Bugatti's Iconic Type 35 Still Makes Hearts Flutter

A beautiful racer and a deluxe daily driver back in the day.

Behold the Bugatti Type 35, one of the most successful racing cars ever to roam the planet. Founder Ettore Bugatti's open-top masterpiece won more than 2000 races with a variety of chassis configurations in the Roaring Twenties, with its period of dominance running from 1924 to 1930. "The Type 35 was the founding father of a family of pure-blooded racehorses from Molsheim—a true thoroughbred," said Ettore Bugatti. He liked to use the term "pur sang" to describe the car, a term later applied to a small run of special lightened Veyrons.

One of the forefathers of the Veyron, Chiron, and Divo, the Bugatti Type 35 used a straight-eight engine that originally displaced just 2.0 liters and used a crankshaft supported by two roller bearings and three ball bearings, and which could rev to 6,000 rpm. Other innovations, including the use of two carburetors instead of one, helped boost output to 94 horsepower, and early Type 35s were able to achieve 118 mph. The more affordable 35A also packed a 2.0-liter eight-cylinder engine, but was tuned to make 74 horsepower. (The 37A was virtually identical, but had a four-cylinder engine.) Later, the Type 35B and 35C featured a displacement bump to 2.3 liters and a Roots-type supercharger; these made as much as 138 horsepower and could reach speeds as high as 134 mph.

The lightweight, aluminum-bodied 35 checked in at just over 1,650 pounds in racing trim and featured a hollow, forged, and sealed front axle to help keep weight down. Racing versions lacked even the most basic civilities, but private customers could order fenders and lighting for road use. The 35s rolled on cast aluminum wheels that featured integrated brake drums, as well as detachable rims—making it easier to replace one of eight flat, ribbon-style spokes in case of damage—and an additional rim ring to ensure the tires stayed seated. Bugatti built 340 Type 35s in all before ushering in its replacement, the Type 54, in 1931.

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