RYING A SECOND-BAND ER
THE TYPE 43 2.3 LITRE BUGATTI
ARUN in a ” 2.3 ” Bugatti, which is of course directly based on what was Europe’s standard racing car for some years, is always an event. The earlier ones were inclined to be temperamental, and required a good deal of skill before one could get the best results, apart from needing two or three grades of plugs for various conditions. By fitting a Bosch magneto the owner has overcome the trouble of oiling up plugs when starting, and at the other end of the scale, by running on a slightly rich mixture, the normal R3 plugs are able to withstand the heat of full-throttle running.
A few strokes on the hand pressure pump, a touch on the starter-button and the engine fired. In a few moments we were threading our way through the West End traffic, the engine proving docile and flexible with the ignition half-retarded, third and top gears being used except where the traffic was very dense. The exhaust was inaudible, but the gears gave an occasional joyful shout as we trod on the accelerator. The road-test took the form of a run to a South Coast town and back, the total distance being about 140 miles. The first thing to be done was to try to master the gear-box. Upward changes were fairly easy, but going the other way, the tremendous acceleration of the engine making it difficult to use the pedal lightly enough to avoid speeding-up too much. Single clutching gave the best results, a touch on the clutch pedal allowing the gear lever to flick straight across into third. The change into second was easier, as there is a greater gap between the ratios. Bugatti gears are notoriously noisy, but as they transmit the tremendous power without ill-effect, and co-operate with the other parts of the chassis in making available a superlative performance, they justify their existence. Provided that the clutch is
fully disengaged, the gears are light, and the clutch itself is also light , and progressive.
Out in the country, driving the car was sheer joy. Light steering with adequate caster, almost unconscious cornering and terrific acceleration in the gears made it impossible not to put up a high average speed. Top gear acceleracion was also surprisingly good, and from 50 m.p.h. the speed passed easily to 80. This topgear performance is very useful in populous areas, where the stirring howl of gears and supercharger gears is apt to be misunderstood. 10 to 30 m.p.h. took 31 seconds, 10 to 40 m.p.h., 8, and 10 to 80, 23 seconds ; this is a terrific performance and compares well with that of the double-camshaft model-10-80 in 19 seconds. The engine revs, happily up to 5,000, giving a limit in second and third gears of 60 and 80 m.p.h. On two occasions on short sections of straight road we reached 93 m.p.h. and there was obviously 10 or more
m.p.h. in hand if road conditions had allowed further acceleration. Colonel Giles, the owner of the car, has reached 110 on Salisbury Plain. As is usual on Bugattis, the brakes require considerable effort in order to attain full stopping power, but from 40 m.p.h., applied really hard, they brought the car to a standstill in well under 50 feet. This figure is the best we have ever encountered and was only possible on a road of abnormally good surface, the co
efficient of friction being well over 1, but even on a normal tarmac road not more than 54 feet should be needed. Being well satisfied with the results already obtained we planned to make the return journey to London in a less hurried manner The starter switch was once more pressed and the engine im mediately burst into life after standing in the cold for two hours. On this trip the gears were used little except on. corners, but on the straights the needle kept creeping up to a quiet 80 on top almost unintentionally. Driving in this fashion,
nothing is heard except the rush of the wind, the swish of the tyres and a sort of organ note from the blower-gears when the pedal goes down. Most exhilirating !
The last part of the journey was made in darkness, and this brought us to the only weak point on the car, that of inadequate headlights. The driving light given by these only allowed a speed of about 45 m.p.h. in safety. A set of Lucas P.100’s would make all the difference.
The car we drove was the last 2.3 litre single-camshaft Bugatti to reach this country, and had covered about 18,000 miles. The spotless appearance of engine and body, which was painted in a pleasant shade of medium-dark blue, showed the care with which they had been kept. The front seats were comfortable, though when sitting in the upright position usually favoured for fast driving, a ridge on the bottom of the seat sometimes made itself felt. In the normal slightly reclining position for which the seat was obviously intended, this did not occur. Leg-room in the rear seats is rather limited, but they are well upholstered. The rear squab hinges forward to give access to a large tool locker in the tail.
We were able to test this car through the kindness of Colonel G. M. Giles, 9a, Cumberland Terrace, N.W.1, a prominent member of the Bugatti Owners’ Club. The car is now for sale at the price of 2525.