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1929 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport Tourer

  • Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport tourer
  • Original factory Gran Sport coachwork
  • Exceptionally original matching-numbers example
  • Recent long-term ownership of more than 60 years
  • Mille Miglia eligible with high coefficiency rating (1.75)

With fewer than 200 thought to survive, the Bugatti Type 40 is already a rare car – but this particular example is an even rarer find. Chassis number 40764 was owned by the late Tony Clark from 1957 and is an outstandingly original survivor, with a number of delightful details.

This particular Bugatti was delivered new to the UK through the British Bugatti importer Colonel Sorel on the 18th June 1929 and sold to  its first owner, thought to be based in the Southport area. The continuation logbook contained within the history file lists subsequent owners as JA MacDonald in Haydock from 1947, Kenneth Atkinson Lord in Southport from 1950 and Maurice John Richards in Churchstoke from July 1953.

In December of that year, the Bugatti was acquired by Arthur John Churchley in Edgbaston. Churchley then sold it in September 1954 to Peter M Driver, who was based in Upton St Leonards in Gloucestershire. The receipt from that sale is included in the car’s paperwork and shows that Driver paid £245 for the Type 40.

In August 1957, Clark bought the Bugatti from Driver for £140 having seen it advertised in The Autocar. The invoice was hand-written on the headed paper of the CJ Driver engineering firm in Birmingham.

Clark, a popular member of the Bugatti Owners Club, had served in the Royal Navy during World War Two before going on to run the family’s Birmingham-based jewellery business – W Clark & Co. A lifelong motoring enthusiast, his first car was a Morris Eight and he went on to be a member of the Morris Minor Owners Club, the Bugatti Owners Club, the Riley Register, the American Bugatti Club and the Vintage Sports-Car Club.

There were also regular family outings to race meetings at Silverstone, Curborough, Prescott and the well-known VSCC driving tests at Madresfield.

After realising that his newly acquired Bugatti Type 40 needed a lot of work doing to it, he stored it beneath a sheet on his driveway while he built a new garage to house it. He then set about restoring it and removed the Grand Sport tourer body, which he stored carefully at work for 10 years before re-fitting it. The engine was sent away to a specialist to be rebuilt, but otherwise he carried out all the work himself and was delighted to find how original the car was.

Once it was completed, Clark used the Bugatti extensively for rallies in England and on the continent. He reported that it would cruise at 60mph and had a maximum speed of 80mph. In the absence of a speedometer, he noted the engine speeds on a piece of card that remains in the car’s fascinating file – 1650rpm was 30mph, 2750rpm was 50mph, and 3500rpm equated to exactly 67mph.

Always fastidiously maintained during Clark’s ownership of more than 60 years, this Bugatti Type 40 wears its patina with pride. A cushioning strip of original leather is still in place on the removeable cover for the rear luggage area, while a beautifully crafted wooden storage bin forms part of the rear seat squab.

Components such as the front axle display their original stamped Bugatti numbers, while the body number of ‘95’ is clearly visible on the floor beneath the rear seat. The black leather trim is delightfully aged, and the passenger seat is hinged to allow access to the rear. The driver’s seat retains its correct ‘belt strap’ fixtures and fittings.

Among the very few non-original components are a Type 37 cambox and a Type 44 radiator, while an SU fuel pump has replaced the factory Autovac unit.

The extensive history file is testament to how well Clark looked after the car. As well as enquiries to component manufacturers about spare parts, there is correspondence regarding the 1963 International Bugatti Touring Rally and letters from marque stalwarts such as Jack Lemon Burton, Hugh Conway and Godfrey Eaton. There is even a 1958 key – still in its original envelope – for the roadside RAC telephone boxes.

The Classic Motor Hub is proud to be offering this very special Bugatti Type 40 for sale. It’s been recently described by a Bugatti marque specialist as being one of the two best Type 40s that he’s ever seen. Few have retained their original coachwork and matching-numbers status, which is part of what makes this such an appealing example. The rest is down to the long-term care lavished upon it by Tony Clark and the delightful patina that has built up over his supervision.

BUGATTI TYPE 40 Model History

Ettore Bugatti was born into an artistic family, so it’s little wonder that his automotive creations have come to be regarded as works of art in their own right. The huge success of the early small-capacity ‘Brescia’ models led to Bugatti’s golden period during the 1920s and 1930s, when the Molsheim factory produced some of the most desirable road and race cars of all time.

Following the Great War, the ‘Brescia’ had been offered with overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engines featuring four valves per cylinder, but in the early 1920s Bugatti started development of a three-valve engine. A 2-litre production version was first seen in the Type 30 in 1922, and it was then refined and modified into a 1496cc three-valve unit for the 1925 Type 37 racing car.

This free-revving four-cylinder engine would also form the basis of the Type 40, one of the few differences from the Type 37 being the use of a unique crankcase. The Type 40 used a shortened version of the Type 38 chassis with 8ft 11in wheelbase, and featured a solid version of the Type 35’s circular cross-section front axle. The steering system benefited from the addition of a Hardy-type coupling, while the rear axle and four-speed gearbox were shared with the Type 38 and 44.

The first Type 40 was dispatched to Bugatti’s Paris showroom in June 1926, and it’s thought that the total run amounted to 787 cars before production came to an end in late 1930.

When The Motor tested a Type 40 in 1929, it noted that the Bugatti ‘possesses many of the excellent features of the 1500cc Grand Prix model’ and was able to lap Brooklands at 70.64mph in ‘thoroughly unsuitable weather’. In its summing-up, it said that the Bugatti Type 40 ‘is a car that has an exceptionally good performance for its price, and should delight the heart of any sports car enthusiast.’

Its price of £365 certainly compared favourably with its rivals. Writing in The Auto Motor Journal in 1929, Edgar N Duffield stated that, ‘I do not believe that one can buy in England today anything nearly so quick as this 11.9hp Type Bugatti for £365, and its speed is only one of its very real, unquestionable benefits.’

The Bugatti name continues to resonate with enthusiasts, who recognise that Ettore’s designs offer a rare blend of style, performance and engineering prowess. The Type 40 is a perfect example of that Molsheim magic.

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