PROPERTY FROM THE OSCAR DAVIS COLLECTION
The ex-Edsel Ford
1926 BUGATTI TYPE 35A GRAND PRIX
Chassis No. 4719
Engine No. 71A
Cream with black leather upholstery
Engine: straight eight, single overhead camshaft, 24 valves, 1,991cc., circa 75bhp at 4000rpm; Gearbox: four-speed and reverse, right-hand gate change; Suspension: beam front axle on semi-elliptic springs, live rear axle on reversed quarter-elliptic springs, Bugatti friction shock absorbers all round, wire road wheels; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
Not only was the Type 35 Bugatti among the most successful racing cars of all time it was also remarkably successful commercially, having been produced in far greater numbers than any other before or since in the history of motor racing. The original Type 35 introduced in 1924 featured an expensive built-up roller bearing crankshaft with one-piece connecting rods, magneto ignition and alloy road wheels incorporating integral brake drums, and was utilized from the outset by Bugatti as their factory entry in all the major Grand Prix races of the day.
Although the car was never the most powerful in the Grand Prix arena, it nevertheless secured numerous victories for both the factory and an ever increasing number of wealthy amateur race drivers, not only in its native France but throughout Europe and the rest of the motor racing world. The principal reason for this success was its outstanding combination of all the desirable virtues for any sporting car, namely superb handling, road-holding, braking, gear-changing and steering, all of which were harnessed together as never before.
As a result the car's commercial possibilities were soon realized, and by mid-1925 the less expensive Type 35A model, often referred to as the Tecla or Course Imitation, was being offered as a fast road car also suitable for occasional competition use. Despite being little more than half the price of the full Grand Prix car, the Type 35A retained all the fine characteristics of that model, lacking only the roller-bearing crankshaft, the magneto ignition and the aluminum wheels. It behaved in other respects just as well as the full Grand Prix machine and despite its more modest power output it proved itself to be an adequately fast road or track car. At Brooklands, for example, while a Type 35 could lap at around 110mph the Type 35A proved itself to be only around 5mph slower.
Before long a cheaper four-cylinder model, the 1500cc Type 37, became available, while the addition of a supercharger to the racing cars ensured that they remained at the forefront of the Grand Prix scene. The inherent soundness of the original design was high-lighted seven years later with the introduction of the Type 51 twin-cam engined Grand Prix car which, with twice the power of the 1924 Type 35, proved its ability at the highest levels for another three seasons despite the remainder of the car being virtually unchanged.
This particular example, chassis no. 4719 fitted with engine no. 71A, was invoiced on 26th February 1926 for delivery to Bugatti's Paris showrooms. It was brought to the U.S.A. after reputedly having been purchased new by Henry Ford's son Edsel during a visit to Paris in 1928, so perhaps it had initially served as a demonstrator. The car was later retained by the Ford Motor Company and in due course added to their own collection where it remained for some fifty years. A large file of documentation relating to the Ford ownership accompanies this lot. The 1980 American Bugatti Club's Register described the car as being in 'excellent original (unrestored) condition'.
In around 1985 the car was sold to Tom Barrett who had the car restored by Sun Valley Classic of Arizona. A few years later he sold the car to Oscar Davis who in turn has used it very little, never even having had it registered for road use. Some years ago however he had a few cosmetic features that were felt to have been overdone in its previous restoration returned to their original state, so the car as now offered remains almost exactly as purchased by Edsel Ford back in 1928. The one concession to modern convenience is the fitment of a starter motor necessarily mounted on a replacement gearbox lid. The car was recently given a thorough check-over and overhaul where necessary by well-known vintage restorer Chris Leydon, and it is said to run and drive very well.
The car's only period of regular usage was for the first year or two of its life and it retains all its original mechanical components, as confirmed by their numbering, together with its coachwork including its unique cycle fenders, luggage racks and cases. It has correct period Marchal headlights, its original belt-driven Marchal-Vaucanson dynamo and a full complement of original instrumentation.
There can be very few, if indeed any other, surviving examples of the Type 35A Bugatti which have retained all their original component parts and have had such remarkably low usage from new. This car therefore represents a fine opportunity for a new owner to secure an outstandingly original example of this highly sought after model.