The frame of this Bugatti Type 59 dates from the first batch of 1933 works cars and chassis. Works drivers included Dreyfus, Brivio, Benoist, Wimille, and, as an independent, Tazio Nuvolari. Initially campaigned in 2.8 liter form, the Type 59 was subsequently enlarged to 3.3 liters.
The engine is an 8 cylinder, 3.3 liter unit with a single Roots type supercharger fed by two down draft Zenith carburetors, and equipped with twin overhead camshaft engine. Bugatti claimed 250 BHP for the 3.3 liter.
Drive Train: Rear axle has double reduction gears to allow prop shaft and engine centerline to be dropped, the gearbox, being contained in a casting straddling the chassis frame.
Springs: Reverse quarter elliptics at rear. The front axle is hollow, split in the center and joined by a collar, brake torque being dealt with by radius arms connected to DeRam shock absorbers.
Wheels: A radical approach was a new type of wire wheel where all spokes are radial, the torque taken by gear teeth round the periphery of the brake drum engaging other teeth on the rim.
Weight: (all oil and coolant fluids with 5 imperial gallons of fuel): 1982 pounds
The Bugatti Type 59 was a continuation and the final iteration of Ettore Bugatti's Grand Prix racing cars and only a few were ever created. Between 1933 and 1936, only six or seven examples were built. They were powered by an eight cylinder engine that originally had a bore and stroke that measured 72 x 88mm respectively in 1933, but was enlarged to 72 x 100 the following year. With the help of two Zenith carburetors and a roots-type supercharger, the cars were able to produce an impressive 250 horsepower.
There was a four-speed manual gearbox with an external gear change lever; braking was on all four wheels via a cable.
The chassis was a modified Type 54 unit which had the engine positioned lower in the bay to improve upon the center of gravity. To keep the cars competitive and to reduce their overall weight, holes were drilled into the chassis. This also shortened the cars lifespan as it weakened the rigidity of the chassis. The cars rode on the signature piano wire wheels.
Four Bugatti T59 team cars, powered by a 2.8-liter engine at the time, were ready in time for the Spanish Grand Prix at San Sebastian on September 24th of 1933. The car driven by Rene Dreyfus finished in sixth position.
The 3.3-liter version made its racing debut at the French Grand Prix in 1934. The cars had little success, were expensive to maintain, and lacked the necessary reliability required to be competitive. Still, they were able to capture some important victories with drivers such as Dreyfus, Wimille, Benoist, and Lewis at the wheel. IN 1934 the T59 won the De Belgique and the d'Algiers Grand Prix. Two Grand Prix victories followed in 1935 and again in 1936. In 1937, only on GP victory was scored.
At the end of the 1934 season, Bugatti managed to sell four of the cars to the British privateers Earl Howe, Charlie Martin, Lindsey Eccles, and Brian Lewis.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2008