A couple of weeks ago Barry Boor found himself at the Mtahleb Hillclimb & Mdina Grand Prix, in between his marshaling duties he managed to take a few photographs of the Bugatti’s which visited Malta to take part in the events and has kindly agreed to share them with us.
Genuine Bugatti Type 35’s are extremely hard to come by, even Nick Mason’s example is a bitza made up from an assortment of parts from various cars into a complete vehicle, so it is no surprise to find that according to the best information I have available all the cars captured by Barry are replica’s like Gregory Ramouna’s Type 35B R, seen here on the Mtahleb hillclimb, which appears to have been built in 1998.
Type 35’s were first seen at the Grand Prix of Lyon in August 1924 powered by a 2 litre / 122 cui straight 8 motor. Novel features of the car included the alloy spoked wheels and hollow front axle which all saved unsprung weight to the benefit of the cars handling. Above is a Type 35 R with a 2 litre motor unlike the type 35B which has a 2.3 litre / 140 cui supercharged motor.
The Type 35’s were very successful allegedly clocking up to 14 wins a week with the Likes of “Williams” and Louis Chiron leading the way in major Grand Prix. The Type 35’s were replaced by the Type 51’s in 1931 but with only 160 hp from their supercharged motors the Type 51’s were soon to be overpowered by the government sponsored Auto Union and Mercedes Team’s. Above is the Type 51 R of Phillipe Brebant.
Type 35’s and 51’s are very difficult to tell apart externally and even the experts can disagree, to show how difficult this is the Mdina Grand Prix entry list tells us that JM Laffonts car above is a 1931 Type 35B while the Bugatti builder site tells us that his car carrying the same registration is a Type 51 from the now defunct Blaydon Engineering, further more the car is listed on yet another Bugatti Builders post as a Type 35B R. If the truth on the identity of this car were to be decided by popular vote Type 35B R would win with two votes. Though in my humble opinion the car we are looking at is either a Type 35 or 35B because if it was a Type 51 it ought to have an easily discernible second fuel filler behind the passenger seat what ever the vintage.
One rough and ready way to tell a Type 35 from a Type 51 is to look at the rear fuel filler behind the seats, if there is one it’s most likely a Type 35.
Barry was told the reason many of these vehicles, like this 2007 replica Type 35B about to head on up the hill towards the walled citadel of Mdina, appear with so much patina is to keep the value down in the eyes of the taxman.
My thanks to Barry for sharing this fascinating in sight into Maltese Motorsport.
Thanks for joining me on this “Bugs in Malta” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !