PROPERTY FROM THE OSCAR DAVIS COLLECTION
1926 BUGATTI TYPE 38 TOURER
COACHWORK BY LAVOCAT & MARSAUD
Chassis No. 38221
Engine No. 371, ex-Chassis No. 38463
Red and black with red leather upholstery
Engine: straight eight, single overhead camshaft, 24 valves, 1,991cc., circa 70bhp at 4000rpm; Gearbox: four-speed with center gate change; Suspension: beam front axle with semi-elliptic springs, live rear axle with reversed quarter-elliptic springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
For the 1926 season Bugatti introduced two brand new touring models, the eight-cylinder Type 38 and the four-cylinder Type 40, respectively to replace the Type 30 and Type 23 models. Unlike the Type 40 which initially retained the same basic chassis as the superceded Type 23, the Type 38 featured a new deeper frame with a longer wheelbase to provide much greater accommodation than its predecessor. Its engine was essentially the same as that fitted to the Type 35A model, in essence a plain-bearing version of the engine which currently powered the company's range of successful Grand Prix cars.
Apart from a wider track, the front and rear axles were similar to those fitted to the racing models as also was the braking system, while the gearbox was of an entirely new design featuring, for the first time on a Bugatti, a centrally positioned gear-lever. The model was relatively short-lived, being replaced in October 1927 by the three-litre Type 44. A total of 387 Type 38 examples were produced during its short production run with chassis numbers ranging from 38101 to 38487. The last fifty or so examples, in fact from chassis no. 38435 in July 1927, were supercharged to enhance engine power and were designated Type 38A.
Except for their racing cars Bugatti did not commence manufacture of their own coachwork until 1927 so most Type 38 Bugattis were bodied by outside coachbuilders. The Type 38 wheelbase was longer than any previous model thereby allowing for the first time a far wider choice of coachwork ranging from stylish roadsters and roomy tourers to formal town carriages
This particular chassis, no. 38221, was invoiced by the factory on 21st August 1926 for delivery to their Paris showrooms. It was then fitted with its present open four-seater tourer bodywork by the renowned Parisien coachbuilders Lavocat & Marsaud who for some years had specialized in the production of particularly stylish touring coachwork generally on the same lines as this particular example specifically for fitment to Bugatti models.
However the next documented record of this car dates from 1974 when it was purchased by the well-known collector Mayer Pollock of Pottstown, Pennsylvania from a car dealer in Nantuet, New York. The car was then fitted with a Ford V-8 engine and required a full restoration. Fortunately Pollock already owned an incomplete Type 38A Bugatti, chassis no. 38463, which otherwise was in much poorer condition, having had its chassis shortened and lacking any coachwork. He therefore restored the engine, no. 371, from this other car which was no longer supercharged and installed it into chassis no. 38221
Restoration of the remainder of the car was duly completed and included the fitment of a set of replica Bugatti aluminum wheels despite the fact that such wheels were never fitted to this model, not even to the supercharged Type 38A variant. The car then changed hands in 1987 when it was acquired by Mr. Arturo Keller of California.
In 1993 the car enjoyed a brief sojourn in England when it was imported by London classic car dealer Dan Margulies and offered for sale from his Kensington premises. The following year the car was sold at auction in England when it was purchased by Mr. Davis who promptly returned it to the U.S.A. for addition to his collection after having replaced its replica aluminum wheels with a set of the correct wire wheels. Cosmetically the Bugatti has aged a little and a few shrinkage marks have appeared on the paintwork, likewise the wood decking surround also has some cracks.
This car retains all its original major component parts, including its delightful French coachwork, with the sole exception of its engine which is a complete original unit of the correct type taken over 25 years ago from another example of the same model. Unfortunately, the original numbering on its crankcase has been erased but its correct engine number 371 remains on the front face of its cambox. The car carries on its bulkhead a replica chassis plate confirming it to be chassis no. 38221, these plates being issued by the Bugatti Owners' Club in England only in instances when no doubt exists over a car's provenance. And having had little usage since being fully restored several years ago, the car is believed to be in sound mechanical condition throughout.