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1928 Bugatti Type 40 Biplace Torpedo Sports

Original coachwork, matching numbers throughout & eligible for the Mille Miglia

Chassis No. 40557

Engine No. 495

Registration No. SV 8984 (UK)

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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The Bugatti Type 40 offered for sale here is very well-known to the Bugatti Owners’ Club having taken part on a plethora of events with the current long-term enthusiast owners, both at home and overseas. It is a highly original and correct example of the breed and is supplied with a full historical report from David Sewell and Mark Morris. Sporting and yet practical, the Type 40 is eligible for numerous historic events including perhaps the most internationally renowned and sought after of them all, namely the Mille Miglia.

By 1926, Ettore Bugatti had firmly established his company as the most prolific and successful supplier of racing cars in Europe, if not the world. With the Type 35 model, at one stage, winning an average of 14 races per week around the world, Bugatti won the 1926 Grand Prix World Championship. Given their competition success, the demand for sporting road going Bugattis was unsurprisingly strong and in May 1926, the ever-popular Brescia type 22 and Type 23 models were replaced by the Type 40.

The early Type 40 utilised the Type 23 chassis frame with its 94mm side channel depth and 2564mm wheelbase, which was later replaced by the 120mm deep channel and 2714m wheelbase. Power was provided by a 4-cylinder 1496cc single overhead camshaft engine, with 3 valves per cylinder, that was based upon the Type 37 engine fitted to the four-cylinder privateer racers. In total, some 796 examples were produced between 1926 and 1930. The cars could be sold with factory coachwork such as the 2/3 seat Grand Sport model or were supplied in rolling chassis form to be clothed by the numerous ‘carrosserie’ operating in France and abroad.

A well-documented and researched motorcar, ‘40557’ is supplied with a comprehensive historical report penned by David Sewell and Mark Morris and gratifyingly the ownership history is nearly complete from new aside from the usual gap during the war years and just following. According to the report, the car was originally collected directly from the factory at Molsheim by the first owner/agent Dr. Momain and was purchased for Garage Gergovia of Clemont-Ferrand, of whom Dr. Momain was a proprietor.

It appears that ‘40557’ was supplied in rolling chassis form and clothed with a two-seater sports Torpedo style body with disappearing hood – the same coachwork that ‘40557’ retains today. What is not entirely clear is if the coachwork was by Charles Duval of Paris or possibly by Maleyre of Bordeaux. Duval worked closely with Amilcar due to the proximity of the factory to the Amilcar works. There are elements of the coachwork on ‘40557’ that adhere to Duval’s styling and hence the car carries Duval coachbuilder’s plates, but there are also design cues that point toward Malayre, particularly some of the latter’s coachwork produced for BNCs. Both firms are roughly equidistant from Clemont-Ferrand, so one cannot assume that either would have been more convenient than the other. The theories as to which ‘carrosserie’ clothed the car are included in an appendix in the historical report and make for interesting reading. Regardless of which coachbuilder can claim the work, what is clear is that the coachwork fitted to ‘40557’ is the original.

According to the report on the Bugatti:

“In respect of its mechanical components it (40557) retains all of its original major Molsheim components: chassis frame, engine, front and rear axles and gearbox. The correlation of numbers is ‘matching’ throughout as 495 and the frame is 514, so close in production sequence that it has always been one complete car.”

A listing of the known ownership history is contained within the report and can be supplied upon request. The car had spent all of its life in France and from 1932 onwards had remained in and around Paris. During 1986 work was carried out on the car by the French Bugatti specialist Jean Novo, and a photograph on file shows ‘40557’ in his workshop.

The Type 40 was purchased by the current British owners some twenty years ago from the outskirts of Paris. Subsequently ‘40557’ has enjoyed a regular schedule of maintenance, mostly carried out by Bugatti specialists, Gentry restorations of Worminghall, Buckinghamshire. The engine was completely rebuilt to original specification between 2003 and 2005 with a refresh of the top end carried out again in 2015. The gearbox bearings have been replaced and further general maintenance carried out where necessary including king-pins and bushes etc.

The current owners have enjoyed custodianship of ‘40557’ greatly, pressing the car into service on numerous national and international rallies including: The International Bugatti Meetings in Europe, The Great Australian Bugatti Rally in 2014, A Bugatti rally in New Zealand and the 2016 La Festa Mille Miglia in Japan. Much loved by the owners and the Bugatti Owners’ Club, this highly original and well-travelled touring Bugatti Type 40 is offered for sale only to make way for another Bugatti project. It has a well-documented history and is supplied with a full historical report contained within the accompanying history file. The history file also contains FIVA papers that require renewal with any change of ownership. ‘40557’ is a fine and correct example of Bugatti’s Type 40 model and ready to be enjoyed by the next custodians on the plethora of international historic events for which it is eligible, including the Mille Miglia. Viewing is available by appointment only.