1927 Bugatti Type 35C

1927 Bugatti Type 35C 1927 Bugatti Type 35C 1927 Bugatti Type 35C Boattail
Chassis #: 4889
Engine # 152
Sold for $2,585,000 at 2006 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction.
Ettore Bugatti's first motorized creation was the twin-engined Prinetti and Stucchi tricycle of 1898. His creations continued to grow in design and sophistication which led to many successful outings at the racing circuit. It was not uncommon to see the majority of racers on the starting grid of many major races, driving a Bugatti automobile. The machines were lightweight with excellent performance and handling. They were capable of taking mediocre drivers to the front of the pack.

The true genius of the vehicle lay under the long and graceful bonnet. Bugatti had began working on a eight-cylinder engine in 1912. It was comprised of a pair of eight-valve Type 13 engines mounted in tandem. During World War I, Bugatti continued work on the eight-cylinder unit, along with the U-16 aircraft engines. At the close of World War I, the eight-cylinder unit was ready and made its appearance in the Type 28 of 1921. The Type 28 three-liter version never entered into serious production; tt was in a road-going, luxury vehicle that personified the emerging abilities of the Bugatti Company. The features of the vehicle and the technology of the engine would make its way into other vehicles created by Bugatti.

The Type 28 engine had a single overhead camshaft arrangement, which moved three valves per cylinder through finger followers. The two-liter version of the Type 28 was used to power the first Bugatti Grand Prix car, the Type 30 of 1922. This car brought with it another advanced feature, the roller crankshaft bearings. On the Indianapolis 500 race the Bugatti Type 30 racers, three had been entered, were easily distinguishable from the rest of the pack by their horseshoe-shaped radiator. This design feature would become a trademark of the legendary Bugatti Grand Prix racing machines.

For the 1923 French Grand Prix, Bugatti fielded their next evolution of racing machines: the Type 32. These vehicles became known as the 'Tanks' due to their fully enveloped bodies. There was little success by the team with the Type 32 which meant Bugatti sales began to slip. Part of the vehicles shortcomings were the brakes. Mechanical brakes were used in the rear and hydraulic brakes at the front; this was a first for the Bugatti marque. This combination proved to be unsuccessful so the company abandoned the arrangement and would not appear on another Buggati vehicle until the Type 57 in 1938.

The 1923 season had been a tough lesson for the company. Success on the racing circuit drove sales and daring, unproven technology and designs could lead to unsatisfactory results and ultimately, the demise of the company. For the 1924 season, the company dug deep into their past to build a new racer, the Type 35, that embodied the skill, talent, and experience of the Buggati Company. It was unveiled to the public at the 1924 Paris Motor Show and bore the trademark shoe-shaped radiator grill. The graceful and elegant body completely enclosed the vehicles frame. The only item exposed was the engine's sump which was done to improve cooling. Vents were throughout the body of the vehicle which, too, promoted cooling. The suspension was comprised of quarter-elliptical leaf springs attached to eight-spoke cast aluminum wheels and cast-iron-lined brake drums. The aluminum wheels were lightweight and had excellent brake cooling properties.

The engine that lay under the bonnet was similar to the units found in the Type 30 and 32 but greatly improved. The engine had an intricate five-main bearing crankshaft with roller main and connecting rod bearings. There were two four-cylinder blocks and integral cylinder heads that were enclosed in a split aluminum crankcase. There was one exhaust valve and two intake valves that were actuated by the overhead camshaft through finger followers. With the aid of two Zenith carburetors, the naturally aspirated engine produced 90 horsepower. The use of lightweight construction used throughout the engine and body married with excellent weight distribution and a potent engine made the Type 35 an excellent and superior racer for its time.

The cars inaugural racing appearance was at the 1924 French Grand Prix. The cars were poised to capture the checkered flag but a defective back of tires had the cars retiring prematurely. Later in the season, at the Sebastian Grand Prix in Spain, the true potential of the cars were realized which did much to stimulate sales. In total, there were around 139 examples of the Type 35A created over a three-year span. The 35A had three-main bearings and coil ignition and were intended as economical road going cars that could also be used in sporting events. Around 100 examples of the naturally aspirated Type 35 Grand Prix were constructed.

As the ingenuity of the Bugatti vehicles evolved, so did the creativity of the competition. To remain competitive, many marque's shifted to the use of superchargers. Bugatti followed by developing a Roots-Type supercharger to compliment the Type 35. The design was courtesy of an Italian engineer named Edmund Moglia. The blower was mounted on the lower right side of the engine and driven by bevel gears and a short shaft. A pop-off valve could be seen protruding through the right side of the hood. The result was the Type 35C which was capable of producing nearly 130 horsepower.

The Bugatti Type 35C with chassis number 4889 and 4890 are believed to have been two of the three factory entries in the 1927 San Sebastian Grand Prix. Chassis number 4889 also carries the road designation 5033 J4 which was registered on July 11th of 1927. It was given the road registration due to Ettor Bugatti's practice of driving the vehicle to and from the race.

