Mystery Bugatti

The New Scientist reports a single-seater Bugatti on view at a new London Transport Museum. Some years ago a motoring paper told of the same car as being a Type 23, saying it was a one-off raced at Brooklands in 1925 by a Capt Middleton D’Este, who threw in the towel after a few such outings, although the Bugatti was said to have remained intact, if unused, for many years, until it was cannibalised by someone who used parts of it to build a replica Type 13 Bugatti.

This presents a pretty problem. In the first place, I can find no evidence of a Capt D’Este ever having raced at Brooklands, or being a member of the BARC at the relevant time. Then the Bugatti OC, in its “British Bugatti Register, Second Edition,” of 1989, lists fourteen Type 13 Bugattis and another twelve Type 13 Replicas, all having a “continuous history”, although this sounds a bit ambiguous in the case of replicas with new chassis frames. The Register also lists 23 Type 23s, but none is quoted as having had Capt D’Este as its former owner. I wondered if this car was the rather obscure Brescia Bugatti I had encountered before the war in Thornton Heath, owned then by the Bacca brothers; but that one, when I saw it, had a “rather sketchy two-seater body”.

As all that is in the museum is apparently the mono posto body, the fuel tank. an undershield, and the driver’s seat. Molsheim-sleuths look like having a hard task of identification?