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Thread: Three Generation of my family's cars: Bugatti, Bugatti, Alfa

  1. #1
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    Three Generation of my family's cars: Bugatti, Bugatti, Alfa

    It's like Duck Duck Goose. These are two of my grandfather's currently three Bugattis and my car. The Bugs are both 1927s, the one on the left (touring car) is a Type 40 and the Grand Prix car is a Type 37 (sorry, not A). I say three generations of cars because the Type 40 is basically my dads, he did the mechanical restoration of the car and it lives at our house. He also has a '32 Type 49 with an inline eight. Oh yeah, my lil ol hatchback is an '83 GTV6. Yeahhh it's got the Hemi I've driven all of the Bugs, actually the first time I drove two of them was the weekend this picture was taken. Quite an experience.

    I won't be able to egg nog them for a while yet since the Alfa is tarped over and the Bugs are back home but hellcat can back me up and I have plenty more pictures.
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    Last edited by xander18; 02-15-2013 at 05:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    Great stuff. Love all three of them! It looks like they are driven regularly, which how it should be!
    If you should see a man walking down a crowded street talking aloud to himself, don't run in the opposite direction, but run towards him, because he's a poet. You have nothing to fear from the poet - but the truth.

    (Ted Joans)

  3. #3
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    Excellent indeed.

    How do they feel, to drive?
    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

  4. #4
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    Wow!

    That's an awesome collection there!

    Where do you go to get them serviced? Or do you work on them yourselves?

  5. #5
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    Driving impressions, hmm. Well first, they're all straight cut, non synchroed gearboxes. So you can imagine that's quite a challenge. The shifters don't rotate about an axis, they slide back and forth and rotate into the gears. Here's a picture, makes it clearer. But you're rev matching every upshift and downshift, lots of heel toeing (not optional). The throttle 'pedal' isn't flat, it's a little knuckle. (Pictured, look to the right of the skinny pedal) Most cars nowadays have two points of rotation in the gas, the pedal arm swings and the pedal rotates on the arm. In an old Bugatti the other point of rotation is the ball of your foot rolling on that knuckle. It's actually very comfortable and I like it a lot.

    You can't NOT grind 1st to 2nd unless you're a pro because it goes through reverse to get to 2nd. 4th gear is fun because in 4th, power no longer goes through the counter shaft. 4th gear just drives the output right off of the input shaft. You shift up through 1-3 and the gear noise is incredibly loud, then you hit 4th and it just goes away. The 8 cylinder car (the Type 49, not pictured) has enough torque to wind out 1st and drop right into 4th, which you do every time you're not on a hill. Speaking of which, that car is right hand drive (like they all are), but it has a reversed shift pattern and the clutch pedal in the middle. Also it was just restored so you can imagine I was very nervous driving it. When you purchased your new Bugatti way back when they would send a mechanic out with you for a day to teach you how to drive it. I knew that driving was far more of a skill then than it is now, but I didn't realize quite how much so.

    The Type 40 is powered by the same 1500cc four cylinder engine as the T37 but is a much heavier body, making it the pokiest of any of them. That said, after the mechanical restoration it's very reliable and as lively as it ever could be. My parents have driven from VT to Albany (3 hours) and from VT to NYC for a Bugatti rally (6 hours) in it. My parents enjoyed touring in it so much that my Dad got an old Alfa Spider to do the same thing but with less risk. Of interesting note, that particular Type 40 was once owned by Virgil Exner Jr, who vintage raced it in Michigan. Here he is in that car, note the very distinctive fenders that identify it. The history of that car implies that those fenders might have been prototypes for some of the more notable cars like the Atlantic that were retrofitted to this car when it went back to the factory at Molsheim for a refresh in the '50s. Unconfirmed though.

    The Type 37 is the most fun just by virtue of it being light weight and a race car. It was built specifically to be vintage raced and was extensively, the Watkins Glen stickers were earned. We're not racing it anymore, too hard on the car and there are Pur Sangs for that. I want to say it weighs about 1200 lbs but that's off the top of my head. As far as I know, the Type 35-37-39 series is one of the most successful racing cars ever produced. Little factoid from the wiki page, they won over 1000 races and averaged 14 race wins per week at the peak of their career.

    The tall tires and small contact patches make for a peculiar handling sensation. They like to wheel hop around a corner but the small contact makes for a high pounds per square inch. They have a lot of initial grip but little steady state grip. So if you jerk the steering wheel around while cruising down the straight away it's right there with you but when you try to lean into a long hard corner you're going to lose the rear end. That's why the T37 (which has the shifter hanging out the right hand side of the car) also has a handbrake out there for the rear wheels. You power slide every fast corner then just rip the handbrake to reign the rear of the car back in. The T37 does about 100 though I've only had it to 75 or so. The dampers are a rotary friction plate design, like these Alfa shocks of the same era. You adjust them by changing the preload on the friction plates. But the whole suspension is very stiff, even on the touring cars. Solid axle front and rear.

  6. #6
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    Some more pictures. I don't have permission to post my grandfather's face so I tried to cover it up as presentably as I could
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for posting! You're one of only a handful of people that have gotten to drive such vintage machinery and it's very cool to have a first hand account of what it's like for those of us that will probably never get the opportunity

  8. #8
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    Oh my goodness you're a lucky man. The things I would do to drive a vintage Bugatti.....
    "Don't think your time on bad things
    Just float your little mind around"
    Jimi Hendrix

  9. #9
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    I venerate experiences like this.

    Then again I have been able to drive a RHD Jag XK150 so I suppose my lucky days are already past me lol
    An it harm none, do as ye will

    Approximately 79% of statistics are made up.

  10. #10
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    Though the Bugattis have the wow factor, don't underestimate the fun of the Alfa, carbon-monoxide giggles notwithstanding.
    "Kimi, can you improve on your [race] finish?"
    "No. My Finnish is fine; I am from Finland. Do you have any water?"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by f6fhellcat13 View Post
    Though the Bugattis have the wow factor, don't underestimate the fun of the Alfa, carbon-monoxide giggles notwithstanding.
    And it has the lovely V6 engine... a great 'un!
    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrer View Post
    And it has the lovely V6 engine... a great 'un!
    I really love that little car. I can put up another post about it later on but I bought it cause it's a slightly rusty, beat up, not particularly desirable example. Why you might ask? Well, as an engineer I can characterize my plans with this vehicle thusly: percentage of stock components will decrease in a manner inversely proportional to my personal financial wealth. I didn't want to butcher a beautiful one so I got one that I wouldn't feel bad about modifying.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by xander18 View Post
    I can put up another post about it later on but I bought it cause it's a slightly rusty, beat up, not particularly desirable example. Why you might ask? Well, as an engineer I can characterize my plans with this vehicle thusly: percentage of stock components will decrease in a manner inversely proportional to my personal financial wealth. I didn't want to butcher a beautiful one so I got one that I wouldn't feel bad about modifying.
    Please do.

    There's a bloke selling a '87 75 2.5 V6 very close to home. I was considering buying it, unfortunately I'm too broke at the moment...
    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

  14. #14
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    These are great finds. It's hard to see those classic Bugatti now.




    steven barbarich
    Last edited by Bandycotter; 03-04-2013 at 04:05 AM.
    "Each person must live their life as a model for others."

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