A “SILENT SPORTS” BUGATTI
IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW 3.3 LITRE CAR
THE existance of a new Bugatti sports car, said to have almost the acceleration of the blown ” 2.3.” up to 80 m.p.h., has for some time been known in England, and a visit to Molsheim to try the new machine seemed indicated. When we did get there we found that the Type 57, as the new model is called, was already in good demand and a number of chassis were coming through. In fact, with two other widely differing activities, that is, preparing the racing teams and building the new rail-cars, the famous factory was very busy indeed.
In appearance the new car is not unlike the previous 3.3. litre model Type 49, except that it has shutters on the radiator and a built-up front axle. Rudge Whitworth wire wheels are used instead of the aluminium type. The car we were to try was the one usually driven by Constantin& the first of its type and still used for testing pur
poses. Rene Dreyfus, for some years past one of the star performers in the Bugatti racing team, was at the wheel.
After three minutes of warming up we took our seats, and the car moved off smoothly. “Delightful cars, these,” said M. Dreyfus, and thereupon changed from bottom to top gear. In this ratio we burbled along perfectly smoothly to the factory gates, and so out on to the fine straight road between Molsheim and Strasbourg. After a fast run up and down to get the oil circulating Dreyfus pronounced himself satisfied. “First of all notice the flexibility,” he said, and ran down to 10 m.p.h. on top gear, “now the smooth pick-up,” and proceeded to put his foot down hard. The speedometer
needle swung round at an ever-increasing rate without any trace of hesitation. “All-out speed,” and we reached 95 m.p.h. “Finally the road holding,” so we drove down a minor road at 75, slowed to 60 with a gentle application of the brakes, and took a 60 degree bend without any reduction in speed. The car neither rolled, slid or gave any indication that the manceuvre was at all unusual. ” Vraiment une voiture fantastique,” a remark with which we could not fail to agree as soon as we could think of an adequate reply.
The brakes were extremely efficient, and from a speed of 40 m.p.h. the car came to rest in approximately 53 feet, without any tendency to swing or for the wheels to lock. This test was in fact considered too tame, so we tried again, this time from 75 m.p.h. The retardation was equally safe and sure, the distance being about 70 yards. Instead of the shrill scream which usually comes from third gear on a Bugatti, on the “3.3.” there is a complete absence of noise. Constant mesh gears are used for second and third gears, and the change is further simplified by having a single-plate clutch lined with Ferodo
in place of the multiple-disc pattern which is usually fitted to Bugatti cars. The exhaust note is subdued and even when all out there is nothing more than a slight rumble. Owing to the limitations of the
Works insurance policy, we were not able to drive the car ourselves, but the ease with which it cornered and the accuracy of the steering could not be doubted from what we saw. The suspension was good throughout the range, aided by friction dampers controlled from the dashboard.
After lunch at the famous ” Hostellerie du Pur Sang,” that unique inn-cum-clubhouse which M. le Patron has built to accommodate those who visit the factory, Jean Bugatti came with us instead of Dreyfus, and we went out on to the high-road to obtain a series of acceleration figures. They are shown in the graph which appears with this article. and as will be seen, at the lower end are equal to the best we have recorded for an unsupercharged car, and the curve shows little sign of falling off, even up to 80 m.p.h. Altogether an extremely fine performance. There was no feeling of effort as these figures were being recorded, just a smooth and silent surge of The car is of course
substantially built and felt as though it could be driven flat-out indefinitely. Without doubt this latest product of the Molsheim factory is “tine voiture de pur sang,” and no one can deny the benefits of racing when they experience the high performance and ease of handling which are directly derived
from high-speed international competition. The maximum speed on the level is about 95 m.p.h., with closed bodywork, and would be comf ort ably over 100 in the case of an open car. 70-75 m.p.h. can be obtained in third gear, and 50 in second, and at 60 m.p.h. on top gear the engine is doing approximately 2,500 r.p.m. A rev.counter is not fitted, as no harm results even if the engine speed reaches 5,500 r.p.m, In the course of the timed tests the car several times reached 105 m.p.h. on slight down-hill and a flying kilometre w as covered at over 100 standing kilo was done All this was carried out m.p.h. The in 39 seconds. with hardly a
murmur from the engine, and Jean Bugatti finds that a fast average, even of over 60 m.p.h., can be kept up with much less effort in a closed car than an open one. After completing the tests we had
occasion to go to Strasbourg, a drive which was performed with all the verve for which Jean Bugatti is famous. We arrived there too early of course, so the
time was spent in driving through the crowded streets of the town at 70 to 10 m.p.h. on top gear. Another feature was shown on the return journey, when the driver suddenly executed a series of zig-zags at 60 to demonstrate the absence of rolling, but our new passenger, who had not yet become accustomed to Jean’s virtuosity at the wheel, did not
seem to appreciate it. Turning to the technical side of the car, the engine is a straight-eight unit with two over head camshafts, and gives 140 horse power at 4,800 r.p.m. The valves are inclined to one another at 90 degrees with the sparking plugs in the centre of the head, and. the camshafts are driven by gears at the rear end of the engine. White metal is used in the nine main bearings and for the big ends. The cylinder head and block are in one unit and the
cam-cases are made in that handpolished aluminium which is the joy of every Bugatti owner. The distributor and petrol pump are driven from the rear end of the off-side camshaft, and two coils are mounted at the rear of the dash-board. A single vertical Zenith carburetter is fitted on the off-side. Water pump, starter and dynamo are all carried at
the near side of the engine. The engine and gear-box unit has a rigid four-point suspension. An open propeller shaft is used, and the back-axle reaction is taken by the usual long torque member. The top line of the chassis runs straight as far as the back the are swept up, but from a depth of 10 inches at the rear engine mounting, the side members taper to the size of a normal dumb iron at the front of the chassis. The front axle is built up from two hollow sections with a shouldered shaft in the middle. A large nut with a right and left hand thread pulls the two sections up against the shoulder. The front springs are half elliptic, while the familiar re
versed quarterelliptic springs are used at the rear. The brakes are of large diameter, cable operated, with the cyclechain compensators which have long been a feature of Bugattis. The en gine sump holds four gallons of oil and the petrol tank 22 gallons of Jean Bugatti has for some years been responsible for Bugatti coachwork, and has designed many striking closed bodies with ultra-sloping windscreens. The car we tried was of more moderate design, and combined comfort and good visibility with attractive lines. The seats were constructed with tubular frames, with a large number of coil springs running horizontally from one side to the other. Over this foundation a padded cloth cover
is sewn, the whole construction giving a firm but yielding support. The seat at the rear was light enough to be carried with one hand and could be removed bodily for cleaning the interior of the car. A large metal trunk was built into the back of the body. The price of the car in France is 76,000
francs, some £700 at the old rate of exchange. With the present rate of exchange and the 331% duty the price in England works out at about £975. Ettore Bugatti Automobiles, 1-3, Brixton Road, London, S.W.9, is a direct branch of the Molsheim factory and can give full information on this point.