A REBUILT BRESCIA BUGATTI
VINTAGE cars that have been rebuilt to a sound pitch of dependability obviously interest readers of MOTOR SPORT very considerably. Such a car is John Smyth’s 1925 Brescia Bugatti. The first sixteen-valve Bugattis came to this country just after the War, and, expensive as they were, they commanded a steady sale to wealthy enthusiasts by reason of the then phenomenal maximum speed for a if litre car of 63
m.p.h. The Brescia type was raced quite extensively in this country by Leon Cushman, Raymond Mays, B. S. Marshall and others. We believe that one of Mays’s cars, with a special Villiers-designed camshaft, lapped Brooklands at over 100 m.p.h., and years later J. A. Robinson claimed a similar lap speed for his muchtuned Modified Brescia cingle-seater. But, in general, racing Brescias did around 85 to 90 m.p.h. and the sports version was quick if it exceeded 70 to 80 m.p.h., albeit the four-seater example road-tested by MOTOR SPORT about twelve years ago did 54 m.p.h. in second gear of its four-speed box. Smyth, who is a keen member of the )3ugatti Owners’ Club, bought his car from D. Robinson in September 1935. In Robinson’s hands it had won the Brescia Cup at the B.O.C. Lewes Speed Trials. Smyth decided that the car’s performance could be improved and that it must certainly be rendered more reliable, but he had no intention of modernising it to form a comparison with the small cars that please the sportsmen of to-day. In January 1936 attention was given to the transmission, and the trouble of oil leaking onto the rear brakes was cured. The big-end bearings were also renewed and the rods correctly aligned. New Martlett pistons with ‘Wellworthy rings were then fitted, bringing the compression-ratio up from 5.85 to 1 to 8.5 to 1. The single vertical Zenith carburetter was replaced by two 80 mm. SoIex on a special manifold with r balance pipe. The body was recellulosed Bugatti blue and fitted with a high scuttle bear ing twin aero screens. The seats are bare metal buckets and the G.P. tail
houses the box of tools. From April to December the car was in regular use. About January 1937 the chassis was lowered 3′ at the rear and new bushes fitted to the rear springs, while improved braking was obtained by using a new front axle with self-energising stoppers. To accommodate this axle the front springs were outrigged on special KE 805 steel pegs, and the car was now crabtracked 12′. Later similar brakes were fitted at the rear, and compensated actuation adopted from a crashed 2.8litre Bugatti. Work was next commenced on the engine. The valve seats were recut, valves refaced and the valve guide clearance
reduced. Double aero valve springs of 130 lb. pressure were installed. A new valve timing was employed to suit the altered compression-ratio and induction layout, and a new Autopulse fuel pump was fitted in the tail, away from the ill effects of engine vibration. New Rudge 42 mm. knock-on hubs were fitted and the car shod with new seventy-two spoke Dunlop racing wheels,
with new Dunlop tubes and covers. New Young accumulators of 12 volt, 26 plate, 92 amp. hour type (combined) were fitted behind the seats. New lamps were fitted at the side and the headlamps lowered 9″. Spring steel brackets were made for the cycle-pattern wings. Helped by his. brother in the home garage, these alterations occupied Smyth for some seven. months, working week-ends and three nights each week. Thereafter the car ran in a thoroughly satisfactory manner, never even oiling a plug in 6,000 miles driving. The brakes are now thoroughly efficient.
After a Lewes meeting the original rear axle sheared, and a new one was duly installed with 3.75 to 1 ratio, against the former ratio of 3.45 to 1. A Notex antidazzle lamp was tacked on to comply with the new lighting regulations. After the car had stood for six months it fired at the first depression of the starter button, the plugs being unchanged and. the accumulators still holding charge. The Brescia now weighs 141 cwt. and does. 23 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. in top gear. The makers rev, limit was 3,800 r.p.m., but 4,800 r.p.m. has done no damage. Eighty per cent. Cleveland Discol and 20 per cent. pure benzole is used, and the plugs are Champion 13 for road work and Champion R1 for competition. Smyth uses Castrol ” R ” oil. He hascertainly made an admirable job of his. conversion, working entirely as an amateur and for a hobby. The Brescia deservedly won the Best Kept Car prize at this year’s B.O.C. Prescott Rally. Fuller details of the modifications will appear in due course in ” Bugantics.”