An off-the-shelf racing car
Ever since the Bugatti made its first appearance in this country it has been the subject of warm admiration on the part of all sporting motorists, and even if some of the early models were inclined to be a bit fickle at times, the moods were readily excused by the extraordinary fascination these wonderful little machines never failed to evoke. I have been for trips in 'Bugs' during which the good Ettore has been anathematised in no unmeasured terms, but even a spell of work with intricate little bits of machinery has never dampened my personal affection for his sweet productions.
One has only to glance at the 1500cc grand prix Bugatti, however, to observe that it is a distinct advance on any of its forerunners, and the manufacturers have introduced a new era for the sporting motorist by placing a real production racing car in the hands of the public. That is to say, one can purchase one of these machines and drive it away, and as delivered it will be fit to win races without any need of 'hotting up'.
The actual car tested belongs to Capt J C Douglas, and was driven to victory by its owner in the Evening News 100, though it is used daily as a runabout by Mrs Douglas for shopping expeditions in the West End.
The stability of the grand prix Bugatti and its wonderful steadiness in cornering at speed is largely due to the very low centre of gravity. Though the seats are arranged extremely low, the riding is quite comfortable and plenty of legroom is provided on either side of the clutch and gearbox. The general appearance of the car is greatly enhanced by the narrow grand prix-pattem radiator.
I was fortunate in being able to see the best of this attractive little sports model in really expert hands, for Capt Douglas is certainly amongst the top-notchers of demonstrators. I had expected to be whirled along the main roads at lightning speed, having to keep my eyes well skinned in case a man in blue hove in sight. Instead of which the car was driven gently along at a comfortable touring pace, running with remarkable smoothness, though some very pretty work with the gears produced something quite out of the way as regards acceleration. The bodywork gives a good position, but, as might be expected, fails to provide the luxurious comfort to be found in some of the more elaborate sports tourers.
Leaving the traffic, I was treated to a turn of speed along a good wide-open road, and again by using all the gears with fine judgement Capt Douglas made the little bus hum along merrily at over 85mph, with plenty more movement left on the accelerator pedal. When going at over 70mph, he shouted to me to hold tight, and by applying the brakes brought the car to rest in an incredibly short distance, though I was expecting a skid and said so.
"Oh! She will skid all right, if that is what you want to see," said my companion; so turning off on to an unmade road he treated me to some very spectacular and thrilling slithers.
Coming to Succombe Hill near Warlingham, we took the steep and winding ascent quite easily on second gear only, and made three fast climbs with the object of assessing the cooling efficiency of the engine. Removing the radiator cap afterwards, there was practically no sign of overheating. This racing Bugatti created a most favourable impression. RT