Ettore Bugatti zbudował swoją reputację, tworząc szybkie i niezawodne samochody o lekkich i kompaktowych nadwoziach, wyposażone w wyścigowe silniki. Nie inaczej było w 1925 roku, kiedy wprowadził na rynek Type 39, wyścigową konstrukcję wyposażoną w silnik o pojemności 1500 cm³, zgodnie z wytycznymi Voiturette dla ówczesnych regulacji w Formule 2. Na wyniki nie trzeba było czekać długo. Bugatti Type 39 Grand Prix zadebiutowały na Grand Prix de Tourisme w Montlhéry w czerwcu 1925 roku. Cztery nowe samochody startujące w fabrycznym zespole ukończyły klasę na miejscach 1-4. Jednym z nich było Bugatti o numerze nadwozia 4607, dziś oferowane na aukcji. Oczywiście wówczas szczytem marzeń dla każdego producenta było Grand Prix Włoch. W 1925 roku odbyło się ono równolegle z Gran Premio delle Vetturette, w którym Bugatti konkurowało pełnym zespołem pięciu trzydziestek dziewiątek. Bugatti Type 39 okazały się szybkie i niezawodne, a oferowane do sprzedaży 4607 uplasowało się na 7. miejscu. To jednak nie koniec kariery tego wspaniałego egzemplarza. W 1926 roku samochód pojawił się w Australii, gdzie najpierw otrzymało turbosprężarkę, a później silnik V8 Forda, ustanawiając nowe rekordy w wyścigach górskich. Dopiero koło 1974 roku Bugatti przywrócono do fabrycznej specyfikacji. Dziś 4607 prezentuje się w pełni sił i sprawności. Samochodowi towarzyszy kompleksowa historia i raport z inspekcji opracowany przez szanowanych brytyjskich specjalistów Bugatti, Davida Sewella i Marka Morrisa. Bugatti Type 39 Grand Prix wycenione zostało na 1 – 1,4 miliona euro, czyli około 4,5 – 5,9 miliona złotych, a licytowane będzie w przepięknym otoczeniu Grand Palais już 6 lutego.
1925 Bugatti Type 39 Grand prix Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. 4607 Engine no. 7
€ 1,050,000 – 1,400,000
PLN 4,500,000 – 5,900,000
Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais
Paris, The Grand Palais
The Ex-works/Giulio Foresti, Ex-Carl Junker 1931 Australian GP-winning
1925 Bugatti Type 39 Grand prix Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. 4607
Engine no. 7
All the sophistication of Ettore Bugatti’s famously thoughtful design ethic is embodied within this wonderfully well-presented ex-works racing Bugatti Type 39, as manufactured at the charismatic Molsheim factory in 1925…
Mr Bugatti built his reputation upon creating rapid and reliable motor cars endowed with competitively powerful engines in light, compact, and nimble chassis. Above all he clearly grasped the over-riding importance of a high power-to-weight ratio in contrast to some other quality car constructors to whom overall weight seemed irrelevant compared to achieving the highest possible power not necessarily out there on the open road, nor race circuit, but in the engine test-house…
While combining in so many of his sporting models high power, minimal mass and a good-handling, driveable chassis, Ettore Bugatti also manufactured most of them in sufficient numbers to attract, and to satisfy, broad demand from a moneyed and dashingly competition-minded market.
In 1924 Mr Bugatti had launched his 2-litre Type 35 design, and by 1925 the Type 39 followed to comply with maximum 1500cc Voiturette racing regulations – effectively the Formula 2 of the time. Use of a short-stroke crankshaft in the straight-8 cylinder engine provided bore and stroke measurements of 60mm x 66mm, displacing 1493cc. Possibly Mr Bugatti was anticipating the overall Grand Prix capacity limit rule change for 1926-27 which would cut maximum permitted engine capacity from 2-litres to 1½.
The Type 39s made their debut in the Grand Prix de Tourisme at Montlhéry south of Paris, France, in June 1925. The four new works team cars promptly finished 1-2-3-4 in their class, and in 3rd place was ‘4607’ now offered here, driven by Giulio Foresti.
Of course the pinnacle of road racing competition during the 1920s was the Grand Prix arena, and when the1925 Italian Grand Prix at Monza Autodrome was run concurrently with the 1500cc Gran Premio delle Vetturette the Bugatti company contested it with a full team of five Type 39s.
