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Bugatti, History and Renaissance - Part 8: The Type 35

by

Antonio Eiras

Presented to the press in Lyon on the occasion of the French GP in 1924, the Type 35 was unanimously welcomed as the most beautiful racing car ever built.

 

Conceived during the previous winter, this car combined the traditional technique, already tried on other models of the brand, with the shapes, dictated by the aerodynamics, inspired in the Fiat and Sumbeam most recent models that had so impressed Ettore.

 

Resuming the dimensions of the Type 15 and 22 chassis, with 2.40m wheelbase, the Type 35 had a bodywork made of aluminum panels, which surprised, on the one hand, for its enormous elegance aesthetics, which would have continuity on the bodies of the brand's models produced in the next fifteen years, on the other hand, because it meant a break with the tradition of Ettore, who considered the bodywork as a superfluous weight in a racing car.

 

The engine used was derived from the Type 30 series and was the 8-cylinder in-line, with 24 valves and camshaft at the top. In the original version, with 2 carburetors, this engine delivered about 100hp at 6,000 rpm.

 

The greatest originality of the Type 35 was the light alloy wheels, which had drum brakes integrated in their structure, which could thus be replaced quickly, together with the tires.

 

It would be the tires that overshadowed the debut of the new Bugatti model. Indeed, a probable defect in the vulcanization of tires, manufactured hastily by Dunlop, may have been at the origin of the stripping phenomena that affected all the five Type 35 entered in the race, leading to the abandonment of 3 of them and delaying the survivors to a modest 7th and 8th on arrival, after the exhaust of the tires that the team had taken for the Lyon race.

 

Bugatti also took a Type 35 prototype for demonstration to all the press in the circuit.

 

A month later, and using tires previously tested on other models of the brand, Constantini, at the wheel of the Type 35, finished second in the San Sebastian GP, in a demonstration of the real value of the new car.

 

The Type 35 proved to be quite fast and competitive in the races, but it was also very smooth and pleasant to drive on the road.

 

These qualities convinced the undecided who had been disappointed with the model's debut and orders began to pour in, coming from regular customers of the brand, friends of Ettore and even private drivers.

 

The success of the Type 35 was enormous and the economic comfort that came from it would allow Ettore to fulfill his dream of building a luxury car, superior to everything that until then had been built, the Royale or Type 41.

 

Despite the succession of victories obtained by his cars, Ettore did not rest on his laurels and, in 1925 decided to increase the power of the Type 35. In the beginning of 1926 he presented a model, with the cylinder capacity increased to 2.3 liters, which would later be designated for Type 35T, after a spectacular victory at that year's Targa Florio. In fact, the 3 Bugatti registered by the brand finished the race in the first 3 places, proving to be more stable and effective than rivals Delage, Peugeot and Maserati.

 

Later that same year, Bugatti debuted a Type 35 which, equipped with a 1.1-liter engine and powered by a small Roots compressor, that would became the Type 39A, a model with a 1,5-liters engine, also supercharged, and which delivered about 130HP.

 

These models would continue the winning streak started with the original Type 35 and the title of World Champion crowned a year full of satisfaction for Ettore and his team.

 

This success would also include a 2-liter model equipped with a compressor, the Type 35C, which won the Italian GP that year and that would be replaced, in early 1927, by the Type 35B.

 

The latter, equipped with a 2.3-liter engine and powered by a Roots compressor, would represent the brand until 1931 and would prove to be the most sophisticated and effective of the Bugatti racing cars with overhead camshaft engines.

 

Encouraged by the success he was having with the Type 35, Ettore presented, in 1925, a more affordable version of this model, intended both for everyday use on the road and for participation in competition. Designated by Type 35A, or “Course Imitation”,this model used a chassis identical to that of the GP cars and was equipped with a 2-liter engine, the same 8 cylinders in line, powered by 2 Solex carburetors, which delivered 75HP. The wheels were with spokes and cheaper than the alloy wheels.

 

This model remained in production until 1929, with 130 units built.

 

Bugatti's most relevant victories with the Type 35 were those at the first two Monaco GPs, in 1929 and 1930, as well as those at the Targa Florio from 1927 to 1930.

 

The production of the Types 35 and 39 would end in 1931, having been replaced by the Type 51. About 210 of these cars were built and would quote, alongside the Type 13, the Type 41 Royale and the Type 57, as the most important pieces in the history of Bugatti. No other model would prove, however, and at the same time, as beautiful and effective, as the Type 35.

 

Still in 1926, the Type 13 “Brescia” replacement was presented.

 

Ettore had not forgotten the good performance of his 4-cylinder engines and designed a new block, with 1.5-liters and 3 valves per cylinder. Mounted on a Type 35 chassis, this model was designated Type 37 and could be used both on the road and in competition.

 

More affordable than the Type 35A, the 37 was highly praised by the specialized press of the time, for the high performance of its engine, which, powered by a Solex carburetor, delivered a remarkable 60CV power.

 

In 1927 an evolution of this model was presented, the Type 37A, with an engine powered by a Roots compressor and which reached 80 to 95hp at 5,000 rpm.

 

About 270 cars of Types 37 and 37A were built, whose production ended in 1930.

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