Ettore Bugatti (1881-1947) produced his first car design in 1899. He set up his own factory at Molsheim in Alsace in 1910. From then until his death in 1947, he produced a fantastic, prolific output of racing, sports and grand touring cars, as well as aero engines, railcars and boats of most original design. Bugatti cars were extremely successful in racing, with many thousands of victories in just a few decades. The company's success culminated with driver Jean-Pierre Wimille winning the 24 Hours of LeMans twice (in 1937 with Robert Benoist and 1939 with Pierre Veyron).
The Type 40 of 1926, produced thru 1930, returned to the roots of Bugatti's early success with a 1496cc, 4-cylinder car. The Type 40 offered very reasonable performance from its race-bred, three valves per cylinder engine together with practicality and good fuel economy. The car's durability was proven by successfully crossing the Sahara in 1929. About 830 were built.
The chassis of 40832 was made by Bugatti in 1924 and shipped to Prague, Czechoslovakia where Thomas made a body for it. It has had five owners. The current owner had it from 1981 to 1985 and then again from 1989 to the present. It has had extensive restoration in the last two years in an effort to return it to the original state when it left the factory and coachbuilder.
The Bugatti Type 40 was powered by a four-cylinder engine that produced an impressive amount of horsepower, considering the vehicles size and weight. It was a detuned version of the engine found in the Type 37 and initially featured a splash lubrication system to its five-bearing crankshaft. Later, a full-pressure lubrication system would become standard. The engines had 12 valves, twin Weber carburetors, coil ignition and produced around 70 horsepower. In traditional Bugatti fashion, the cylinder block and head were in the form of a single casting. The three-valve heads had two inlets each and a single large exhaust valve. They was mated to a four-speed manual gearbox with center change. The suspension was comprised of a beam front axle on semi-elliptic springs, while in the rear was a live axle on reversed quarter-elliptic springs. Hartford-type friction shock absorbers were placed on all four corners, as were the drum brakes.
The Type 40's were entry level vehicles that had low-cost construction methods making them reasonable to produce and purchase. The were introduced in 1926 and served as a replacement for the touring versions of the 16-valve Brescia range. The Type 38, introduced at the same time as the Type 40, was a replacement for the Type 30. The Type 37 with its 1500cc engine replaced the racing version of the Brescia.
The standard bodystyle for the Type 40 was the four-seater coupe. When introduced, it used the wheelbase of the Type 23, which measured 2.55 meters. Bugatti created the rolling chassis and custom coachbuilders outfitted the vehicle with its bodywork.
Around 745 (some sources say as high as 900) examples of the Type 40 were produced, and 35 examples of the Type 40A constructed. The Type 40A had engines fitted from the Type 49.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007