The race was run over 80 laps of the Milanese Autodrome’s 10km combined road and high-speed track. Bugatti’s team captain was Bartolomeo ‘Meo’ Costantini, teamed to drive with Jules Goux, Pierre de Vizcaya, Count Carlo Masetti and Count Aymo Maggi, who was replacing Ferdinand de Vizcaya, the Spanish banker – and backer of the Bugatti company – who arrived late from Barcelona. And when Count Masetti had to stand down due to a leg injury, it was Giulio Foresti who took his place to drive ‘4607’ in the long race…
As the Gran Premio developed, the Bugattis not only dominated the Voiturette category but also climbed the leader board amongst the full 2-litre Grand Prix cars. Finally – after 5hrs 44mins 40.91secs to be precise (the Italian lap-scorers immensely proud of their then-new hundredth-second timing equipment) the Gran Premio delle Vetturette was decided with Costantini’s Bugatti Type 39 winning from the sister cars of Ferdinand de Vizcaya and Giulio Foresti, respectively 2nd and 3rd. Pierre de Vizcaya’s Type 39 placed fourth while Jules Goux’s engine had failed after 64 of the 80 laps. Overall, the Bugatti Type 39s had proved so fast and reliable that Costantini finished the Grand Prix 3rd overall, Ferdinand de Vizcaya 6th and Foresti in ‘4607’ now offered here, 7th.
A record survives of this car and its sister ‘4604’ both being sold soon after to the British importer, Colonel Sorel in London, and it is thought that Giulio Foresti – an accomplished ‘wheeler-dealer’ in his own right – then found an eager buyer for the pair – one A.V.Turner – in Australia, although alternative reference suggests that ‘4607’ was imported there by prominent Vauxhall driver Boyd Edkins.
On June 19, 1926, the car certainly appeared upon Sydney’s high-banked Maroubra Speedway driven by a friend and colleague of Edkins, Dick Clarke. While the Type 39s – or ‘Monzas’ as they became known in Australia – became particularly noted for their wonderfully high-pitched exhaust note, they were not well-suited to Maroubra, since they were over-geared for the tight Speedway. Clarke was still able to win a heat there on September 4, 1926, and ‘4607’ lapped the speedbowl at 86mph. At Penrith Clarke won a heat and a semi-final before taking 2nd and 3rd places in two further events. Then back at Maroubra for the January, 1927 meeting Clarke won two heats and took 2nd in a final.
The car later passed to 20-year-old Sid Cox, son of a wealthy building magnate. The young man also had a Bugatti Type 40 which he used as a tender when he took ‘4607’ to Philip Island, Melbourne, Victoria, to race in the 1928 Australian Grand Prix. With friend Ken McKinney alongside him Sid Cox practised for the great race only for bronze filings to be found in the oil filter, a sign that the power unit’s bronze roller-bearing cages were failing. On race day, sure enough, ‘4607’s engine broke a connecting rod.
A new crankcase and sump were bought for the car, but the old sump was used in the rebuild, mated to the new crankcase. Cox then sold ‘4607’ to poster-artist Reg St John who became noted for maintaining the Bugatti in utterly pristine, highly polished and well-cherished condition. He reportedly used it to parade up and down Swanston Street, Melbourne, admiring his reflection in the shop windows. And why not?
However, Australian racer Carl Junker then acquired the car and – with Reg Nutt as his riding mechanic – he entered it in the 1931 Australian GP again at Philip Island. They were running second behind Hope Bartlett’s Bugatti Type 37A on the penultimate lap when its engine failed, Junker and Nutt joyously inheriting outright Grand Prix victory for ‘4607’. Ernie Nutt had tuned the car and he would recall that Junker used 7,000rpm through the gears, ‘4607’ achieving 55mph in 1st, 72mph in 2nd and 103mph in 3rd.
Racing again in the 1932 Australian GP, Junker improved his lap times but fell victim to spark-plug trouble which meant he could finish only 5th. Completing the long race ahead of him that day was Merton Wreford in his Brescia Bugatti, and he later bought ‘4607’ from Junker, reputedly after it had suffered another engine failure.
Mert Wreford fixed the problem and then entered the Type 39 in the 1933 Australian GP in which he found himself confronted by Carl Junker in the sister 1925 Bugatti ‘Monza’ – chassis ‘4604’. These two Type 39s proved to be the class of that Grand Prix field and after Junker’s engine blew-up, Wreford moved into the lead, only for ‘4607’s engine to fail on the third-last lap. Evidently the two broken ‘Monzas’ were left parked together at trackside – but Mert Wreford had recorded the race’s fastest lap.
A new owner was then found for ‘4607’ in specialist Jack Day of the Ajax Pump Works who fitted ‘4607’ with his own ‘Day’ supercharger, driven from the crankshaft nose. He made his debut with the supercharged car in the August, 1933, Frankston hill-climb. But when the forced-induction experiment disappointed, Jack Day removed the Bugatti engine and fitted instead a Ford V8. This Type 39 thus became the first Australian special to be powered by a ‘black iron’ American Ford V8. The resultant Day Special proved very successful through 1936, setting new hill-climb records at Mitcham and Rob Roy. Reg Nutt raced the car in monoposto form at Phillip Island, 1937, and in the South Australian GP in 1938.
After World War 2, Bondi Beach surf life-saver, water-skier and amateur wrestler ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray bought ‘4607’ in its Day Special form from Jack Day, the price £1,100.
