1924 Bugatti Type 13


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1924 Bugatti Type 13 Brescia Sports
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. 2058

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.

Introduced in February 1923, the Brescia Modifié was a true thoroughbred sports car, derived directly from the racing Brescias that had dominated the voiturette category at the 1921 Italian GP. At a time when many 1½-litre production cars struggled to achieve 50mph, the Brescia Modifié was guaranteed to exceed 70mph. Of advanced design, the engine incorporated a ball-bearing crankshaft and aluminium crankcase, and was coupled to an excellent four-speed gearbox developed from that of the Brescia racers; indeed, many Brescia Modifiés were raced with great success.

Bugatti produced approximately 200 Brescia Modifié chassis in 1923, virtually all of them Types 22 and 23. The Bugatti factory record for '2058' initially described this car as a Type 22 fitted with twin SEV magnetos, but prior to its production this was changed to a Type 13 with single SEV magneto. The car was completed on 5th May 1924 and invoiced to Bugatti's Swiss agency Messrs Addor & Cie of Lausanne. The Bugatti was delivered to Zurich as a racing car but the identity of its first owner is not known. Records of engine numbers for this batch of chassis no longer exist, but there is strong evidence that this car's original engine was '440' (see Sewell Report on file).

No identifiable trace of '2058' has been found in later records prior to it being purchased in 1927 from Bugatti's Swiss agency BUCAR by Norwegian student Bjørn Bjørnstad. At the time of the car's sale, the front of its chassis frame had been lengthened by 150mm as if to accommodate a longer engine, although its Bugatti unit was still fitted. Bjørnstad used the car in Switzerland for a couple of years before driving it to his native Norway. Once back in Norway he registered the car in Oslo circa 1931 with the number 'A-11016'. Some two years later, the Bugatti was left abandoned in his garden where it remained undisturbed until around 1960 when it was taken to a scrap metal merchant named Percy Shultz who proceeded to break it up. In 1955, Øisten Bertheau and his wife Kirsten of Oslo had acquired Type 13 chassis number '2073'. In 1961 they were told about this Type 13 and bought the remains as spares for their own car. Sadly, its engine had been broken up by Schultz only a few days earlier so was beyond recovery.

The Type 13's surviving components included the front and rear parts of the chassis frame; the gearbox; the front axle assembly with steering arms and rods; the complete rear axle; the prop-shaft; and the four wheels, road springs, and shock absorbers, but there was no radiator or clutch. These parts were kept as spares until 1979 when it was realised that a complete car could be assembled from them. Evidently only the front axle had been required as a replacement on '2073', so the remaining parts were sold to fellow Norwegian, Arild Staver. In 2012, the Bugatti's ownership would be transferred to Arild's wife, Turid.

Restoration of the car by its new owner was initiated promptly and was completed by 1984. The chassis frame was returned to its original Type 13 specification and fitted with its original set of Type 13 racing-type flat front and rear springs. Its dumb-irons are understood to be 15mm less down-swept than on the touring cars. Two of the original shock absorbers were retained, while the other two fitted were remade to the correct pattern The rear pair are fitted behind the axle in contrast with those on the later touring models. To replace the missing power unit, engine number '366' from chassis '1987' was acquired, overhauled, and installed.

The engine's refurbishment included new bearings, connecting rods, and pistons to its original crankshaft; a new 8-plug cylinder block; new valves, springs, guides, and tappets; and a new special camshaft, while its original oil pump, oil filter, and water pump were retained. The carburettor is its original 36mm Zenith DEF and the original twin Bosch ZF4 magnetos are fitted in a correct-specification bulkhead-mounted cradle. The clutch is comprised of original parts except for its conversion to dry mode operation.

An original radiator complete with its original core was sourced; it is of the rare intermediary design with a brass surround to its Bugatti badge and a small cut-out for the starting handle. A new front axle was machined from an alloy steel billet and fitted with a pair of original stub axles, plus original front brake drums and back-plates and new brake shoes. Having been produced in 1924, the car originally had no front wheel brakes. The wheels are as per the original 710x90 beaded edge variety. A new brake cross-shaft was manufactured from factory drawings to provide a fully compensated braking system exactly as was fitted to later examples of the model. The original transmission brake pedal and its mounting bracket survive with the car.

The gearbox retains all its original gears, which remain in good condition, and its original transmission brake drum. The prop-shaft has American Spicer universal joints, not the French made-under-licence Glaezners as fitted to some models. The rear axle still has its original 13x45 crown-wheel and pinion and its original Type 13-length torque arm, which lacks the riveted-in wooden insert found on all the longer-wheelbase models. A new body was made for the car using a construction technique copied from the body on Type 30 chassis number '4373', which since 1973 has been on display at the Norsk Technisk Museum in Oslo. Its frame is made from angle iron covered by an aluminium skin folded over its edges, resulting in a very light but adequately stiff structure. The headlights are by Eisemann, identical to those by Bosch.

No dynamo is fitted at present, the original having been fitted under the left (passenger) side gearbox arm and belt-driven from the split bobbin on the short shaft between the clutch and the gearbox. The original bobbin survives with the car. The rear-mounted oval fuel tank is secured by its original straps to the original four holes in the top flanges of the chassis frame. Upon completion, the Bugatti was road-registered with the number 'BL 953' but has since been reregistered 'C-101'. Since the completion of David Sewell's typically well researched and thorough report (dated July 2016), the engine has been fully overhauled (during the winter of 2017) and the gearbox lid replaced with an original from Type 37A '37365'.

The car's first event was the VSCC's 50th anniversary gathering at Malvern in 1984, since when it has participated in numerous rallies in Norway, throughout Europe, and as far afield as Tunisia, as well as many lesser events and several touring holidays in England. A full list of the major events attended is available. A wonderful opportunity to acquire a well known, well documented, and extensively campaigned original short chassis racing Brescia.

Please note that should this vehicle remain in the UK local import taxes of 5% will be added to the hammer price.