If you’ve not had the opportunity to see one of the most beautiful racing cars in existence, the Bugatti Type 59, there’s one making its way to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace this year…
Described by many as the ultimate evolution of the Bugatti Grand Prix car, the mythical Type 59 is both a technical marvel and a masterpiece of industrial automotive art – a model considered by many to be the most elegant and desirable prewar racing car ever to grace its competitive surroundings.
Those fortunate enough to attend last year’s event in September 2020 will recall the incredible 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports that sold for an eye-watering £9,535,000 the Passion of a Lifetime sale, making it one of the most expensive Bugattis ever to come under the hammer at a public auction.
Without a doubt, one of the marques most inspirational racers and motorsport creations, the Bugatti Type 59 opted for a shape with the width of a two-seater so the driver could sit low next to the gearbox – Ettore Bugatti didn’t like having to sit his driver high over the propeller shaft as he would have to in a tighter, single-seat body.
That shape tapers into a sharp point at the tail, which itself houses the fuel tank, in between two beautifully riveted halves of metal. Every detail is perfection, right down to the signature piano wire wheels, beautifully engineered and the perfect complement to the Type 59’s proportions.
Powered by the iconic straight eight-cylinder, with two overhead camshafts driven by a train of gears from the rear of the lightened crankshaft, this was a Grand Prix car design led by art and superseded by science.
The first three Type 59 Grand Prix cars appeared in 1933, this particular example, #59124, achieved an impressive fourth position at Spa-Francorchamps with Robert Benoist at the wheel. While only six or seven were ever built, the Bugatti Type 59 remains one of the most desirable pre-war cars ever made, commanding some of the highest prices if ever they come to auction.
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