Overton Axton 'Bunny' Phillips was born in Iowa in 1908 and became a resident of Los Angeles a short time later. He received two years of education on the East Coast before returning to Southern California in 1925, where he took up employment with race-car builder, Harry Miller. Two years later, Phillips purchased his first Bugatti, a Type 22/30 2-liter eight and began his racing career with it, most notably achieving a speed of 198 kph (124.6 mph at Muroc Dry Lake in California.
In 1930, Phillips and Frank Scully opened Bugatti Service at 1222 North Western Avenue in Hollywood. They became the first authorized Bugatti agent in the United States.
In 1928, Bugatti Type 35 wearing chassis number 4748 was purchased by Colonel Lee Scott of the Hall-Scott Engine Company in Oakland, California. Ownership changed in 1931 to Frank Spring, general manager of Walter M. Murphy Coachbuilders of Pasadena, California. In 1931, Spring left Murphy to take a position as director of styling for Hudson. A year later, ownership of the Bugatti passed to Overton A. Phillips.
In 1936, Phillips raced with this car in the Vanderbilt Cup against some of the best road-racing drivers in the world. After surviving a serious accident in J.L. Mannix's Duesenberg during practice for the 1937 Indianapolis 500, Phillips closed Bugatti Service and went to work for Dick Loynes. He used patterns Loynes had purchased at Miller's bankruptcy sale to create his own Miller V8 engine based on two 151 Marine blocks. The powerplant was installed into the chassis of his Bugatti Type 35. He then hand-hammered his own lightweight aluminum body for the Bugatti.
The work on the Type 35 was completed in time to participate in part of the 1940 season in which the Phillips combination finished 12th in the AAA Championship. The following year, Phillips and his racing special contested Indy where they qualified 26th at a speed of 116.298 mph. When the checkered flag dropped, signaling the end of the race, the Bugatti/Miller special was in 13th place. At the end of the season, Phillips was 8th in the AAA National Championship.
During the Second World War, Phillips did contract work for Southern California Defense Contractors. The Bugatti/Miller had been put into storage; at the close of the War, the car was prepared for the 1946 Indy 500. Hal Robson qualified the car in 23rd position with a speed of 121.466 mph. Unfortunately, while the car was in 7th place, it dropped a conrod and was forced to DNF. After the race, the car returned to Phillips shop in Van Nuys where it remained until being purchased by Dr. Peter Williamson in 1994.
A short time after acquiring the car, Dr. Williamson commissioned a comprehensive restoration from Jim Stanberg at High Mountain Classics. Upon completion, Williamson drove the Phillips-Miller Special in a number of events, including the Colorado Grand.
The cars frame, front axle and springs are from a Bugatti Type 35. It has a Ford truck 4-speed transmission and Ford rear axle suspended from Bugatti reversed quarter-elliptical leaf springs. In the front are lever-friction shocks with friction and hydraulic shocks in the rear. Hydraulic drum brakes are at all corners. Power comes from the Miller V8 engine breathing through a set of sequentially numbered Miller carburetors.
The car is finished in dark red with matching leather seating.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2013
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 appeared 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 | Sep 2006