Chassis number 4889 was offered for sale at the 2006 Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach where the car was one of the highlights of the show and estimated to sell for a very high price.

After the car was raced at the San Sebastian Grand Prix, it was left with the local agent to be sold. Ettore Bugatti often left the race winning car with the local Bugatti sales agent to help stimulate sales. This suggests further that 4889 was one of the cars raced at the San Sebastian Grand Prix and may have been the race winning car.

The early history of the vehicle is not fully known. It is believed to have been in the ownership of Barcelona jeweler who may have raced it in Spain. It was later hidden behind a permanent wall to keep it from being confiscated during the Spanish Civil War. Years later, it was given a modest mechanical and cosmetic improvement before being sold to a US citizen. The car was placed on the SS Excelsior from Barcelona to Jersey City on October 10th of 1961. Ownership later passed to Upshur, a Bugatti enthusiast and owner of several important Bugatti vehicles. It remained in his possession for four decades and until his death.

This very significant and well documented Bugatti is considered to be one of the most original of its kind in existence. At the Gooding & Company auction, it sat elevated high above the rest of the vehicles during the viewing days. A circle of cars had been placed around this vehicle and was easily discernable as a very special vehicle. On auction day, the bidders solidified this cars importance by driving the cost of the winning bid to $2,585,000.

By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
1927 Bugatti Type 35C 1927 Bugatti Type 35C 1927 Bugatti Type 35C Boattail
Chassis #: 4833
On the one hand, the Type 35 Bugatti is said to have won over 1950 major European races during the production run from 1924 to mid-1930. On the other hand, the series totaled over three hundred thirty cars, which were sold to first-tier drivers including Costantini, Dubonnet, Goux, Junek, Chiron, Dreyfus and Nice, and many lesser racing drivers, as well as scores of non-racing of privilege, with a taste for beautifully engineered machinery.

This car, Type 35C. No. 4833 was sold off the Paris showroom floor in May of 1927. Its present owner acquired it from Nigel and Pam Arnold-Forster of Swindon, UK, in 1986. It is believed to have come previously from Uwe Hucke, Nettlestadt, Germany and prior to that, from the collection of Andres Binda, Nice, France.

The car's complex roller crank showed signs of cage wear and was replaced in kind, in 1990 by its present owner. It has also been fitted with a correct Bosch electric started, which obviates hand cranking --- a welcome change on cold mornings.

Short of full provenance but brimming with patina, it has been raced by its present owner at Monterey and other U.S. locations since early 1987.

Though it is personal preference, the Bugatti Type 35 is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful pre-war racer from the legendary Bugatti Company. Its beauty is matched by its accomplishments, being one of the most successful pre-war racer winning over 1000 races and capturing the 1926 Grand Prix World Championship with 351 races. During that two year period it also claimed 47 records. From 1925 through 1929 the Bugatti Type 35 dominated the Targa Florio.

The first Bugatti Type 35 was introduced on August 3rd, 1924. It was powered by a modified engine used in the Type 29. The 3-valve 2-liter overhead cam straight-eight engine had five main bearings and producing around 90 horsepower. The suspension was comprised of leaf springs attached to solid axles. Stopping power was provided by drum brakes in the rear operated by cables which could be seen on the exterior of the vehicle. In total, there were 96 examples produced.

There were multiple versions of the Type 35 which were specifically designed to accommodate many types of racers. The Type 35A, nicknamed 'Tecla' was an inexpensive version of the Type 35 and made its first appearance in May of 1925. Its nickname was given by the public after a maker of imitation jewelry. The engine was a reliable unit borrowed from the Type 30. It used three bearings, had smaller valves, coil ignition, and produced less horsepower than its Type 35 sibling. In total 139 examples of the Type 35A were created.

Though Ettore Bugatti favored naturally aspirated engines, the Type 35C was given a Roots-Type supercharger which boosted power to an impressive 128 horsepower. There were only fifty examples created with many providing historic victories for the company. The Type 35C won the 1928 and 1930 French Grand Prix, undoubtedly their greatest accomplishments.

The Bugatti Type 35T, commonly known as the Targa Florio, was specially prepared for the Targa Florio race. There were only thirteen examples produced. It was powered by a 2.3 liter engine. When Grand Prix rules changed stating that engine displacement sizes of up to 2 liters were required, the Type 35T became obsolete and production ceased.

The Bugatti Type 35B was introduced in 1927 and was the final iteration of the Type 35 series. The name Type 35TC was pondered since it shared the same 2.3 liter engine as the Type 35T and a supercharger just like the Type 35C. The engine produced an astonishing 138 horsepower, by far the most of the Type 35 series. In total there were only 45 examples produced with one of their greatest accomplishments being the victory at the 1929 French Grand Prix.

The Type 39 was produced alongside the Type 35B but adhered to current Grand Prix regulations which limited engine capacities to 1.5 liters. Only ten examples of the Type 39 were produced.

By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2011

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