, high quality plastics are mixed with the metals and other media in such a way that the model looks contextually accurate and rich.
All Bugatti Atlantic SC did originally have saddle tan interiors, however, the Lauren car, is remade in black. Now there is an advantage to having a lighter color; you can see the detail with more clarity. And the saddle and black combination is no doubt handsome. What this could enable AUTO art to do, if it chooses, is easily transform this mold to represent the 1936 version shown at Pebble Beach in 2009, which also has less blacked out styling cues on the exterior.
The liquid black exterior of this Bugatti 57SC is amazing in terms of shape and structure with highlights including many of the 50 photo-etched part; I prefer the disc wheels on this model to the wire spoke wheels of the original blue version - they seem more appropriate for the streamlined tear-drop styled body work.
There is a fully functional suspension, a thoughtful inclusion, but AUTO art remains unconvinced that collectors really want the extra expense in providing removable wheels and tires - but they have included a full spare. The chromed trim and rocker covers accent the rich ebony paint and the four chrome-tipped exhaust tips that were recently echoed on the Galiber concept are yet another unique Bugatti design note.
The gigantic double-winged hood parts to show the huge supercharged (hence the “SC” suffix) 200hp straight eight with convincing plumbing, wires and cables. The machined pattern on the firewall though seems a bit overdone.
There will be those that compare this model to the the CMC, and I suspect when they do so they will be needlessly disappointed. The CMC, which I own in blue, is a breathtaking model, with a gazillion parts and the price to go with it. The AUTO art Bugatti 57SC can be had for at least one less Benjamin, and has 584 parts, 230 of which are metal including 50 that arephoto-etched - all of which are documented in photographic detail in the included booklet.
Where the CMC truly separates itself is in the accuracy of representation to the Lauren restoration; it has the specific EX-K6 license plate and the clubby black interior.
So, the devil truly is in the details and on the shelf together, two feet away, they look like they could have come from the same factory. And that is more than good enough in my book, because on a shelf by itself it is the very definition of “presence”.
So, good work boys. Now, let’s see what you can do with something a little ACD...