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It would be a herculean task to list even a worthwhile fraction of Bugatti’s illustrious Type 35’s officially recorded period hill climb, GP, and endurance race wins, let alone the model’s countless club-level victories attained throughout the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and beyond. Excluding perhaps the ethereal, near-mythic Royale, no other Molsheim-era Bugatti is more emblematic of Ettore Bugatti’s singular artistic vision and instinctual engineering approach than the Type 35.

Despite its success and reputation, it is believed that fewer than 350 Type 35s of all types were built during its 1924–1930 production run, including naturally aspirated and supercharged developments. All Type 35s were powered by monobloc, single overhead cam, 24-valve straight-eight engines, most of which featured five main roller bearings supporting their crankshafts.

Chassis design featured a rear end supported by unusual, reversed quarterelliptical leaf springs, while the front was fitted with an ingenious hollow axle of Ettore’s own design. Handling was precise, steering was light and direct, and mechanical four-wheel brakes were strong and effective.

According to its highly detailed report on file by respected Bugatti historian David Sewell, chassis 4634 was originally constructed as part of a batch of 10 cars in September 1925 as a Type 35A, a road-biased derivative of the standard competition car fitted with plain bearings, coil ignition, wire wheels, and other changes seemingly adapted in order to reduce price, complexity, and maintenance requirements, while improving ease-of-use for less competition-focused owners.

Regardless of said modifications, this car was raced extensively and with some notable success by its first owner, including a Malcolm Campbell-organized, British Automobile Racing Club-sponsored, single-marque handicap race at Brooklands in May 1926, securing for its driver a £40 cup provided by Ettore Bugatti himself. The driver was Chris Stainbank Staniland of Lincolnshire, a Royal Air Force pilot and motorcycle racer, who purchased the Bugatti new via Jarrott & Letts of London in late 1925. Staniland continued to enter 4634 in BARC events over the next 11 months, such as at Brooklands on Easter Monday in 1927, during which the car participated in two races. He placed 2nd in the first race, recording a fastest lap of 105.52 mph, and 3rd in the next. The car blitzed the banks during this second and final run of the day, neatly ending Staniland’s career in 4634 with the fastest-ever Brooklands lap of 105.74 mph, a truly remarkable achievement.

The car later moved to Ireland, where its owner, C.G. “Gordon” Neill of Belfast, is known to have competed in local circuit races and hill climbs with a good degree of success. The car’s next noteworthy chapter was reported by legendary Bugatti historian Hugh Conway in his 1973–1974 registry update, which records it as having been acquired by noted marque specialist Richard Crosthwaite with little more than a bare chassis, a complete gearbox, and a partially disassembled engine.

Using many original Molsheim-made parts, and with help from Mr. Conway (such as his sourcing of what is reported to have been the last new old stock roller-bearing crankshaft available anywhere), Crosthwaite began rebuilding the car, converting it to supercharged 35C specification, including key features such as the correct magneto ignition and cast wheels with integral brake drums, the latter of which are credited as the world’s first aluminum alloy wheels. The Sewell report cites the beautifully crafted replica coachwork as that of Peel Ltd. Its restoration was completed by its subsequent owner, Hamish Moffatt, in 1986, and shortly afterward the car was exported to the US and acquired by the Mullin Collection in 1991.

From its early and well-documented exploits with renowned British war hero and racer Chris Staniland and its conversion to desirable Roots-supercharged specification, to its decades in one of the world’s most important prewar French collections and its participation with Peter Mullin at the wheel in vintage racing events, chassis 4634 is an outstanding example of the incredible Type 35.

*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1927.

Gooding & Company
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