Bugatti

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Type 55

Type 35

It was sometime in the 70's when I first became aware of Bugatti. There was an exhibition in London entitled "The Amazing Bugattis" and amazing they were. As well as Ettore (who designed clothing and equestrian tack amongst other things as well as his cars and the factory tools used to produce them) there was Rembrandt (named after the painter whom the family knew) the painter, sculptor and furniture designer. But it was the cars that caught my eye. As I remember it was a Type 35 Grand Prix car that was featured, and I was just bowled over by the sheer artistry of the car - its lines, proportions, use of polished steel and brass, and the quality of the workmanship like the engine turning of the back of the dashboard.

Since then I have gathered a number of models, posters, postcards, paintings, jigsaws, greetings cards etc most of which are exhibited round our house, with my wife's blessing, (well, most of the GP cars are blue, her favourite colour).

We are fortunate to live quite close to the hill-climb circuit at Prescott near Cheltenham where these fabulous cars are raced up the hill at the Classic and VSCC meetings. As well as the GP cars owners take their saloons and a little more sedately, cavalcade around the circuit during the lunch break.

May 2014 - Mille Miglia

With a pal living in Bologna it was a great opportunity to see both the start in Brescia as well as the overnight stop in Bologna on the way back to the finish. Flew from Stansted to Bologna Thursday morning at some ungodly hour then we drove to Brescia via the Lamborghini factory near Modena. Brescia atmosphere was brilliant, in the afternoon the cars were dotted around the street and piazzas with free access. In the evening people lining the street with the cars giving a bit of a show as they did a circuit of the town from the start ramp. Police lining part of the route but taking absolutely no notice of people walking or cycling in the road and crowding in making the passage narrower and narrower.

Friday on Lake Garda then Saturday we went to Imola ostensibly to see Senna's memorial, to find there was a round of the Le Mans European series and the Porsche GT3 cup that weekend. Free parking, free grandstand for the practice and qualifying, and for 10 euros into the paddock where you could wander around at will. No restrictions, even into the backs of the garages to take pictures of the cars with the covers off, the engineers and all the kit, a terrace overlooking the pits, the usual race event young ladies, and a Senna exhibition. Then back to Bologna for the return of the Mille Miglia cars.

Absolutely insane with Bologna being busy on a Saturday night without the Mille Miglia coming through - unrestricted crowds, cars driving in to park in one of the piazzas to park up for the night with no security. You've got to love the Italians for their enthusiasm and flamboyance and organised chaos. Despite the total lack of restrictions and some hold-ups no one was being stupid, with the car occupants hooting and waving in good humour. 22 Bugattis started out and all bar one completed the event, which is a pretty fantastic achievement.

November 2010, Classic Car Show Birmingham


First visit for some years, and a very nice display by the Bugatti Owners Club

August 2009, a bar in Albert, northern France

August 5th/6th 2006, VSCC Prescott ... Not!

Didn't make up our minds until the Sunday morning dawned warm and sunny. The forecasters kept changing their minds, and still didn't get it right. Arrived at Prescott to find fields full of campers, and directed to one of several overflow fields, and this at 10am. Saw signs on the roadside saying the price was 25 - per person! This is outrageous, the facilities on the site are minimal with precious few good viewing points even at a 'normal' meeting with probably half or less of the attendance. Taking cash only, and having only brought 40, we declined. The 'See Red' event at Donnington was only 15 last year, with far more going on, lots of grandstands, and classic and modern Ferrari and Maserati events to boot. Even the VSCC event at Shelsley Walsh in previous years has only been 20, and I put that down to them desperately needing the money to buy the lease for the track. If this becomes the norm, and splitting the field for the Bugatti Classic over two days continues, I doubt we shall be attending again, and we will all lose out.

July 2006

My first visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Celebrating 100 years of Grand Prix racing there were loads of veteran, vintage and classic racers as well as modern stuff. A good example of "From the sublime to the 'Gor Blimey'" were this Type 35C and the Veyron. A really pleasing touch was that the Type 35 was chosen for the first car in the series of Sand Art cars demonstrating the evolution of the GP car.

June 2002, Bugatti Classic Prescott

A real disappointment this year. Not only did it rain to a lesser or greater degree all day, but this year the event was split into two with one half doing practice and race runs on the Saturday and the other half doing them on the Sunday. In all previous years cars got two practice runs on the Saturday and two race runs on the Sunday. This meant there were only half the normal number of cars present, and a lot of classics I really enjoy seeing had been and gone on the Saturday. Also only 6 Bugattis were competing and 13 in the lunchtime cavalcade, significantly less than usual, with the like of Hugh Conway and John Marks absent for some reason. Add to that a hike in the entry fee to 10 per person plus 2.50 for the programme and what had always been a good-value day out is suddenly not. If they split the cars again in future years I may not attend.

June 2001, Bugatti Classic Prescott

An action-packed meeting for some of the wrong reasons. Early on we were down at the start and saw a stripped-out Scimitar GTE tear-off the line, smoke pouring off the tyres. As he passed us I thought "Funny, what's that big orange light on his dash signify?". Then a bit further on I wondered why smoke was coming out of his front arches. By this time he had gone out of sight and my attention turned back to the Start line where a bunch of officials were gazing at an enormous and spreading pool of oil! Fortunately he stopped before doing any terminal damage to his engine (he won his class on the next run) but it held things up while they dealt with the oil as best they could.

Next two people slid into the Armco on Pardon hairpin - the first (TVR Chimera) sounded like the throttle jammed open whereas the other (Pilbeam) just seemed like panic braking. Both had to be pulled clear of the Armco with a tractor but whilst the TVR drove off the course very gingerly, the Pilbeam driver got back in and the tractor drove off even though it (Pilbeam) had the front wheels pointing in different directions! More delay while the tractor was recalled to carry the Pilbeam off.

Finally a biker laid it down going into Ettores, and didn't get up again. The ambulance crew spent some time getting him on to the stretcher and away but we were all relieved to hear by the time he got back down to the Start he announced that all he needed was a cup of tea! You can't beat the restorative powers of the good old British cuppa.

July 2000, a bar on Cannery Row, Monterey, California

June 2000, Bugatti Classic Prescott

June 1999, Bugatti Classic Prescott

May 1998, Bugatti Classic Prescott

June 1997, Bugatti Classic Prescott

June 1995, Bugatti Classic Prescott

June 1993, Schlumpf Collection, Mulhouse, France

May 1993, Bugatti Classic Prescott

June 1992, Bugatti Classic Prescott

June 1991, Bugatti Classic Prescott

July 1986, motor museum, Vendee, France

A couple of Bugatti postcards from my own collection:

Some Bugatti links:

The Bugatti Page
The Bugatti Owners Club
The Bugatti Trust
The Bugatti Trust links page
The BOC Prescott Hillclimb School
The Schlumpf collection
A potted bio of the Type 35 and its creator
Classic and modern motor racing prints, models, books, videos, memorabilia, autographs,
Dozens of Bugatti collectibles on