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Type 59 Sports Roadster
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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1933 - 1936
Numbers built:At least six (two converted to sports cars)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 30, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionEttore Bugatti was one of the great racing car designers of the 1920s. Unfortunately his stubbornness and conservatism held him back in the following years. With religious conviction he continued to use solid axles and cable operated drum brakes at a time when the competition had moved forward with independent suspension and hydraulic brakes. It's a testament of Bugatti's talent that his 'old fashioned' Grand Prix cars were still relatively competitive. The last successful Bugatti Grand Prix racer, the Type 59, was built for the 1934 when the new '750 kg' regulations came into effect.

The Type 59's chassis was nearly identical to the one used for Bugatti's previous Grand Prix car, the Type 54. So much so that the chassis numbers of the new car actually started with '54', suggesting Bugatti actually considered them equal. A steel ladder frame formed the basis of the chassis. At the front the solidly mounted engine provided rigidity while rear halve was intentionally 'soft' to aid the handling. Unusually the front and rear axles were constructed from two halves treaded together in the middle, adding some flexibility to the traditional solid axles. Needless to say the large drum brakes were operated by cables.

While at first glance the straight eight engine fitted in the Type 59 also looked familiar, it did represent a brand new development. It was designed in 1933 for a dual purpose; to not only power the Type 59 but also the upcoming Type 57 grand tourer. It distinguished itself from the earlier designs by using six plain bearings for the crank instead of a roller bearing crank. The twin overhead camshafts were driven by gears and actuated two valves per cylinder. In Grand Prix specification, it was fitted with dry-sump lubrication and a Roots-type supercharger. At its debut the engine displaced 2.8 litre, which was soon enlarged to just under 3.3 litre.

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  Article Image gallery (20) 57248 Specifications