Bugatti Type 35, the purest racing car there is
In the good ol’ times when Grand Prix cars wore clean paintjobs, when Germans were silver and Italians were red, the most successful blue car was the Bugatti Type 35. In its prime, the car won more than a thousand races worldwide, including the notorious Targa Florio five times in a row! Today, it’s among the most popular pre-war race cars with many being sold for upwards of $500.000.
Bugatti T35 was a Grand Prix household guest in the twenties
Signore Ettore Bugatti introduced the car in 1924 during the Grand Prix race in Lyon. The car had a 2l straight 8 engine with three valves per cylinder and an overhead cam. The engine produced 90 horsepower at 6000RPM, but the main quality of Type 35 was its weight. Alloy wheels and a hollow front axle were among the innovative approaches used for bringing the weight down to mere 750kg. The very first Type 35 finished the race in seventh, but everyone knew that its time will come. In the end, the car really had it all — durability, striking and design, functional means of enhancing its performance and a great engineering mind who put it all together and made it work.
In addition to the original T35, the car had several other iterations. Bugatti T35A was the cheaper version introduced in 1925. It was centered around the T35 design, but with much simpler mechanics which brought the maintenance costs down and had a crippling effect on performance. On the other hand, T35C utilized Roots supercharger to increase the engine power to a respectable number of 128 horsepower. In 1926 a special model called Type 35T was created for the purpose of competing in, and winning, the Targa Florio race. Its engine displacement was increased to 2,3l although the car was ineligible to compete in Grand Prix events due to 2,0l engine displacement limitation rules. The final Type 35 was the Type 35B which kept the 2,3l engine from the Type 35T, but with a supercharger, increasing the power to 138HP. One of those cars won the 1929 French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Type 35 chassis was later used for another Bugatti, the Type 37. The car featured a 1.5l straight four three valve engine producing 60 horsepower. Type 37A had a supercharger with engine output brought up to between 80 and 90 horsepower.
Bugatti T35’s fame moved from racing tracks to auction houses
In all its iterations, Bugatti 35 is now a sought after car which is still driven in classic car events despite his six-to-seven-figure price tag for original and unmolested examples. Unlike the Bugattis of today, these cars were envisioned, engineered and made to be driven hard and collect trophies wherever they show up. In that light, we can all agree that Type 35 is among the greatest, if not the greatest racing car of all time.