1925 Bugatti Type 23
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1925 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia Torpedo
Coachwork by L Maron, Pot et Cie
Registration no. XXE 32
Chassis no. 2519
Engine no. 893
'Bugattis encapsulate concepts of engineering which, once seen, change your ideas radically and definitively. Drive them, and you realise that each car is form and engineering in equilibrium, and a work of art.' William Stobbs, Les Grandes Routières.
By the early 1930s Ettore Bugatti had established an unrivalled reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on road or track; the world's greatest racing drivers enjoying countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory's products and often choosing them for their everyday transport. Developed from the first Bugatti to be built at Molsheim - the short-wheelbase Type 13 of 1910 - the Type 13 'Brescia' took that name following the factory's first four places at the 1921 Italian Grand Prix for Voiturettes, held at the eponymous racetrack in Lombardy. Longer wheelbase Type 22 and Type 23 models were made, both of which used the single-overhead-camshaft 16-valve Brescia engine and were built alongside 8-valve 'Petit Pur Sang' versions. Some 2,000 Brescias were built between 1914 and 1926 with engine capacities of 1,368, 1,453 and 1,496cc.
A late example, Brescia chassis number '2519' has the 1,496cc engine and according to factory records was delivered in May 1925 to Paris where it was bodied by the little-known coachbuilder L Maron, Pot et Cie of Levallois-Perret. The staggered two-seater torpedo body was commissioned by the Bugatti's first owner Jean Haimovici, (Reference Bugantics, Vol 30, Number 1), a Romanian living in Paris who took the car with him when he moved to Czechoslovakia. Documentation on file lists various owners in Czechoslovakia and the car also comes with Czech registration documents dating back to 1947. The last of these owners is one William Kevin Stewart, from 4th May 1959, who brought the car to the UK where it was registered by Automo Ltd of London NW6 in August 1959. Miraculously, the Bugatti had survived in remarkably original condition; indeed, it is one of only a handful (The Brescia Bugatti book by Bob King would indicate only five Brescia's are complete with these original parts) retaining its original body, bonnet, engine, gearbox and axles.
Automo sold the Bugatti to Dr James Mirrey of Leavesden, Hertfordshire for £195 (receipt on file) and a couple of months later an article about the car was published in Cars Illustrated (November 1959 edition). A confirmed 'Vintagent', Dr Mirrey already owned the ex-Holland Birkett Type 44 and had enjoyed various other Bugattis and Lancias in the past. Cars Illustrated noted that the Bugatti had managed to cover the 1,000 miles from Prague despite a suspect SEV magneto that refused to fire all cylinders!
Robert Patrick and Partner Ltd carried out various works while the Bugatti was in Dr Mirrey's ownership, including an engine rebuild in 1969 (see bills and correspondence on file). In the early 1980s the car was acquired by Terry Cardy of Culford, Suffolk and sent to David Marsh of Middleton-by-Youlgrave, Derbyshire for restoration. Extensive works were carried out between September 1983 and August 1985 when the car was returned to Terry Cardy (bills on file).
In 1987 the Bugatti was sold to the current vendors and its restoration was duly completed by the respected marque specialist Ernest Allen of Dinedor, Hereford over the next two years. In 1988 'XXE 32' was driven through France to Italy to attend the Ferrara Rally and the laying of the foundation stone of the new Bugatti factory, winning a concours prize. This trip was only the start of a most extensive and successful international rallying career that has seen the T23 attend events in Sweden, Holland, New Zealand and throughout the UK, as well as further visits to France, Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. Its most recent international outing was to the 2013 Brescia Rally in Alsace.
No expense has been spared in keeping the Bugatti in tip-top mechanical condition, as evidenced by a substantial quantity of bills from Longland Hart for works to the brakes, wheels, gearbox, back axle, crown wheel and pinion and engine, the latter being rebuilt in 2003 around a new cylinder block supplied by Gianni Torelli, Italy with machining by Gentry Engineering. The most recent works were carried out in preparation for the 2013 Brescia Rally in Alsace.
The car comes with a most extensive history file containing the aforementioned Czech registration documents; the original UK logbook; copies of old V5 registration documents; photographs showing the car at various stages of its life (including in Czechoslovakia); assorted correspondence; numerous invoices; various magazines and articles; current MoT certificate and V5C. A wonderful opportunity to acquire a well known and equally well documented Brescia.