Bugatti versus Bentley


Mr Ronald K Hunter’s letter has probably caused much amusement among Bugattistas. Fancy trying to repudiate the fact that the Bugatti is a superbly designed and constructed motor car, and in comparison the Bentley is a heavy, trundling monster !

By quoting a few race results, Mr Hunter hopes to convince us that the Bentley sailed to victory with a field of Bugattis trailing miserably behind. He tells us that nothing but a good handicap will beat a Bentley, so let us take the first race mentioned, the 1928 six-hours. Curzon (Bugatti) led the race until he retired with ignition trouble, but one was left with the glorious picture of Campbell in another Bugatti taking the lead and holding it until he burst a tyre. After this delay he retired when his fuel filter broke. The two Bugattis were out of the race, so there was a chance for the Bentleys. In the second race quoted, the 1928 TT, Campbell again led with a Bugatti, and was still in the lead when a fire broke out as he was refuelling. Water was used on the fire, causing it to spread, and so Campbell was out of the race. Curzon, in the light of this incident, retired when he developed a fuel leak. We need go no further—Mr Hunter’s list of results may be dismissed as worthless.

There are several facts which must be stated and accepted : (i) The Bugatti has won more races than any other make of car ; (ii) In the ’20s, the Bugatti won more races than all other makes put together ; (iii) The Bugatti gained the World Championship in 1926 by winning 1,047 races in this and the preceding year, 806 first places were gained in 1927.

It is easy to compile a list of track events in which Bentleys and other cars appeared victorious, for “EB” was not interested in such events. He maintained that the true test of a car was an event run on the roads. Here the Bugatti reigned supreme—it won the Targa Florio five times in succession.

Mr Hunter says nothing could beat a Bentley. The best this marque could do at Le Mans was a win with a 61/2-litre car at 75 mph. A few years later a Bugatti with an engine half the size set a record of 85 mph. Two years later, another Bugatti increased this to 86 mph, and it remained unbroken until 1950. Further figures and comparisons are, I think, unnecessary.

If Mr Hunter will admit he is prejudiced and realise that the Bugatti is superior in every way (except comfort !) to any other car of its time (and to many later ones), this controversy can be ended. I will conclude by quoting from Continental Sports Cars, by W Boddy. Ettore Bugatti was “the designer and creator of some of the most beautiful fast cars ever conceived, and of the world’s most consistently successful car.”

Vice la memoire du Patron !

Vive le supreme Bugatti !

Vive Is pur sang !

 I am, Yours, etc.,

John M Bell, Kidderminster.