BUGATTI SUPERIORITY

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* * * BUGATTI SUPERIORITY

Sir,

I was glad to see reference in the August issue of MOTOR SPORT to the record-breaking Bugatti type 57S of 1986 and the Le Mans winner of 1989— the type 57C. I must, however, disagree with your caption beneath the photograph of the 1989 Le Mans car. After winning this 24 hours race twelve years ago at the record speed of 86.85 m.p.h., Jean Bugatti stated that an 87/88 m.p.h. average was predetermined as being sufficient to cope with all likely opposition (Talbot, Delahaye, Delage, B.M.W., ” 2.9 ” Alfa and two special ” workl ” 12-cylinder Lagondas). In this estimate he was right and the car ran from start to finish to this average schedule. The question of easing up to any great extent during the latter part of the race did not, therefore, arise. Had it been necessary’, however, a much higher average speed could have been set as Jean Bugatti also stated at that time (and he was not given to making prophecies which the marque could not fulfil). ” . . the car was capable of a Le Mans average of 90/98 m.p.h.” This, surely, is interesting, since he was referring to the 1939 Sarthe circuit and not the vastly improved, wider and resurfaced 1951 circuit which some experts have estinuited as being 5/10 m.p.h. faster per lap. An estimated capability of a 90/93 m.p.h. race average in 1939 from a standard 8.8-litre supercharged Bugatti (except for higher

back-axle ratio, flexible oil and petrol pipes, an oil radiator, Bugatti G.P. wire wheels and a carburetter slightly increased in section) hardly justifies your comment that the new type C 8.5litre Jaguar which averaged 98.5 m.p.h. over the 1951 circuit ” . . nicely exemplifies the advance in design shown by the Coventry product . . .” More especially since the type 57C Bugatti (chassis price 1745 in 1989) with a wheelbase of 10 ft. 10i in. was capable of carrying full 4/5-seater saloon coachwork in comfort and silence as opposed to the purely sporting dimensions of the type C short-chassis Jaguar. The Bugatti petrol consumption at Le Mans averaged 10.8 m.p.g. on 80 octane fuel, not a spanner was used on the car during the race and the bonnet was never even raised ; the engine developed 200 b.h.p. and the car was capable of 142 m.p.h. without exceeding 5,000 r.p.m. and, with suitable gearing, was estimated to be capable of 168 m.p.h. All this in 1939! Another major consideration, often

overlooked, is that this winning Bugatti was a lone entry, and thus had to make the running in the early stages and carry on to victory. It is usual that the winning car is one of a team whereby at least one car is detailed to go all-out at the start and blow-up the opposition, and, having blown themselves up in the process, leave the field clear for the other team car or cars to come through to unharassed victory. Birkin’s blower 44 Bentley used to do this for the Speed Sixes and Stirling Moss did it this year on the type C Jaguar, two of the team of three passing out with mechanical derangements. (I am aware of the official denial in this respect, but the cause and effect were exactly similar.) It would be interesting to know how often, if at all, Le Mans has been won with a lone entry apart from 1939—Carraciola’s ” 38/250 ” Mercedes and Sonuner’s ” 2.9 ” Alfa failed on separate occasions. Regarding the type C Jaguar, I have

heard it said that the amazingly clever and light chassis of this car, which contributed so largely to its victory and outstanding performance, is of Continental conception and design. I have disregarded this allegation and assert that except for the major features of design in the valve operation, which have been copied from Bugatti practice, it is an entirely British and Jaguar achievement. Incidentally, since this new sports racing Jaguar is presumably so much faster than the “4.1 ” Ferrari (which some doubt) and the Lago Talbot (which, when they won Le Mans last year, were reported in Some quarters as disguised

Grand Prix cars), would it not be wise to direct British Racing Motors’ funds— four or five years’ development so far and nothing worth while yet to show for it— to British Racing Jaguars, to encourage Mr. Lyons to produce a 4I-litre Grand Prix winner in even fewer weeks than it took to design, produce, test and win the Le Mans race ? Or is the rumoured XX 150 destined for just this purpose ? I am, Yours, etc., Bohiey. C. W. P. HArarrosr. [We remarked that the Bugatti was able to ease up towards the end of the 1989 Le Mans race because Gerard’s Delage developed trouble four hours from the finish, and from then on it was obvious, vide the contemporary Maroit SPORT report, that “the most he (Gerard) could hope for now was second place “—as proved the case, 26.4 miles behind the Bugatti. As for a Bugatti v. Type C Jaguar controversy, we leave that to others.—En.1

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