SPORTING CARS ON TEST.
THE 3-LITRE BUGATTI.
By THE EDITOR.
AT the last Olympia Motor Show, Ettore Bugatti departed from his previous practice of building only racing or sporting models, and surprised his many followers by introducing the first serious attempt at a Bugatti touring car.
This was the new 3-litre, 8-cylinder model, which differs in size and in certain features of design from any other type of Bugatti. To begin with, excepting only the formidable `: Gold Bug,” of some 15-litre capacity, this new car is the largest Bugatti (by some 700 c.c.) that has yet been produced. Secondly, in view of the ‘largersize of the engine,
and in order to ensure the minimum of vibration, the designer has wisely used the maximum number of bearings to the crankshaft, namely, nine, an interesting point when it is remembered that five bearings are considered sufficient for the 2,300 c.c. supercharged model.
In other respects the type ” 44 ” (as it is called) follows Bugatti practice very closely, having the unusual arrangement of three overhead valves per cylinder) two inlet and one exhaust, operated by an overhead camshaft, and forced feed lubrication by a pressure pump. The standard Bugatti chassis layout is followed, consisting of semi-elliptic front springs passing through the c:rcular front axle, and quarter elliptic rear springs anchored at the extreme end of the chassis, running forward to the back axle casing.
Central control four-speed gearbox and cable operated four-wheel brakes complete the general specification of the new model.
In the past there have been many enthusiasts who were prepared to sacrifice docility and flexibility for the undisputed ” pep ” common to all Bugatti models’ but even the most enthusiastic could not claim that their cars were comfortable touring vehicles. The 3-litre model was introduced to remedy this state of affairs and, with a view to testing its success or failure in. this direction, I was very pleased to accept the loan of Colonel Sorel’s private car for a day’s trial. The car in question is fitted with a low built fabric saloon body of a type which is becoming increasingly popular among sportsmen who realise that the extra
comfort more than outweighs the almost imperceptible sacrifice of performance.
Although, personally, I deprecate the fitting of a saloon body on a sports car, there can be no doubt that this class of body is of greater utility than the open type, and on a car of such definite “dual personality” as the new Bugatti, or for that matter, oil any high grade sports model, there is no serious objection to its use.
Settling ourselves aboard in the heart of London, we, driver and crew, at once realised that a comfortable day was before us, for seating accommodation, suspension and ventilation seemed to be extremely adequate. Having a peculiar fad for sitting right up to the steering wheel, I was disappointed to find that the front seats made this impossible without the aid of a rolled-up overcoat at my back. However, this makeshift worked well—I found all the controls handy and my view of the front wings unobstructed.
I was immediately impressed by the ridiculous lightness of the major controls and in particular of the clutch pedal. The latter was almost incredible and suggested those Olympia models in which a special (and quite useless) clutch spring is fitted to gull the unsuspecting buyer.
That the spring pressure was perfectly adequate we soon discovered on ‘moving off—in fact the car was apt to” judder” slightly as the clutch was engaged, suggesting a certain fierceness in the latter.
In traffic, the car proved a delight to handle as either the top gear crawl or the second gear” buzz and jump” method could be indulged in at will. It was soon realised that all the drawbacks of the more ” racing ” Bugattis were absent, giving place to real docility, smoothness and silence at low speeds and at the same time not excluding such desirable traits as splendid acceleration and dee.leration. Although it is hardly likely that a. top gear fiend will ever drive one of these cars, yet if such should be the case, he would find that the engine would readily respond to his crude and lazy methods, in a manner surpassed only by the large and woolly American. On the other hand, once the rapid changes of engine speed have been mastered, the gearbox artist artist will find the lever a joy to handle, as no effort is required and even if an error of judgment is made, the fact is only betrayed by a slight crunch from the machinery. •
On the open road it soon became apparent that we had a very lively speedometer in. front of us, but as we were bound for Brooklands and had a stop watch with us, its optimism did not deceive us. Subsequent tests showed that the corrected speeds on the various gears were approximately as follows :—Ist gear, 30 m.p.h.; 2nd, 40 m.p.h. ; 3rd, 6o m.p.h. All these speeds were obtained with great rapidity and without fuss or vibration ; when accelerating or decelerating a period, lasting for about LI m.p.h. on the speedometer, is passed through at speeds corresponding to about 55 m.p.h. on top gear. This period was so short and withal so slight that it could not possibly be described as a fault, and seems to be an unavoidable feature of many high efficiency engines. When we arrived at the track the fourth seat was filled by a ” resident ” and we attempted a few speedy laps. All went well until half way round the Bvfleet banking, when the rear of the car swung from side to side in an alarming manner, indicating that the tyre pressures were more suited to road work than to high track speeds. After borrowing some of Mr. Dunlop’s potted air for our Michelin Balloons, we motored a fast lap to test the behaviour of the car with the harder tyres. This time the steadiness was remarkable and the speedometer registered 95 m.p.h. for a ‘considerable portion of the lap ; unfortunately, the stop watch did stop on this run so the speed was not checked. On attempting a second lap the rather touring plugs showed acute signs of distress and we were compelled to stop to allow them a respite. We then restarted and the stop watch recorded a lap speed of 77 m.p.h., although
the car was still suffering somewhat from tired plugs and failed to persuade its hopeful speedometer beyond the go m.p.h. mark.
There is little doubt that on the first lap over 80 m.p.h. was averaged, as the car was running infinitely better before the plugs ” cooked ” ; we were very sorry not to be able to attempt some all out laps on a new set of ” Bougies.”
Our next adventure was a trip round the course used for the Essex Six-Hours race, when, without any particular effort (I did not know I was being timed) and in spite of violent spitting on the corners (due to the miserable plugs), we clocked 62 m.p.h. for the lap, which speed indicates, to a certain extent, the quality of the brakes and acceleration of the Bug.
We then forsook the speedway for the public roads once more and I was again imPressed with the delightful running of the car. The lightness of all controls, the liveliness of the engine and the really powerful brakes made traffic driving and cross-country spurts equally joyous and enabled high averages to be maintained with a complete absence of effort or danger.
In summing up my impressions of the 3-litre Bugatti, I must emphasise the hitherto unmentioned fact that the price of this remarkable chassis is as low as 1550, *rich, considering the performance and specification, is indisputably great value.
Here we have a car with most of the virtues of a racing car, including an honest maximum speed of 85 m.p.h., combined with economy (25 m.p.g.) and tractability to satisfy the most fastidious owner, and the whole selling at a price (including import duty) equivalent to that of the dull British medium powered tourer.
Monsieur Bugatti deserves sincere congratulations for this model and prospective car buyers should certainly apply to 12, Albermarle Street, or Brixton, for a trial run.
THIRTY CARS IN THE “260.”
Exactly thirty cars have been entered for the Junior Car Club’s Eighth International 200 Miles Race, including representatives of Britain, France and Italy.
The race is to be run at Brooklands, on Saturday afternoon, July 21st, and there will be a massed start of all the competing cars at 2.30 p.m. prompt.
Prior to the start, there will be a display of aerobatics” by two squadrons of R.A.F. planes, which will be in attendance throughout the afternoon to participate in the welcome to the winner of the Aerial Derby.
As usual, Brooklands Track will be laid out with road corners and acute turns for this annual 200 Miles Race.
Loud speakers will be installed at 32 different points so that news items regarding the race, the Aerial Derby, and the Air Force Display can be broadcast throughout the afternoon.