by Simon Haldy


Walter Köng had a very interesting life. In fact he was more a designer than a coachbuilder. He began his career working for the famous Italian coachbuilders Cesare Sala in Milan. In 1927 he moved to Paris where he went to work for coachbuilder Louis Gallé. At the age of barely 20 he became their chief designer and was responsible for many of Gallé’s luxury bodies on expensive chassis. Among his designs was a wonderful Bugatti Type 38 Tourer, but sadly this one was never built. In the late 1920s Köng went to work for the Chrysler Corporation in the USA and later was employed by Packard as designer. He left Packard in 1935, on the death of his father, and returned to Switzerland to carry on the family business.

In the second half of the 1930s Köng built cabriolet bodies on mostly French and English chassis. His style was a mix of German influence and typical English elegance. Köng’s most remarkable bodies were a very impressive Mercedes 540K, which resembles the Mercedes works A Cabriolet, some very nice 4 1Ž4 litre Bentleys, bodied in a classy but sporty way, and a very special 2 1Ž2 litre Riley, which was exhibited at the 1949 Geneva Auto Salon.

As for Bugattis, Köng clothed only very few. He designed and made some alterations to a Gangloff bodied T57S Atalante (57383), which focused on the front wings and on the tail, which he stretched a bit. He also made alterations to the roof of a Jean Bugatti designed T55 coupé (55216).

In the last decades before he closed his business, Walter Köng restored many car for collectors, including work for the Merceds-Benz museum. He built several completely new bodies for collectors along Gangloff designs on original Bugatti frames. For instance, he built a new replica Fiacre Coupé body for that famous Bugatti collector Charles Renaud. This was based on chassis 46170, a former Vanvooren sedan. He also built a copy of an Atalante body on a T57 chassis that had formerly been a Ventoux (57642). Just for the record, Charles Renaud was the greatest Köng Bugatti collector; he owned three of them!

Gebrüder BEUTLER & CIE, Thun (1943-1987)

Beutler Coachbuilding was established by Ernst and Fritz Beutler during WWII in Thun near Bern. Previously the Beutler brothers had worked for Worblaufen, Tüscher and Graber as coachbuilder apprentices (see part 2). Despite their sometimes ornate Baroque style Beutler designs were quite fashionable during the 1950s. They clothed mostly sporting and prestigious cars such as Jaguars, Lancias, Mercedes, Porsches, Alfas, and one Bugatti.

This particular Bugatti is a 1931 T49 (49427), born as a 4 to 5 seat drophead coupé. In 1947 its owner commissioned Beutler of Thun to have his car updated. The result was a semi pontoon style cabriolet, clearly inspired by Henri Chapron’s work. Furthermore the car had been converted at the same time to a Cotal electromagnetic gearbox. Chassis 49427 left Switzerland in 1958 for the USA.

CHIATTONE  (1917-?)

Founded by a certain Signore Chiattone in Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland) Chiattone specialized in building ambulances and utility vehicles based on Mercedes frames. In 1930 Chiattone deviated from this practice when he clothed a Bugatti T49 (49428) as a 4 seat drophead coupé in the style of Gangloff. This Bugatti is the only one ever coachbuilt by Chiattone. During its complete restoration in the 80’s this car had its fabric trunk modified to a larger steel one.

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