Lot 17

2013   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2013

1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix


$2,500,000 - $3,000,000




44 Registration No. YM 3412

Car Highlights

A Matching-Numbers, Original Bodied Type 35
An Early and Highly Correct Example of the Legendary Grand Prix Bugatti
Period Competition History Including Victory at Its First Race
Known Ownership from New
Unusually Original and Well Pedigreed
Serviced by Multiple Marque Experts
Documented by Bugat ti Historian David Sewell
One of the Finest Examples Extant

Technical Specs

1,991 CC SOHC Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Twin Solex 35MH Carburetors
95 BHP at 5,000 RPM
4-Speed Non-Synchromesh Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Live-Axle Suspension with Semi-Elliptical Front, Reversed Quarter-Elliptical Rear-Leaf Springs and Friction-Plate Shock Absorbers

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note that the magneto currently installed in this car appears to be a period-correct S.E.V. and not a Bosch FH8 as stated in the catalogue. Please also note that the engine rebuild described in the catalogue was performed by Ivan Dutton, not Malcolm Gentry.

Register to Bid

Formerly the Property of Woolf Barnato. The 1925 Olympia Motor Show

The Type 35 Grand Prix The 1920s saw a decade of advancement in Grand Prix racing in the competitive air of nationalism. Engineers and drivers who had sharpened their skills during WWI now battled with their countries’ finest machinery on circuits across Europe. The technical advancements were great and expectations for competing manufactures were continually heightened. The fields were made up of the era’s greatest marques, most of which proved contenders for outright victory.

Debuting at the 1924 French Grand Prix, the Type 35 was a significantly more modern racing car for Bugatti. It was intended not just to compete but also to win. And winning meant beating Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Delage, Itala, and Sunbeam, amongst others. The new Grand Prix car featured a five main bearing, overhead cam straight eight, which could rev freely to 6,000 rpm, producing 95 hp from just two liters. The chassis was extremely light and featured, for the first time, Bugatti’s well-known arrangement with the front leaf springs running through the hollow axle. Furthermore, Bugatti implemented the revolutionary cast alloy wheels, which included the brake drum.

The Type 35 Grand Prix would soon dominate the latter part of the decade, winning over 1,000 races. It is said that the Type 35 averaged 14 race wins per week and, by the close of 1926, the car had set 47 individual records. The Type 35 took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926, won the legendary Monaco Grand Prix three times, and the Targa Florio five times. Confirming Bugatti’s path to dominance was the Type 35’s ultimate roster of drivers, including Nuvolari, Chiron, Dreyfus, and Williams.

With production and development of the Type 35 well underway, the versatile and successful Bugatti was becoming a regular sight at sporting events around Europe including those in England. In part due to Malcolm Campbell’s international fame and his quick association with the Type 35, many other English sportsmen realized the merits of the French Grand Prix car.

This Car Completed in August 1925, chassis 4613 was subsequently sent to Bugatti’s new London agency. With enthusiasm, 4613 was displayed on the Bugatti stand at the Olympia Motor Show that October. In the following months, Malcolm Campbell was made Bugatti’s London agent for the sale of their racing cars, and, on December 11th the factory received its official order from Campbell for 4613. A second Type 35, 4610 was imported for Campbell in November, making these two cars the first of the model sold in the UK.

In January 1926, Campbell delivered 4613 to his noted contemporary, Woolf Barnato. Barnato, a wide- ranging sportsman and millionaire, best known for his financial interest in Bentley Motors and his successful campaigning of W.O.’s legendary sports cars, with which he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times. Interestingly enough, chassis 4610 was sold by Campbell to another Bentley works driver, Dr. Dudley Benjafield, illustrating that perhaps expectations of the Type 35 overshadowed a racing driver’s alliances.

That same January, 4613 was registered for road use in Barnato’s name with registration YM 3412. A photo from the period shows the Grand Prix Bugatti finished with road trim, including headlights, VDP-style long wings, and, unusually, painted wheels. A few months later Barnato entered his Type 35 in BARC’s (Brooklands Automobile Racing Club) Easter Monday Meeting. Given race number 1, 4613 was set to run the two-lap, 90 mph Short Handicap. Unannounced, the Type 35 was entrusted to the capable George Duller, who handily won 4613’s first race averaging 97.03 mph. On the second lap, Duller screamed around Brooklands at an average of 103.76 mph with the new, two-liter Bugatti.

For the Whitsun Monday Meeting at Brooklands in May, Campbell organized a Bugatti Handicap race in which Barnato entered 4613, but for unknown reasons he non-started. In August, however, the car was again entered for Duller for the Bank Holiday Meeting. Sporting race number 6, 4613 was driven to 3rd place in the Lightning Short Handicap, averaging an astonishing 106.65 mph on its final lap. Running at similar speeds, Duller then finished 2nd in the three-lap Lightning Long Handicap. Given Barnato’s numerous business activities and duties with Bentley Motors, the Type 35 was not entered in competition in 1927 and was subsequently sold in 1928.

