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  Bugatti Type 39

  Article Image gallery (10) 4604 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1925
Numbers built:12 (Type 39 and Type 39A)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 09, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionSoon after the First World War ended, Ettore Bugatti picked up production of the sophisticated Bugatti road cars. They were powered by nifty four cylinder engines with a single overhead camshaft, actuating either eight or sixteen valves. In the early twenties Bugatti's first track success was scored with the sixteen valve engine, which significantly increased Ettore Bugatti's interest in racing. For the first time he set about developing a racing car from the ground up, although many of the parts were designed to be used on future road cars as well.

To be competitive at the highest level, a little more than the 1500 cc currently available was required, so it was the first real chance for Ettore Bugatti to turn his plans for an eight cylinder engine into metal. Constructed by joining two four cylinder engine blocks and displacing just under 3 litres, the Type 28 engine was the first to sport Bugatti's familiar three valve layout. Installed vertically in the head, the two inlet valves and one exhaust valve were operated by a single overhead camshaft. Before the project could be completed, the rules were changed in favour of 2 litre engines and just one rolling Type 28 chassis was constructed.

In accordance with the new regulations, Bugatti set about developing a smaller eight cylinder engine. It was of a slightly simpler construction with just three, instead of nine ball bearings to support the crank, but the valvetrain was retained. It was also the first engine to sport the unusual, but Bugatti trademark ultra-square design. Installed in a four cylinder chassis, the Type 30 was raced with some success in 1922, particularly at Strassbourg. In 1923 the 2 litre engine powered the 'aerodynamic' Type 32 Tank, but reliability issues forced Ettore Bugatti to return to the drawing boards, with an epic result.

Many of the reliability issues were cured by adding two more ball bearings to support the crank. As before, the eight cylinder engine was mated to a four speed gearbox derived directly from the four cylinder cars. The drivetrain was installed in a simple ladder frame, suspended by rigid axles on both ends. The inverted quarter elliptic springs fitted inboard at the rear would become another Bugatti trademark. The most characteristic features on the Type 35 were the cast alloy wheels with integral drum brakes and detachable rims. The package was rounded off by a tightly wrapped aluminium body dominated by the horseshoe radiator.

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  Article Image gallery (10) 4604 Specifications