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    Feb 2005

    Bugatti Type 54 1932-1934

    The Bugatti Type 54 was created in 1931 and there were around six examples created. They were intended to serve as a replacement for the successful Bugatti Type 35. Under the bonnet was a twin overhead camshaft engine in nearly 4.9-liter form and enhanced with the use of a supercharger. The 300 horsepower unit was able to carry the car at speeds of 200 km/h.

    Bugatti had built other racers that they intended to use as a replacement for the Type 35, such as the 45/47 but with little success. It featured two parallel engines and was intended to for high speed tracks.

    The Type 54 was created in less than two weeks. Bugatti used a Type 54 chassis and married it with a Type 50 engine. The result was the Type 54. A three speed gearbox, instead of the traditional four, was used to handle the massive amount of power and send it to the rear wheels. The gearbox had been built specifically for the Type 54 and reinforced to increase its rigidity. The ladder frame was suspended in place by a live axle in both the front and rear. The drum brakes were operated by a cable.

    Two Type 54s made their debut at Monza and were driven by Louis Chiron and Archille Varzi. Varzi was able to finish in third place, though both cars would have faired better had they not suffered tire problems and had better brakes. The cars were fast, but they difficult to handle, due to the frame construction and the tremendous amounts of power produced by the engine. On the courses with the long straight stretches, the car did rather well, such as at Avus where Varzi secured a win. In 1933, at the Monza Grand Prix, Count Stanislas Czaykowski was killed and the Grand Prix racing career of the Type 54 ended. Rule changes the following year secured the Type 54's fate, as the weight limit was limited to 750 kg. The Type 54 weighed 950 kg. The Type 54 continued to race in the Formula Libre class and at least two were converted for road use.
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