I was fascinated to read (Motor Sport, November) an account of the rebuild of a type 35B Bugatti, discovered in Portugal, and would like to add some detail to the history of this car.
My great grandfather, something of an eccentric and an ardent motoring enthusiast, emigrated to Portugal in 1924. He became factory engineer to a long established wine firm and was responsible for installing the most up-to-date grape-pressing machinery available in those days. In 1926 his desire to compete in local motoring events took hold. The factory was blessed with a small foundry and a well-equipped machine shop. Unable to afford a Bugatti, he set about building a type 35B replicar, assisted by two of the factory mechanics. The car, complete with a duplicate chassis number, was finished in 1928 and took part in the hill climb at Monte Puretto the same year. Nearing the top of the hill, my great grandfather apparently lost control and collided with one of the poles supporting the finishing banner. Narrowly missing the driver, the pole fell, smashing the windscreen and denting the bonnet.
After its disappointing debut, the car was returned to the factory. With the approach of the Spanish Civil War, my great grandfather sold the car to the factory manager, and returned to the UK where he died in 1937.
I seriously doubt, therefore, if the car which features in DSJ’s article can justifiably be claimed to be an original Type 35B Bugatti. The moral must be “Never judge a sausage by its skin,”
M. Kean, Angus, Scotland (An enthusiast for the genuine article)