At the end of the 1925 season the CSI (Commission Sportive Internationale) introduced a new formula intended to slow down the then current generation of 2-litre Grand Prix cars, imposing a 1.5-litre capacity limit for 1926. The Bugatti Type 37 was introduced in November 1925, proving to be one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable racing cars to ever leave Ettore Bugatti’s facilities in Molsheim, France. Like its predecessor, the Type 35, the Type 37 provided all the performance that one desired, yet it also offered an excellent level of practicality for road-based events and rallies. However, as opposed to the eight-cylinder unit found in the Type 35, the Type 37 was fitted with a four-cylinder engine – considered by many to be more reliable, yet it also provided just as much excitement to the individual behind the wheel as its bigger brother did. Not only could the Type 37 be driven hard all day long, but it also proved reliable enough to be driven home at the end of the day under its own power, even with an additional passenger riding along.
The Type 37’s chassis and body were very similar to those of the 2-litre Type 35, the two models looking almost identical. In most respects the engine was typically Bugatti, the iron block and head being one casting topped by a single bevel-driven camshaft operating three valves per cylinder: two inlet and one exhaust. However, for the Type 37’s crankshaft Ettore Bugatti opted for plain big-end and main bearings rather than the Type 35’s ball/roller combination. A maximum power output of 60bhp was claimed, which was good enough for a top speed of around 95mph.
Compared to its larger eight-cylinder siblings, the Type 37 relies on mechanical simplicity, finesse, and lightweight design for its performance, rather than the over-engineered brute force that was more typical in racing cars of the period. With a compact yet powerful 1.5-liter engine, the Type 37 was easily capable of 90 mph. Braking was also effective, and the whole package was quickly identified as a race-winning car for any serious driver on the international racing scene.
It comes as little surprise then that in 1926 Richard Twelvetrees of Motor Sport described the Type 37 thus, ‘(In) the 1,500cc Grand Prix Bugatti… the manufacturers have introduced a new era for the sporting motorist by placing a real production racing car in the hands of the public… One of these machines… as delivered… will be fit to win races and competitions without any need of “hotting up”.’
The Type 37, like its predecessor, the Type 35, is for many collectors the ultimate embodiment of a high-performance and competitive racing car, yet also one which offers enthusiasts an excellent level of practicality for road-based events and rallies.
The wide cockpit offers genuine two-seat accommodation for the driver and a companion, making it a wonderful choice for any driver holding the romantic notion that a car should be driven to a circuit, raced competitively, and then driven home.
This 1957 tribute, is a well-proportioned example of the classic pre-war Bugatti mentioned above. Finished in the traditional Bugatti blue and covered in aluminium body work with a thought to be Ford engine, enclosed in a box, giving the car the same styling of the original car. The car is currently registered on a UK V5, and is ready to be enjoyed at a fraction of the price of the genuine Type 37.