By the early 1930s Ettore Bugatti had established an unrivalled reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on road or track. Indeed, the world’s greatest racing drivers enjoyed countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory’s products and often chose them for their everyday transport. Although Bugatti is best remembered for its racing models, most of the 6,000-or-so cars produced at the Molsheim factory were touring cars of sporting character.
Ultimate expression of Ettore Bugatti’s original design, the Type 49 debuted at the Paris Salon in 1930 and was produced from then until 1934. The Type 49 would be the last of the maestro’s eight-cylinder, single-camshaft touring cars and is considered by many to be the finest of all ‘real’ Bugattis. The new 3.3-litre model featured twin-plug ignition, an enlarged radiator, ball-change gearlever and (later) very pretty cast aluminum wheels among many other improvements. Total Type 49 production amounted to 470 cars, around 76 of which are believed to exist today.
A civilized grande routière to match those of rivals Delage and Delahaye, the Type 49 attracted coachwork of the finest quality executed in a wide variety of styles by both the Molsheim factory and by other coachbuilders throughout Europe.
Many of the French coachbuilders designed bodies for the Type 44 including Weymann, Kellner and James Young.
After 1930, Bugatti upgraded the model to the Type 49 and offered the 5-litre Type 46 as a more luxurious model.
This particular example is an exquisite, fine and perfectly detailed representation of the most elegant period of the Grand Routier Bugatti, a style dating from the late 1920s. The Bugatti was delivered new to Paris in 1931 to a Monsieur Gilbert, fitted with a faux cabriolet coupe body by Gangloff of Colmar to Design Number 749G. Not much is known of its earlier life, but we do know that by the 1970s it was owned by Uwe Hucke. The Bugatti was entrusted to specialist restorer Helmut Feierbrand, who under instruction from Hucke constructed a Type 44 Fiacre body which is fitted to the car to this day. Furthermore the car was fitted with a Type 44 radiator, cambox, single plug type 44 cylinder blocks and a Type 38 gearbox.
The car is overpopulated with fine and exquisite detailing, such as a full set of Jaeger cable and chronometric clocks encased in the typical period oval-shaped instrumentation binnacle, alongside a traditional light-sprung four-spoke steering wheel, betraying the car’s early competition genetics and very much in the style of racing cars of the period. The interior is beautifully finished in stunning high-quality fawn leather, with the appropriate door pulls and interior furniture, including fine woven grab handles to the rear.
Externally, in line with its stunning bespoke interior, the car boasts all of the highest quality features, typical of the world’s most expensive cars of this period, including a very expensive Marshall lighting equipment throughout, with polished aluminium ACE-style wheel discs, a beautiful hand-made rear leather baggage trunk mounted behind the coachwork, and a sideboard-mounted additional petrol can in untarnishable finish, appropriately completed with the iconic initials of one of the world’s greatest motor car designers, Etorre Bugatti, which to this day remains a trademark associated with the brand.
For any Bugatti collector or historic motoring enthusiast, opening the bonnet of an 8-cylinder Bugatti has become an unforgettable experience, and the straight 8 engine fitted to this machine definitely provides such instant euphoria. From the exquisite machine-turned finishes through to the stunning and practical use of period high technology alloys, the under bonnet of this car typifies what is often said about Bugatti engines, in that “it’s not an engine, it’s a cathedral”.
Offered at No Reserve, this wonderful machine is accompanied with sundry paperwork and documentation which is available for inspection upon request. A quite magnificent representation of the heady and exciting world of ultra-high quality motor cars during the exciting inter-war years.