‘Gelignite Jack’ would earn his nickname from blowing up rural dunnies with sticks of gelignite during the RedeX Round Australia Trials. Every man needs a hobby….
The car “was given the full Murray red paint and chrome treatment” and in it he set fastest time and finished 5th on handicap in the 1946 New South Wales GP at Bathurst. Returning there n 1947 he was tipped to win, but failed to finish. The car was clocked at 106mph. At the 1948 Bathurst 100 the Day Special was recorded at 117mph and placed 3rd on handicap in the over 1500cc class. Overheating often afflicted the car in its Ford V8-engined form, but ‘Gelignite Jack’ continued to campaign the ageing special into 1954 when he was an amazing 4th fastest and 7th on handicap at the Bathurst Easter Meeting.
Subsequently the car survived in storage at Murray’s Bondi garage, until he sold it – accompanied by a mass of related Bugatti components – to marque enthusiast Ted Lobb. While the original Type 39 chassis survived within the Day Special, Ted Lobb also had its original engine ‘No 7’ – which was fitted in his sister car ‘4604’ – so now he also owned the blown-up engine ‘No 6’ – originally in ‘4604’ – from Jack Day. Around 1974, Ted Lobb sold the Day Special and engine ‘No 6’ plus numerous other related Bugatti parts to Bob King, who later decided to rebuild ‘4607’ to its 1925 Italian Grand Prix ‘Monza’ form.
He would later write: “The monumental rebuild was completed in the early 1980s, using a Type 39 crankshaft which came from Lance Dixon’s Type 51A ‘4847’. The crankshaft – numbered ’27’ – was in perfect ex-factory condition, all parts carrying matching factory numbers. A gearbox casing was obtained in England from Ian Preston. The differential is Type 38, suitably altered, from the Nuttbug (BC4)”. He concluded “‘4607’ was sold to Art Valdez of California in 1986…”.
This restored Bugatti Type 39 was then shipped to Bangkok, Thailand, in time for new owner Art Valdez to drive it in the December 5, 1987, Prince ‘Bira’ commemorative Bangkok Grand Prix meeting. Anton Perera reported in ‘The Nation’ newspaper: “There in the parade was the oldest car of them all, a Bugatti Type 39 – all of 62 years with a 1493cc engine. And didn’t the smooth engine purr with noise, indicating that it could be a danger on the 2.5km Pattaya Circuit next week…Yes, the 1931 Australian Grand Prix winner looked in perfectly good trim and ready to turn on the speed…”
John Fitzpatrick of the Australian Bugatti Register later reported how at Pattaya, where the Vintage race “ended an absolutely magical fortnight…Art Valdez was euphoric after his first race in a GP Bugatti…as Neil Corner wrote recently ‘…To have your GP Bugatti motoring well is to live with the gods…'”.
The car was preserved within Mr Valdez’s Californian ownership until in April 1993 he telephoned former owner Bob King to declare his intention to sell it. However, it was not until 2017 that the car subsequently passed from Art Valdez into the ownership of the present vendor.
Today ‘4607’ presents very well indeed, having recently benefited from a mechanical inspection, strip-down and rebuilt by Tony Ditheridge’s renowned Hawker Racing concern in Milden, Suffolk, England. This work included thorough cleaning and re-commissioning – even to the extent of fitting new valve springs. This ex-works Bugatti warhorse was then unleashed successor on the open road. Now, subject to the usual inspections and personal set-up adjustments, ‘4607’ is poised for an active 2020 motoring season.
The car is accompanied by a comprehensive historical overview and inspection report compiled by the highly respected British Bugatti specialists David Sewell and Mark Morris.
In summary they confirm that “Type 39 chassis ‘4607’ presents itself today as a recognised and well recorded example of the 8-cylinder GP Bugatti”. They continue: “One key factor that must be recorded is that the major components are of Molsheim manufacture”. The chassis frame is No 61 – while they report that the Molsheim lower (engine) crankcase is ‘7’ ex-‘4604’ – the Molsheim upper (engine) crankcase is ‘114’ – the Molsheim cambox ‘No 7’ – the Molsheim gearbox ‘No 113’ – the Molsheim gearbox lid No ‘856’ – while the Molsheim rear axle centre casing has been modified from that of a touring car, ratio 12×54, ‘No 284’.
So here BONHAMS is delighted to commend to the market this Bugatti Type 39 – the eminently useable (and potentially so enjoyable – and so raceable) winner of the 1931 Australian Grand Prix – and previously works driver Giulio Foresti’s works team car, with third place in the 1925 Grand Prix de Tourism –third place in the 1925 Italian Gran Premio delle Vetturette at Monza – and 7th in the overall Italian Grand Prix, all so prominent within its history.
Just one decisive bid, and this fine example of Le Pur Sang – which such a jam-packed history on both road and track – could be yours…