1928 BUGATTI TYPE 43 GRAND SPORT
Chassis No. 43242
Engine No. 9 ex-43164
Engine: straight eight, roller bearing crankshaft, single overhead camshaft, 24 valves, Roots-type supercharger with single up-draft Zenith 48K carburetor, magneto ignition, 2262cc., approximately 115bhp at 5000rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: beam front axle with half-elliptic springs, live rear axle with reversed quarter-elliptic springs; Brakes: drums integral with the alloy road wheels, automatically compensated cable system. Right hand drive.
The Type 43 Bugatti was introduced in early 1927 as a high-performance four-seater road car utilising a detuned version of the contemporary and highly successful Type 35B Grand Prix car's 2.3-litre engine fitted to its own unique chassis frame. The radiator, steering, gearbox and front and rear axles were however based closely upon those of the current touring model, the two-litre Type 38, whilst the Grand Prix model's brakes and distinctive alloy road wheels completed the specification. The car was certainly expensive in 1927 at 165,000 francs from the factory, ten per cent more than the Type 35B Grand Prix racing car! Nevertheless its outstanding performance ensured that it found sufficient ready buyers over the next four years.
Most Type 43 Bugattis were supplied with factory-built steel-panelled Grand Sport coachwork, although a number were supplied in chassis form to outside coachbuilders. Of the 160 cars built by the time production ended in 1931, most of the later examples were designated Type 43A signifying the then popular two-seat roadster style bodywork with a rumble seat in the tail. The model was used widely in contemporary major sports car events, from short and long distance races at Brooklands to the Ulster Tourist Trophy and the Irish Grand Prix and Continental venues such as Le Mans, Spa and the Alpine Trial. However, it must be conceded that, despite a few excellent results, for assorted reasons the model rarely performed consistently to its full potential in the classic events of the period.
The most ardent enthusiast for the Type 43 Bugatti in more recent times was undoubtedly the late Hugh Conway, widely acknowledged as the leading Bugatti authority of his day. He owned two examples for over thirty years and used them extensively as road cars, on rallies at home and abroad and in competition. In his standard reference work Grand Prix Bugatti, first published in 1968, he wrote this of the model: In 1927 the car was sensational. It had a top speed of about 110mph, 120mph being hinted at if the engine could be pursuaded up to 6000rpm in top gear (which it could not). It could accelerate to 60mph in less than twelve seconds and do a standing quarter mile in less than nineteen, or a standing kilometre under 35 seconds. You could (and can) put the car in top gear and start from the rest in this gear, the engine pulling like a steam engine. It would do 40, 60 and 80mph in first, second and third gears, and its large diameter brake drums on the aluminum GP wheels stopped it as well as any of its contemporaries. Road comfort was surprisingly good, and if the steering was not quite so responsive as that on the lighter, shorter Grand Prix car, it was still of Bugatti standard.
This particular car, fitted with Engine No. 82 and standard factory-built Grand Sport coachwork, was invoiced by the factory in October 1928 for delivery to Bugatti's Paris agency to be collected by its first owner who was named Paure. According to the factory delivery records, the car was driven by road from the Molsheim factory to their Paris showrooms on factory trade plates 1648 WW 5 between 1st and 5th October 1928. Its coachwork was recorded therein as 'carrosserie torpedo quatre places', in other words the standard Grand Sport body. These same records indicate that in February 1930 the car was again delivered to Paris from the factory, presumably following the repairs or an overhaul. The name of the man to whom it was delivered was given as Mondan, so he was probably the car's second owner.
Some years later the car became one of the very few Type 43 Bugattis to be imported to the U.S. before World War II, in about 1935 when its first American owner was Charles Sturgis of Boston. Exactly when the car had its original engine replaced is unclear, but Chassis No. 43164 from which its present engine was sourced was also a French delivery which was imported to Switzerland in March 1930 and has remained there since. Therefore the engine was almost certainly changed before the car came to the U.S., and probably before March 1930, so it may well have been when the car was known to be back at the factory the previous month.
The second American owner was George Crossland Taylor, a designer with Polaroid who used the car very little, and the third owner was a Mr. George Weaver of American sports car racing fame. Gene Cesari owned it in 1954 and then Jack Maggio of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1963, suspecting the imminent need for a costly restoration, he sold the car to Bunny Phillips who promptly carried out all the required mechanical and cosmetic work to restore the car throughout to fine original condition. As American Bugatti Club Registrar Andre Rheault aptly noted in the current ABC register, Such a list of owners reads like a veritable Who's Who of early American Bugattistes.
Chassis 43242 is today believed to be complete but disassembled; we recommend that potential buyers fully satisfy themselves as to the various parts that come with the car, as it is offered strictly 'as is'. The lower half of the driver's side of the bonnet is known to be missing and has been separated from the car for many years, even prior to Mr. Phillips' ownership. Once fully restored the car will be an ideal entrant at many Bugatti Club rallies or long distance touring events, including the Colorado Grand and Mille Miglia.