A comparison of the characteristic features of these two models, with a suggestion as to the benefits to be derived from owning one of each
We have received from Fawcett, whom we met unexpectedly after the Zoo meeting, which he attended from Leeds, a comparison between the Type 23, or Brescia, Bugatti and the Type 40 of the same make. Mr. Fawcett, who owns one example of each model and has had Bugattis for many years, realises that impecunious enthusiasts are obliged to limit themselves to the 12-h.p. Bugatti models, which are now fairly inexpensive to acquire, but he feels that so often the Brescia and the Type 40 are thought to be much alike, so that these folk do not take advantage of the existence of the two types by owning one of each. Fawcett bought his Brescia from F.H. Hambling for £15 in 1937 – it is a 1926 modified Brescia – and his Type 40 from a breaker for £20, this being a 1929 car. He has spent about £50 on each, exclusive of labour, in rebuilding these cars. The Brescia, due to its low weight and high gear ratios, runs very easily at 2,500 to 3,000 r.p.m. on not more than two-thirds throttle, 1,000 r.p.m. beingequal to 8, 12.5, 18 and 23 m.p.h., respectively, on top, third, second and first gears. The engine, which runs up to 4,000 r.p.m., is not as smooth as that of the Type 40, but is quieter mechanically at normal speeds. Fawcett claims the remarkable fuel consumption of 42 m.p.g. cruising at 2,000 r.p.m. from the Brescia, and says that its acceleration from rest to maximum about equals that of a Ford V8, going up to 60 m.p.h. in third gear.
The engine now has a compression ratio of 6.8 to 1 and the vertical Solex carburetter. Its owner asks where can one find any other car able to cruise at 70 m.p.h. at 3,000 r.p.m., and at over 30 m.p.g. at that? The Type 40 has yet to be tried for performance, but if it will cruise at 3,750 r.p.m. it will equal the Brescia’s 70 m.p.h., and contemporary reports give the maximum for this model as 75 m.p.h. or even 82 m.p.h., and from 62.5 to 65 m.p.h. in third, equal to 4,500 r.p.m. Acceleration is expected to better that of the Brescia, due to the lower gear ratios which, at 1,000 r.p.m., give 6.75, 10.25, 14.4 and 18.5 m.p.h., respectively, with 5″x 19″ tyres.
Road-holding is rather better, probably due to the longer wheelbase, wider track and greater weight (approximately 17 1/2 cwt.). Although the Type 40’s brake drums are larger than the Brescia’s, the braking is not so much improved, although a greater mileage is hoped for between having to effect the awkward shim adjustments. The Type 40 gearbox is noisier than that of the Brescia, but the lower gears are used much less, as top gear performance is good and could be further improved by using the 13 x 54 rear axle anti 16″ wheels, which would give 20 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. in top. The 3-valve per cylinder engine of the Type 40 is believed to develop about the b.h.p. as the 16-valve Brescia. unit, i.e. about 45 to 50. Parts from later Bugatti models, such as the tubular front axle, large brakes, “square” cambox, etc., are interchangeable with the Type 40 but not with the Brescia. Fawcett has lowered the body lines of his Type 40, while his Brescia has only required from Brixton a set of third-speed wheels (90s.), two rear brake drums (60s.), valve springs and tappet shims. Which seems to bear out the owner’s contention that a stable comprising a Brescia and a Type 40 can be kept with no greater outlay than that needed for other makes of similar age and power, and with immeasurably greater satisfaction.