Vintage Postbag, December 1967

The 1932 Bugatti-Peugeots


At the risk of being shot by my publishers, I quote the following passage from my forthcoming book “Georges Roesch and the Invincible Talbot “; the month was June 1932 :—

“In the motor-racing world it was to be a turbulent and uncomfortable month, full of cynical freaks of fortune: a quixotic canvas of stark blacks and whites, with more than a hint of midsummer madness in the air. It had started with the inexplicable death of Leeson in the (Brooklands) 1,000 miles race; and the following weekend came news from France of the death of Andre Boillot. Like Leeson, he should not have died at all, for he was involved in a comparatively mild collision with a tree during practice for a hill-climb; but the petrol tank split open, the fuel caught fire, and he could not escape in time. His death was more than a personal loss, for it brought to an end another phase in the association between Bugatti and Peugeot and the new range of cars which Boillot had been developing from it. At the time of his death he was driving a Peugeot P2o1X powered by a blown 1,1oo-c.c. engine of Bugatti design, and only a few days before he had captured the World’s twenty-four-hour ½-litre class record in a 1,400-c.c. model.” [There was no such thing in 1932 as a World’s class record.—Ed.]

These cars were outwardly normal Peugeots, but were pure anomaly; apart from re-introducing superchargers at a time when all sensible people were throwing them away, another Bugatti modification was the replacement of the standard Peugeot independent front suspension by a straight tube beam axle.

Callington, Anthony Blight.



Boillot was killed driving a Peugeot 201X on June 5th, 1932, while practising for the Cote d’Ars race. This Peugeot had the Type 48 Bugatti engine, virtually half of a T35 G.P. roller-bearing engine, which “E. B.” designed specially for Peugeot. This is referred to in a book called “Bugatti” by a chap called Conway.

London, W.2. H. G. C.

[Yes, and illustrated.—Ed.]

*     *     *

What Make?


Can anyone identify this little engine which was reputed to have been built to fit into a 3-wheeled car around 1920 which never went into production?

It is air-cooled, the detachable head and block being cast iron. It has a single o.h.c. which is chain-driven from the front of the engine. The magneto is a Simms, also chain-driven. The capacity is around 600 c.c.

Newbattle, W. S. Gordon.

*     *     *

“Not for Commoners”


I was quite surprised to see you had copied my letter from the R.R.E.C. Bulletin under the heading : “Not for Commoners.”

I like your publication, and although I may be somewhat ignorant of the modus operandi of some of the people who inhabit the British Isles, I do know there are still some of those stout souls like Sir Henry Royce and the Hon. C. S. Rolls who founded a tradition upon integrity and not upon the indiscriminate use of the pen to paint word-pictures around these once very elegant carriages; which upon arrival at their new-found homes turn out to be of the nature of those “Castles in Spain” with which we as wee folks were endowed by our dear mothers in the name of “Bed-time Stories.” The vehicle which I mentioned was purchased from a photograph which left little to be desired as far as a hobby car was concerned, and from my correspondence with other dealers and also acquaintances I was assured that £395 should purchase a 20/25 1935 Rolls-Royce in suitable condition to carry an M.O.T. certificate and be presentable as well as safe to drive in Ontario.

A friend of mine purchased a 1934 20/25 Rolls-Royce and paid £495, after lengthy correspondence attesting to its fine physical and mechanical soundness. But upon arrival the head was found to be cracked beyond repair, and it will not hold water; the engine hammered, the mains being over nine-thousandths “out of round,” and the silencer, or what was left of it, looked like the skeleton of a fish.

Although he was assured that it ran quietly, the clutch slipped (burnt-out) and the wings were lacework across the stays from electrolysis. Also, he did not receive the mascot, as agreed in the correspondence, nor a replacement head which was promised in later correspondence sent to him or to me.

We were both assured in letters that there was no rot in the coachwork. If you have a correspondent in this “section of the woods” send him round and we will gladly show him!

Ontario, William Fuller.

*     *     *

A Rare Armstrong Siddeley


I have nearly completed the “restoration” of a 1928 30 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley. The car is rather interesting, as it was built for the Royal Family as a shooting-brake for Balmoral and Birk Hall. The body which is enormous and very heavy is teak from the scuttle backwards.

I have managed to replace or renovate most mechanical parts with the exception of a universal joint on the “input” side or driven side of the gearbox. (The original one broke in 1939, and the car not used since). This type of joint appears to be exclusive to Armstrong Siddeley. It consists of four ball races (two on input, two on output shaft) with a clamp holding them together. I would be most grateful of any advice you could give me regarding the car and any likely source of my vital bits.

I have once written to the A.S.O.C. and they didn’t bother to reply, which surprised me as I’m sure mine was the biggest ever made!

I would be very interested to know how many other 30 h.p.s are still on the road as these owners may have spares.

I realise you will probably not have time to answer this and if so I would be grateful if you could pass it on to someone who could (even the phantom A.S. Owners’ Club).

Brigstock, M. Maxwell.

[Can anyone help ? The 30 h.p. is a very rare model, and this may well be the only one left. The prototype Siddeley Special Burlington limousine, which had some 30 h.p. associations, was, alas, scrapped in London a few years no because I could not find anyone who wanted it.—Ed.)