Chassis Num: 44769
Engine Num: 502
Sold for $363,000 at 2013 Bonhams
As the 1930s came into view, Ettore Bugatti had established a reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on track or road. With the help of the world's greatest racing drivers, the cars enjoyed countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory's products.
The Type 44 was introduced in 1927 and remained in production until 1931. Their introduction was made at the October 1927 Paris Auto Salon and replaced the 2-liter Type 38. It shared much of the Type 38's chassis, although strengthened to handle the increased power output.
Over the production lifespan, 1,095 example were built, of which around 10 percent are believed to survive today. Power was from the revised single-overhead-cam straight eight engine.
Ettore Bugatti remained committed to his single-cam design, only adopting the double-overhead-camshaft method of valve actuation on the Type 50 of 1930, after considerable persuasion by his eldest son, Jean. The Type 44's twin-block, three-valves-per-cylinder, single-plug engine displaced 2991cc and offered approximately 80 horsepower.
The engine received an entirely new camshaft, one with nine plain bearings for the eight cylinders, thus becoming one of the most reliable and solid crankshaft Bugatti ever produced. Enhancing the performance, the cars were given a four-speed gate-change gearbox and large drum brakes.
This particular example was completed at the Molsheim Bugatti works in October of 1928. The new type 44 was delivered to Parisian Bugatti agent, Stand-Auto, in December that same year. It was offered with a considerable price tag of 44,450 French Francs to its first owner. The car remained in Europe, where it was later owned by a Mr. Buson. Mr Buson would later sell the car onto Bugatti expert, Jean De Dobbeleer.
The current owner acquired the car in 1960. The car was shipped by boat to the United States that year, and has remained here ever since. At the time, the car was barely running and was in need of restoration. Soon a nearly 5 decade long restoration process began. The car was basically untouched, having all original chassis parts with original consistent factory numbering throughout. The engine was rebuilt during the same period, including restoring the crankshaft back to standard bearing size, rebuilding of the rod and main bearings as well as the oil pump. The distributor was replaced with a Vertex magneto for reliability. During the mid-1990s, the bodywork was removed and a frame-up rebuild of the chassis was undertaken. Going down to bare metal, any rusted areas were carefully replaced with new metal, and the wood was refurbished as needed.
Final assembly began in 2004, installing a new cherry wood dash, a set of matched Jaeger instruments purchased in Paris in 1966, and a new wiring harness from Rhode Island Wiring Co. In September of 2007, the car had its maiden outing at the American Bugatti Club Grand Prix and Rally at Watkins Glen, NY.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2013
The Bugatti Type 44 was produced from 1927 through 1930 with over 1000 examples being created; by far the largest of the Bugatti 'Type' variants. The Type 44 sat atop the chassis used in the Type 38 but was given a newly developed 3-liter eight-cylinder engine capable of producing 80 horsepower. The running gear and components were borrowed from the Type 38, 40, and 43. It was suspended in place with semi-elliptic leaf springs.
The Type 44 marked Bugatti's first attempt at creating a true touring car with all of the creature comforts such as a powerful engine coupled to a chassis that was smooth and quiet. Unlike its predecessor, the Type 38, the Type 44 was a refined automobile. Coachbuilders such as Kellner, James young, Weymann, Gerber, Gangloff, and Graber were given opportunities to outfit the Type 44 in various body styles; it quickly became a favorite for many of these builders.
The engine was created from two cast iron four-cylinder blocks. A single overhead camshaft operated two inlet and one exhaust valve per cylinder. The engine was matted to a four-speed manual center gate transmission that provided power to the rear wheels.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006
The Bugatti Type 44 was introduced in late 1927. It was fitted with a three-liter, 80 horsepower eight-cylinder engine and served as a replacement for the two-liter 38. The Type 44 sold in great numbers and would become Bugatti's most popular and successful touring car. Between 1927 to 1930, there were 1095 examples produced.
The engine was a departure from traditional Bugatti practices, which were to form the engine from two blocks of four-cylinders. The Type 44 still had two block but they were separated on the aluminum crankcase by the shaft, and bevel-gear drives for the camshaft and engine auxiliaries. This two-piece crankshaft was given a total of nine main bearings. Instead of using roller bearings, Bugatti used poured plain bearings, which is ideal for this medium-speed touring application. Additionally, the plain bearings were less expensive and they were much quieter than rollers. The early Type 44 engines were given jet lubrication. This was later changed to full-pressure lubrication of the main bearings.
The frame was new but continued Bugatti's use of live-axles and leaf-spring layout for the suspension. There was a four-speed transmission which was separated from the engine.
Depending on the coachwork, the Bugatti Type 44's were capable of speeds in excess of 80 mph, and could maintain a comfortable cruising speed of 65 mph all day.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2009