Simanaitis Says

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THE TYPE 44 BUGATTI—“A GENTLEMAN’S CARRIAGE”

IN HIS BUGATTI MAGNUM, HUGH CONWAY wrote “… the new 3 litre car, Type 44, which came out in October 1927 in time for the Motor Salons was clearly destined for a bright future…. Now at last Bugatti could offer a ‘gentleman’s carriage.’ ”

Here are tidbits about this Bugatti variant gleaned from Conway’s book. I conclude with my oft-repeated tale of riding in a Type 44 Grand Sport.

Bugatti Magnum, by Hugh Conway with Maurice Sauzay, Motorbooks International, 1989.

Conway observed, “The Press welcomed the 44 and wrote eulogistically, being impressed with the normal qualities of Bugatti’s handling, the smoothness, refinement and extraordinary flexibility of the engine and the ability to pull up hills in top gear. ‘Toujours un mètre en première,’ [‘Always a meter in first”] Ettore would say, putting the car straight into top gear!”

The new 8-cylinder Type 44 engine was derived from the 4-cylinder Type 28. The camshaft drive was at the center of the two blocks displacing 3 liters. Below, its single carburetor, an American Schebler, fed into a water-cooled manifold. These and other images from Bugatti Magnum.

“What also was clear,” Conway said, “was that now, really for the first time, a touring Bugatti could carry a decent closed body properly.” 

A Successful Offering. Though this may sound heretical to hard-core enthusiasts, remember that Bugatti was in business of selling automobiles: “The success of the model,” Conway noted, “was consolidated by good sales, some 1100 chassis being sold in the period October 1927 to October 1930 when the Type 49 replaced it. The only other Bugatti to reach such sales was the 16-valve Brescia, not even the final Type 57 achieving the total between 1933 and 1939.”

Elegant Coachwork. Conway pictures a fine two-door saloon bodied at the Molsheim works. 

Type 44 with factory coachwork.

I like its two-tone with that subtle little sweep soon to evolve into rakish Type 55 style. 

Famed Czech race driver Elizabeth Junek took the roadster shown below to Ceylon and India in 1930 and sold it for Ettore.

Type 44 roadster on tour.

Gangloff made several 44 bodies for Bugatti, including this one with opening roof.

Type 44 saloon with Gangloff coachwork.

I have always been fond of sunroof designs. This Type 44’s is a particularly expansive one. Note as well its flamboyant upholstery reminding me of Voisin exuberance

Conway also found the following, a contemporary Swiss journal carrying an illustration “of the unauthorised entry of a 44 into a tobacconist shop!”

Cannée” Coachwork. As described by Norse Interiors, “The rattan plant is a natural vine that grows in Southeast Asia…. Cane is the thinner material that results from the process of stripping the rattan plant.”

“The rule of thumb,” Norse Interiors continues, “is that pieces that feature thin, woven accents, like the back of a chair or in a cabinet door, are considered cane.”

Or, as was the fashion back in the 1920s and 1930s, cane appeared as an accent in automotive coachwork. 

A cannée coach 44 delivered to Lord Cholmondley (pronounced “Chumley”). 

Lord Cholmodley liked the canée so much that when he replaced his 44 with a Type 49, he retained this feature in the later car’s coachwork.

Lord Cholmondley’s Type 49. 

The Lord was in good company with cannée. No less illustrious a personality than Mae West rode in a 1930 Rolls-Royce Brewster Town Car with such coachwork in the 1936 movie Go West, Young Man.

My 1957 Ride. As noted back in “Bugatti Musings,” “I never tire of telling people (even when they tire of it…) the first sports car I ever rode in was a Bugatti Type 44 Grand Sport at Giant’s Despair Hillclimb in 1957. I was an enthusiastic teenager who ‘just happened to be at the right place and the right time to be offered a ride in that wonderful automobile.’ ”

There. I managed to sneak it into conversation yet again. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022

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