|This car started life as a type 35 Bugatti Grand Prix car. O.A. Phillips raced it in this form until he acquired this V8 Miller engine. This engine came from a Miller 4-wheel drive car that raced in Germany and blew up, throwing bits into the stands where Adolph Hitler was watching. Hitler was missed by inches. O.A. Phillips then swapped this Miller engine in and raced at Indianapolis in 1941 and 1946.|
|Overton Axton 'Bunny' Phillips was born in Iowa in 1908 and became a resident of Los Angeles a short time later. He received two years of education on the East Coast before returning to Southern California in 1925, where he took up employment with race-car builder, Harry Miller. Two years later, Phillips purchased his first Bugatti, a Type 22/30 2-liter eight and began his racing career with it, most notably achieving a speed of 198 kph (124.6 mph at Muroc Dry Lake in California.|
In 1930, Phillips and Frank Scully opened Bugatti Service at 1222 North Western Avenue in Hollywood. They became the first authorized Bugatti agent in the United States.
In 1928, Bugatti Type 35 wearing chassis number 4748 was purchased by Colonel Lee Scott of the Hall-Scott Engine Company in Oakland, California. Ownership changed in 1931 to Frank Spring, general manager of Walter M. Murphy Coachbuilders of Pasadena, California. In 1931, Spring left Murphy to take a position as director of styling for Hudson. A year later, ownership of the Bugatti passed to Overton A. Phillips.
In 1936, Phillips raced with this car in the Vanderbilt Cup against some of the best road-racing drivers in the world. After surviving a serious accident in J.L. Mannix's Duesenberg during practice for the 1937 Indianapolis 500, Phillips closed Bugatti Service and went to work for Dick Loynes. He used patterns Loynes had purchased at Miller's bankruptcy sale to create his own Miller V8 engine based on two 151 Marine blocks. The powerplant was installed into the chassis of his Bugatti Type 35. He then hand-hammered his own lightweight aluminum body for the Bugatti.
The work on the Type 35 was completed in time to participate in part of the 1940 season in which the Phillips combination finished 12th in the AAA Championship. The following year, Phillips and his racing special contested Indy where they qualified 26th at a speed of 116.298 mph. When the checkered flag dropped, signaling the end of the race, the Bugatti/Miller special was in 13th place. At the end of the season, Phillips was 8th in the AAA National Championship.
During the Second World War, Phillips did contract work for Southern California Defense Contractors. The Bugatti/Miller had been put into storage; at the close of the War, the car was prepared for the 1946 Indy 500. Hal Robson qualified the car in 23rd position with a speed of 121.466 mph. Unfortunately, while the car was in 7th place, it dropped a conrod and was forced to DNF. After the race, the car returned to Phillips shop in Van Nuys where it remained until being purchased by Dr. Peter Williamson in 1994.
A short time after acquiring the car, Dr. Williamson commissioned a comprehensive restoration from Jim Stanberg at High Mountain Classics. Upon completion, Williamson drove the Phillips-Miller Special in a number of events, including the Colorado Grand.
The cars frame, front axle and springs are from a Bugatti Type 35. It has a Ford truck 4-speed transmission and Ford rear axle suspended from Bugatti reversed quarter-elliptical leaf springs. In the front are lever-friction shocks with friction and hydraulic shocks in the rear. Hydraulic drum brakes are at all corners. Power comes from the Miller V8 engine breathing through a set of sequentially numbered Miller carburetors.
The car is finished in dark red with matching leather seating.