A virtual magazine for a true passion!

Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 16, Issue 3

Rebuilding a Bugatti body

Jaap Horst

Imagine a combination of art of shaping sheet metal by hand and high-tech CAD/CAM tools. Edouard is doing it and on a Bugatti !

Edouard is a French master metalshaper who has been living in the USA for almost 2 years. He was commissioned to rebuild the 4 fenders of a Type 57 from 1937 – chassis 57156 – within Alan Taylor Company Inc. based in Southern California. Because the owner of this car wanted get the fenders longer than the original ones, Edouard could use all his high skills at the same time of both metalshaping and Computer Aid Design.

Edouard has been trained from the French master metalshapers within the “Les Compagnons du Devoir”, an ancestral school. This French school teaches a very prestigious craftsmanship and used to provide craftsmen for quite a few shops like Chapron, Labourdette, Figoni & Falaschi. “For me, it was essential to know the old-school way but not enough. Being in a computer era, it knew that the CAD (3D conception + reverse engineering) knowledge could give me more. That why after those 4 years, I went on to join a Computer Aid Design studio.

After all my apprenticeship, I opened my own shop in Cavaillon, France and worked for myself from 2005 to 2009. During that time, I applied all my skills - old school with the computer tool – that became my working method. That's why today, I can explain the importance of the association of these 2 items.

Computer tool
It allows me to get a 3 dimensional picture of the initial state of the car I'm working on. It makes me capable to design the station buck faster and cheaper with an amazing accuracy (0.004 inch – 0,1mm).

Old-school way
Manual realization respecting the way the old masters used to build/shape the car bodies. Aim : to imitate the old gestures.

When I create a piece of body for an antique car, I associate these 2 basics. That way, I can :

His work garners attention. He recently has been featured into the Timothy Barton's book The Lost Sheet Metal Machines #3 that was realized in March 2011. Mr Barton says he's the future of the metalshaping and that he might be the only metalshaper in the USA whom works this way.

Until now his talents and skills were formally recognized by the gain of 2 French golden medals (2003), 1 French prize (2006), 1 American trophee (2011) and 3 Best of Show awards (2011 Rancho Palos Verdes, 2011 Del Mar and 2011 Santa Barbara Concours d'Elegance in California). In the photo serie below, the compination is explained.

Don't hesitate to visit the Edouard's Facebook page to follow the evolution of this Bugatti rebuilding : www.facebook.com/frenchmastermetalshaper

In the photo series below, the method is explained.

The car as received.

Scanning raw outcome of the car. This is a *.stl file you import in your 3D conception software.

3D Computer Aid Design picture. On top of the fenders, the body was remodeled in order to get an overall view. This way, I had a more realistic view of the entire car. Notice that the wheel can be turned to check the clearance.

The left rear fender station buck on the computer screen.

Here are all the sections cut by laser out of steel. Ready for assembly.

Station buck assembled.

The station buck on the car recovered by paper in order to simulate the shape of the fender.

Left rear fender in progress. Made out of aluminum, on the customer's requests. Tools used : mostly the English Wheel.

The left rear fender completed and polished.

Right rear fender in construction. Here, one of the most complicated shapes : a reverse compound shape.

Right rear fender still in construction.

Edouard shaping a piece on a French power hammer invented during the '20s named “Martinet”.

Right rear fender with the skirt cut out.

Rear fenders done and polished.

Back to the Bugatti revue

Vive La Marque !!