1931 Bugatti Type 44

Roadster
This Bugatti Type 44 was originally prepared for the 1936 24 Hours of Le Mans; however, the event was cancelled due to a worker's strike. Little else is know of the car's pre-World War II history. It went into storage during the war and re-emerged in 1950, in Paris, where it was purchased by JJS Sherman, an American studying at the Sorbonne. The car returned to the United States with Sherman, and its racing career continued with victories at Bridgehampton in 1958 and 1959, as well as a second place finish in 1960 and a third in 1961. During the years to follow the ownership passed to David van Schaick, David Donaghue, and its current owner, three-time Le Mans LMP2 class winner Bill Binnie. The car underwent a full restoration in 1999 at DL George Coachworks. The car features a three-liter, eight-cylinder engine with overhead cam and carburetor, a four-speed transmission, and retains all of its original coachwork.
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

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