Since Bugatti is celebrating the company’s 110th birthday, it is only fitting we take a look back at the race car that built an empire. Our technical consultants at Warren Henry Automotive (Miami, FL) state with conviction that every single Bugatti you see on the road today, old or new, can trace its lineage back to the most successful race car of all time, the Bugatti Type 35. Throughout its long career, the Type 35 saw over 2,000 wins in professional and amateur races in the 1920s skyrocketing Ettore Bugatti into fame. At its peak, the Type 35 was averaging more than fourteen wins per week. The staggering amount of victories over a span of just six years secured the open-top sports car spot as a legend in international motor sport.
In a feat of engineering, Ettore Bugatti used a crankshaft supported by two roller bearings and three ball bearings. This crankshaft was capable of running at speeds up to 6,000 rpm to power the eight-piston 2.0-liter engine. Two carburetors instead of one plus the innovative crankshaft increased the Type 35’s power to 95 PS, transmitted by a wet multi-plate clutch. This first version of the Type 35 was capable of achieving speeds over 190 km/h. Ettore Bugatti wasn’t about to stop there though. With a 2.3-liter eight-cylinder engine and compressor the later Type 35B saw a power increase up to 140 PS and a top speed that exceeded 215 km/h. The engines that powered the Type 35 racehorse weren’t just known for their incredible performance, they were also known for their reliability and endurance.
As we have all come to know, as did Ettore Bugatti realized in the early 1920s, massive amounts of power means nothing when paired with a heavy car. This lead Mr. Bugatti down a relentless pursuit of building lightweight cars with the best handling possible. Bugatti continued to be an innovator in the engineering field with the development of special smooth-running wheels. The wheels reduced unsprung masses and improved that response of the overall suspension. Cast from aluminum the wheels featured eight flat ribbon-style spokes, an integral brake drum, and detachable rims.
Increased vehicle handing was achieved with a new hollow forged front axle with sealed ends. The lightweight axles were incredibly stable, rarely broke, and decreased the unsprung masses even further. The Type 35 could now take corners at even faster speeds thanks to these innovative front axles. The racing machine, Type 35, weighted approximately 750 kilograms. As Ettore Bugatti once said, “The Type 35 was the founding father of a family of pure-blooded racehorses from Molsheim – a true thoroughbred.” With unparallel performance, design, and technology the Type 35 carved out its spot in history as an absolute legend in international motor sport. The Chiron, Chiron Sport, and Divo all follow in the footsteps of the lightest, fastest, and strongest race car of its time the Type 35.