Maximum speed was not tried for, in view of the transmission vibration, but a little short of 80 m.p.h. was attained without difficulty.
All Bugattis have very wide locks, and even this immense vehicle can turn round in a very small space. The steering wheel requires three turns from lock to lock, which is a pleasant ratio for ordinary use. In a car more prone to tail skidding a higher ratio would be desirable, but on the Bugatti it seems fairly ideal, coupled, as it is, with finger-light operation.
Most modern chassis, with cruciform bracing and flexible engine mountings, are very stiff behind and rather wobbly in front. Bugatti has always gone to the other extreme of an immensely rigid front end, leaving the back half to look after itself, and there can be little doubt that the superb controllability of all Bugattis is largely due to this policy. Even an 11′ fiV wheelbase does not lower the cornering ability of this Type 46 and it can be wheeled around fast bends or sharp corners in a perfectly caddish manner. Incidentally, for the best results when cornering the tyre pressures advertised by the makers must be closely adhered to. They are 21 lb./sq. in. front and 28 lb./sq. in. rear, and with any higher pressures in front the steering becomes disagreeably light. For real
dicing the telecontrols require to be wound up fairly keenly ; but, even so, the passengers continue to enjoy very genuine comfort. For town use they can be slacked right off, when the suspension becomes of a quite transatlantic softness.
In fact, this car is a remarkable combination of American comfort and flexibility, almost racing standards of roadholding and the highest grade of workmanship, qualities which place it among the world’s finest automobiles. The performance is not, indeed, overwhelming, but, for my part, I have come to the conclusion that acceleration of the “punchin-the-back” variety is definitely tiring for everyday use. It is no good saying that one need not use it, because, in point of fact, one always goes as fast as possible. So long as I can accelerate better than 98 per cent. of other road users and cruise at 70-80 m.p.h. I do not ask for any greater performance.
It is for this reason that the Types 46 and 49 Bugattis, together with such cars as the Mark V Bentley and D 6.70 Delage, appeal to me as the most desirable of all touring cars.
Rodney Clarke’s Type 46 is certainly one of the best of its kind and I greatly look forward to a further more extensive run in it in happier times, when its present minor imperfections have been overcome.