THE SIXTEEN-VALVE BUGATTIS
* THE SIXTEEN-VALVE BUGATTIS
Another Enthusiast writes of this popular Car
FOLLOWING the success of his 8-valve 65 x 100 mm. 4-cylinder model, M. Bugatti produced a team of three 16-valve ears for the 1914 Voiturette Race, which was interrupted by the W a r. When it was seen that war was imminent, the Bugatti factory at Molsheim, in German Alsace, was closed and the three cars sent to Italy, M. Bugatti being of Italian nationality at that time.
In 1917 the cars were brought back to France, where they were used in connection with French aviation, and M. Bugatti got busy with aero engines.
After the war a return was made to Molsheim, this time in French Alsace, and the three ears were prepared for the 1920 Voiturette Race at Le Mans. In the meantime a production model was shown at Olympia in 1919 by the English concessionnaires, Chas. jarrott & Letts, and was described as 10 h.p. 66 X 100,, 1,308-c.c. 16 valves, and one o;h. camshaft, 7 ft. 10 in. wheelbase, 3 ft. 9 in. track, 62 m.p.h. guaranteed. Chassis £750. (The 1919 3-litre Bentley was guaranteed to do 75 m.p.h.)
The three team cars were driven by Friederieli. Braccoli and Viscaya, the first two finishing 1st and 5th. Viscaya was disqualified because M. Bugatti unscrewed the radiator cap, and the rules forbade anyone but the crew to touch the car. The race was of 256.5 miles, and the winner’s speed was 57.6 m.p.h., and fastest lap 65 M.p.h. The roadholding qualities of the model were part ieularly mentioned, pointing out the difficulty of incorporating this in a light chassis— the cars could not exceed 1,100 lb. empty.
In January, 1921, IL 0. D. Segrave bought the winning car and found no difficulty in putting 63 miles into the hour on his journey across France. This car (XE 6132) was described fully in The Autocar as of 65.64 x 100, 1,353.24 c.c., 16 valves, one 0.11. camshaft, one doublespark magneto:, plugs either side block, one Zenith carburetter, compression ratio 5.52 to 1 [inlet valve Opens t.d.c., closes 35° after b.d.c. ; exhaust valve opens 450 before b.d.c., closes 15 • after t.(1.c.]. Valves 21 mm. diain., b.h.p. 20.5 at 2.750 r.p.m., wheelbase 6 ft. 5 in., traek :1ft. ‘in., weight 13 cwt., 3.25 to 1 top gear, 710 x90 tyres.
This was the car which was to have challenged the Aston-Martin to race at Brooklands, but did not turn up—as a result of the propeller-shaft dropping in pract ice.
At the 1920 show the standard production model was described as of 68 x 100, 1,453 c.c., 16-valve, £735 chassis, 48 m.p.g. claimed, chassis weight 9 cwt., wheelbase 8 ft. 4 in. The works cars next raced were 68 x 190, 16-valvers for the ‘1921 Italian 1f-litre
G.P., finishing in the first four plaees-won at 72 m.p.h. These were similar to Segrave’s car, except that the crankshaft was mounted on ball-bearings and the engine had ” experimental ” roller bigends. There were two magnetos on the dash ; maximum power at 3,350 r.p.m., 3.0 to 1 top gear.
At the 1921 show the standard car was shown as Crossley-Bugatti, as arrangements had been made for the production in this country, apparently rather shortlived, as only 25 ears were completed.
The first great performer on the Model, both standard and sports, in this country was Leon Cushman, who raced them in sprints, hill-climbs and 200-mile races. Indeed, his speed in the 1923 200-Mile Race was not believed by the Patron himself. (91 m.p.h. and over 100 m.p.h. for the flying half-mile.) Special tuning included 81 to 1 compression ratio, two carburetters and alcohol fuel. Cecil Clutton recently described the pre-I914 Type 13 8-valve Bugatti, and now J. A. Fawcett rounds off the history of the early 4-cylinder Bugatti cars with
this article on the 16-valvers. For the 1922 T.T. in the Isle of
Man three cars were entered and driven by Viscaya, Maury and B. S. Marshall, and were described as 69 x 100, 16 valves, crankshaft bearings, two ball and one front plain, 47 b.h.p. (Talbot-Darracq 50 b.h.p.). The plain bronze big-ends gave a little trouble.
At the 1922 show two varieties were offered for the first time, i.e., 68 x100 standard and 69 x 100 ” Brescia.”
In 1923 a stout effort was made at Le Mans 24-Hours Endurance by a standard 4-seater—fastest 11-litre, average speed 46.3 m.p.h. (winning Bentley 57 m.p.h.) By this time the 16-valve Bugatti was extremely popular and enjoyed considerable success in the bands of Cushman, Raymond Mays, E. H. Hale, B. S. Marshall, et c. Mavs, particularly, with two cars, ” Cordon Rouge ” and ” Cordon Bleu,” put up a performance which can never have been equalled in the Sport, and in the nature of present-day affairs, is never, likely to be. His standing starts were remarkable for clean, effortless get-away,
and the number of fastest times of day regardless of engine capacity indicates the speed thereof.
In 1921 a special version of the 6 ft. 5 in. “Brescia ” was proposed, modified to Raymond Alays’s specification, priced at 1570, and capable of 40, 70, 85 and 90plus on the gears. Apparently production difficulties were encountered by the concessionnaires—Jarrott & Letts—and nothing came of it.
At the 1923 show two models were again offered for the 1924 season, the 11.4-h.p. chassis at 2350 and 11.9-h.p. chassis at 1475. The latter was called a “Modified Brescia,” and had the ballbearing crankshaft and single magneto. During 1924 the 68 X 100 was discontinued and the standard 11.9 model was the “Modified Brescia,” guaranteed to do 65 in third and 75 in top (3,600 and 3,200 r.p.m. approximately respectively). Rearwheel brakes only were fitted and the chassis cost £330, and the 2-seater £485. The ” Full Brescia ” was also offered at £50 extra, 10/90 in top being claimed.
In 1926, the last year, front-wheel brakes were fitted, of similar design to the G.P. type. Up to this time, Chas. Jarrott & Letts were the concessionnaires, various models being described by them as Type 22, 68 x 100, 11.4 h.p., 7 ft. 10 in. wheelbase ; Type 23, 68 x 100, 11.4 h.p., 8 ft. 4 in. wheelbase ; 11.9-h.p. standard ” Modified Brescia,” 09 X 100 ; 11.9-h.p. standard Sports Model or ” Full Brescia,” 69 x 100.
In 1926 a branch Of the factory was established at Brixton.
The above particulars are collected from The Autocar by courtesy of A. L. Moir, West Bank, Lancaster, who owns a complete edition, and from memory, the writer having purchased his first 16-valver from B. S. Marshall in June, 1921,, an,d his last and present from F. H. Itatabling,, in 1937. It is a thousand pities the 16-valve Bugatti went out of production, as a modernised version would still be outstanding, and the object of the design—-It
igh-speed cruising with economy–is still very desirable, and not easily obtainable on present-day ears, which are apt to mop up the juice when mopping up the miles. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• •••• ••••• ••• •• • •• •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• •••• ••••• ••• •• • •• • ALIBI
An American banker, charged with driving at 65 miles an hour, said : ” I was afraid someone would bump into me from behind.”
The police gave him a prize of five dollars “for the most original alibi given by an arrested Motorist.”–Daily Express.