Through London sports car dealer Jack Bartlett, the Bugatti came into the ownership of Stuart Tresilian, who would later have a hand in developing the Lagonda V12 with W.O. Bentley. At the time, however, Tresilian was an engineer with Rolls-Royce and he bought 4613 with his first year’s bonus. Tresilian competed with the Bugatti at several race meetings at Donnington, near Derby, where he found success. In May 1934, Tresilian drove 4613 to 8th in the 25-Mile Handicap and then won the day’s last race, setting the fastest lap. On at least one occasion, when in need of repair, Tresilian convinced Rolls-Royce to conduct the work on his Bugatti as an exercise in learning a competitor’s engineering methods. Photos during Tresilian’s ownership denote the continued existence of road trim with headlights and modified fenders.

In late 1934, however, Tresilian parted with 4613 and it passed to D.C. Tanner for a short time before coming into the hands of Leslie Bachelier in 1936. Bachelier operated a well-known Bugatti garage and owned and raced a number of Grand Prix Bugattis. In his care, Bachelier fitted 4613 with an upgraded 100 mm stroke crankshaft, which it retains today, subsequently increasing the engine capacity to 2.3 liters. In October 1936, the Bugatti was re-registered “EPF 761” and sold to P.F. Norton of Amersham, England. The Bugatti changed hands a number of times, but, in 1941, 4613 was purchased by motorcycle racer Stanley Martin of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Upon Martin’s unfortunate death in a motorcycle accident in 1946, the car returned to England. In August 1947, Claude Powell bought 4613 and enjoyed the car for nearly a decade before selling it to J. Winston Smith in 1956.

In 1961, noted Bugatti enthusiast Jack Horton aquired 4613 and occasionally competed with the car at Prescott before selling it to another noted marque hobbyist, Hamish Moffatt, in 1965. Moffatt used the Bugatti frequently in events, including the FIVA rally to New Zealand with co-driver and club member John Venables-Llewelyn. In 1974, Moffatt and 4613 took part in the 50th anniversary of the Type 35, bringing the car to Lyon. Finally in 1989, the car was loaned to a fellow club member for a French rally in which the car ran a bearing. Moffatt’s use of the car had decreased by that point and, upon its return, the car was left unrepaired.

In 2001, the Type 35 was purchased by collector Michael Gottsche who entrusted 4613 to Ivan Dutton to return it to running order. In the following years, the Type 35 participated in three retrospective Mille Miglias and numerous Bugatti events. During its ownership and event use, the car was upgraded with a new Targa fuel tank for increased capacity as well as a wider Targa radiator, and new wheels and tires of greater width (favored over the original beaded-edge arrangement). During this time, the Bugatti also received a full engine rebuild by Malcolm Gentry and remained in his care through 2010.

In late 2010, the Type 35 was acquired by a noted American collector. At the time marque expert and historian David Sewell inspected the Bugatti and found it to be in fantastically original order. Both numbers appeared where expected on the engine, while original factory stampings confirmed chassis 4613 with engine 44. The appropriate stamping of the number 86 was found in the rear chassis cross member and the chassis plate on the bulkhead, which further confirmed this chassis 4613. Additionally of interest, the engine number carries a prefix “1” and a suffix “B” making for “14613B,” which is noted in 1954’s The Bugatti Book.

Sewell further points out, “In other respects the car remains almost entirely to its correct original specification. Its engine is fitted with twin Solex 35MH carburetors and a Bosch FH8 magneto. It has an original hollow front axle, original gearbox no. 18, an original rear axle stamped only with its 14x54 axle ratio, original Grand Prix factory bodywork numbered 63 and period Marchal headlights but no other road equipment. The gearbox and body numbers are consistent with being those of Chassis No 4613. Hollow front axle beams were never numbered, nor were rear axles on early examples of the Type 35. In conclusion, this car is certainly one of the most original surviving examples of the early Lyon Type 35 Bugatti.”

During its most recent ownership, 4613 has been entrusted to Phil Reilly and Company for servicing. Additionally, during this time, the car’s original undertray was replicated and replaced. The original undertray was preserved and accompanies the car, as do the original narrow-width radiator, and properly datestamped narrow-width wheels. Given 4613’s overwhelming originality, particularly for a model synonymous with pedigree issues, it stands as one of the finest examples of the legendary Grand Prix Bugatti. Type 35 4613 further boasts period Olympia Motor Show history, notable owners and associations, period competition use, and known ownership. It is additionally documented by copies of factory records, photographs throughout its life, and invoices and correspondence documenting the last decade’s work conducted on the Bugatti.

There is perhaps no list void of the Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix when considering the greatest cars of all time. The Type 35 ranks among the finest Grand Prix cars given its phenomenal success in the sport alone. Additionally, it remains one of the most striking open wheel cars ever designed. The Type 35’s iconic status has only been furthered by contemporary replication. Its collectability has never wavered as Grand Prix Bugattis remain a staple of the world’s most highly regarded collections.

The Bugatti Type 35 presented here is assuredly world class with a purity and pedigree few of its contemporaries would dare rival.