The company that bore Italian-born Ettore Bugatti's surname was founded in 1909 in the then-German city of Molsheim, Alsace. Over the years the company would produce stunning automobiles that were renowned for their elegance, beauty, and racing prowess. Although Ettore was known to explore new technologies and construction methods, he was also known to be conservative. He experimented with aerodynamics and the use of lightweight metals like magnesium. However, he refused to adopt supercharging at first, and favored cable-operated brakes, even after hydraulics had been proven superior. Despite his need to cling to old technology, the Grand Prix cars remained relatively completive.
The final Bugatti race car of the 1930s was the Type 59, built for the 1934 season when the new '750 kg' weight restriction was implemented. During this time, the company was also producing the road going Bugatti Type 57. Instead of creating a new chassis for the TYpe 59 Grand Prix car, Bugatti used the one from the previous Grand Prix Car, the Type 54. The basis of the chassis was formed from a steel ladder frame and the engine was placed low in the frame to give it a better center of gravity. To reduce weight even further, a number of holes were drilled in the chassis. At all four corners were the signature piano wire wheels and brake drums operated by the tried-and-true (albeit archaic) cables.
Not surprising, the engine in the Type 59 was also the one found in the Type 57. The dual overhead camshaft eight-cylinder unit had a long crankshaft, six main bearings (five in the type 57), and cams driven by a set of helical-toothed gears. Bugatti had purchased two front-drive Miller 91 racing cars from Leon Duray, and then copied Harry Miller's dual overhead camshaft setup, first for his type 50. A similar design was used for the 3.3-liter straight eight engine that was installed in the new Type 57. The Type 59 was given a dry-sump lubrication system and a Roots-type supercharger. Initially, the engine displaced 2.8 liters and was soon enlarged to just under 3.3 liters.
The four-speed gearbox was placed between the engine and the rear axle. Due to the propeller-shaft traversing down the center of the car, the driver's seat was off-set to the right.
The lightweight aluminum body had the familiar horseshoe grille in the front, seating for two, and a boat tail rear end. Compared to past Bugattis, the Type 59 sat lower to the ground, due to its underslung rear suspension and dry-sump engine.
Following construction delays, the Type 59 made its racing debut near the end of the 1933 season at the Spanish Grand Prix in San Sebastian. Two cars were entered and they finished in a respectable fourth and sixth place. For the start of the 1934 season, a third car had been prepared and the list of drivers included Tazio Nuvolari, René Dreyfus and Jean-Pierre Wimille. By this point in history, the original 2.8-liter engine had been enlarged, resulting in an increase in power to 250 horsepower.
Notable finishes include a victory at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa by Dreyfus, after all the top contenders had retired due to crashes. Wimille finished first at the Algiers Grand Prix.
The Type 59 was a fast automobile but it had several challenges and Achilles Heels. First, Bugatti had to finance their racing program, while Italian and German manufactures were financed by the government who deemed it a national priority to win at all costs. The cable operated brakes on the Type 59 were among its biggest performance deficits, which made them outclassed by automobiles that embraced modern technologies.
At the end of the year, Ettore Bugatti withdrew from Grand Prix racing. Four Type 59s were sold to French and British racing privateers and it is believed that the factory retained at least two cars. They were later fitted with cycle-wing fenders and naturally aspirated engines and raced as sports cars in French events. They proved to be very successful including a one-two victory at their inaugural outing. by Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2019
Related Reading : Bugatti Type 59 History
The Bugatti Type 59 was a continuation and the final iteration of Ettore Bugattis 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.... Continue Reading >>
This Bugatti Type 59 was driven by Rene Dreyfus for the factory at five major Grand Prix events during the 1934 season, winning the Belgian Grand Prix and a commendable third place at the Swiss Grand Prix the following month. Aristocratic amateur rac....[continue reading]
This Bugatti Type 59 was first raced by Achille Varzi at the Spanish Grand Prix in September 1933, and it was driven by Tazio Nuvolari at Monaco in 1934. It was then sold by the factory to the amateur racer Lindsay Eccles, who entered the car in spee....[continue reading]
This Bugatti Type 59 was originally sold to Earl Howe, a favorite client of Ettore Bugatti. He raced the car for the first time at the Monaco Grand Prix of 1935. Sadly, he retired due to brake problems, but the Type 59 was repaired and made ready for....[continue reading]
This Bugatti Type 59 is the first of the four Type 59s supplied to private British owners in 1935 by the Molsheim Bugatti factory. As a Bugatti works team car it was entered in the 1933 Spanish Grand Prix at San Sebastian, driven by Rene Dreyfus, and....[continue reading]
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