For the advancement of education through the study of works...

Founded by Hugh G. Conway, C.B.E. in 1987
For the advancement of education through the study of works of Ettore Bugatti
Richard Day
Julie Bridcutt
David Morys
Office Hours:
Monday – Friday
10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
The Bugatti Trust, Prescott Hill, Gotherington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 9RD, UK
Tel. +44(0)1242 677201
Fax +44(0)1242 674191
E-mail: [email protected]
H. R. G. Conway (Chairman), Angela Hucke, J. G. Marks,
A. B. Price, Lord Raglan, G. S. St. John, A. C. Trevelyan, Sir John Venables-Llewelyn
Nick Murray’s Type 37A currently on display in the Trust in chassis form. The car was first
delivered to the German racing driver Hans Verting of Bremen in February 1928 and took
part in the German Grand Prix in 1928 and 1929. The chassis number is 37302 and the
engine, 215.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
The subject of GP Bugatti chassis
design and handling has been covered
in recent issues including contributions
from Charles Bulmer – NL27, p.4;
Hugh Price – NL27, p.8; Hugh Conway
– NL29, p.3 and Lord Raglan – NL30,
p.18. We continue in this issue with an
explanatory article by Barrie and Hugh
Price and letters from Charles Bulmer
and Bill Milliken.
pump would cavitate and would only
provide a low pressure supply until the
oil had thoroughly warmed up. Steady
worked as an aircraft engine mechanic
during the war and also remembers an
instruction to add a certain proportion of
100 octane fuel to the engine oil for start
up in very cold conditions such as in
Alaska. The idea being to thin the oil to
enable the system to work properly and
hope that the volatile fuel would soon
evaporate off when it had done its job.
Do Royale car owners take such careful
precautions? Thank you Steady.
Bill Milliken was Chief Flight Test
Engineer at Boeing Aircraft from 1944.
He was managing director at Cornell
Aeronautical Laboratory retiring
as head of the Transport Research
Division, which he founded. Milliken
Research Associates was founded in
1976 and continues as a foundational
research asset to the automotive and car
racing industries. Bill’s autobiography
‘Equations of Motion’, ISBN 0-83761348-5 also covers his exploits as a
racing driver with his Bugatti Type 35A,
chassis number 4906, and also with Dr.
Samuel Scher’s Type 54, chassis number
54210; he must be uniquely qualified
to talk about GP Bugatti qualities of
David Sewell telephoned to point out
that there is a reference to Bugatti railcar
Royale diesel engines in Bugantics 16.3,
August 1953. In NL30 we wrote about
the Type 58 under the heading ‘The
Bugatti Diesel Railcar’ and, quoting
Conway, concluded “…eventually the
railways demanded Diesel which Bugatti
was unable to provide”. So, did the Type
58 diesel actually go into production? In
the 1953 Bugantics John Carter wrote:
“There was a turbine feel about the two
Royale engines, purposeful power with
singular smoothness ….. It was not
until I was within a yard of the engines,
while they were idling at a signal stop,
that I suspected the truth. So I asked
the engineer, who told me that the new
Royales for the Auto-rail are diesel and
old ones are being converted”.
We have also received two very
interesting comments on the last
newsletter, one on oil pressure and the
other about Bugatti diesel engines.
On the question of the Bugatti railcars’
oil pressure (“Learn to drive a Bugatti
Railcar” – NL30) we had thought it
surprising that cold thicker oil would
produce a low oil pressure reading after
at least a 15 minute careful warming up
period. Steady Barker phoned to explain.
He had known of the same thing when
working with Alta racing engines. It had
been found that with cold oil the Alta
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Can this be true? We have never heard
of any Bugatti diesel engines extant.
Were they used in service? We think it
unlikely. Of course, if anyone knows
more about this we would dearly like to
hear from them.
Chairman’s Report
Most of you will already be aware
of the sad death of Bill Leith on 13th
March. He had slipped on ice some
weeks earlier whilst walking his dog
and suffered a head injury. He leaves
a widow Barbara, three sons and eight
grandchildren to whom we offer our
deepest sympathies.
Bill had owned four Bugattis over the
years. The Lavocat and Marsaud bodied
Type 23 that he acquired in the nineteen
fifties was a particular favourite. He was
an enthusiastic supporter of the Bugatti
Trust from its inception becoming a
Trustee in 2000. He was also a member
of the Bugatti Owners’ Club for more
than 50 years. In 2004 he founded
the Friends of the Bugatti Trust, a
charity registered in Massachusetts
and successfully obtained funds which
enabled the Trust to archive and
digitise its photographic collection for
publication on the internet.
on several overseas tours and endowed
in perpetuity a chair calling it the Leith
Family Chair. A full obituary will be
published in Bugantics shortly.
In January The Bugatti Trust held
its Annual General Meeting and
presentation of accounts for the year
ended March 2008. They were approved
by the members. In the period since
we have been subjected to increasingly
depressing news from the financial
markets. The Trust cannot expect to be
insulated from this as a majority of its
revenue is in the form of income from
bequests. The advice we have been
given by our investment manager is that
the effects of the economic downturn
are likely to become apparent later in
the year. We will therefore keep a close
watch on the situation.
More recently he appealed to the
Friends in order to sponsor an American
postgraduate to study engineering design
at Coventry University. Planning for this
was at a relatively early stage but some
donations had already been received.
It would therefore only be proper to
consider how to take this proposal
forward. I feel sure he would have
wanted that.
Several members of my family have
particularly happy memories of their
visits to Boston. They were always
made to feel welcome and were soon
aware of his many lively interests. These
included a particular love of music and
he was a past chairman and life trustee
of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Barbara and he travelled with the BSO
At the conclusion of the General
Meeting we were most fortunate that
Fitzroy, Lord Raglan gave an illustrated
talk about his many years working
on, driving in and competing with
Bugattis. It was thoroughly enjoyable
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
and fascinating. So many people these
days give their cars to others to maintain
and prepare for the road and as a result
fail to appreciate what makes them so
special. It was therefore thoroughly
refreshing to listen and learn from his
direct experience in doing the work
himself over half a century. He also
graciously allowed it to be filmed. We
are most grateful to David Weguelin of
Motorfilms who undertook this task.
establishment of the Bugatti factory in
Molsheim. The Bugatti Trust is working
together with the Bugatti Owners’ Club
to celebrate this event.
We are setting up a special display
featuring those early days of the factory
and the ex Peter Hampton 8 valve car on
loan from the National Motor Museum.
We are working on additional proposals
and as soon as they materialise members
will be informed.
As Bugatti historians will be well
aware 2009 is the centenary of the
Archive Management Seminar at the Bugatti Trust
The Bugatti Trust is in the forefront of
archive conservation. It has completed
a 10 year programme of scanning,
digitising and indexing 26,000 original
Bugatti Works drawings to preserve
originals, help historical understanding
and support owners and restorers
During February we organised a
seminar in conjunction with CSG
Ltd, our software supplier, to share
our experience. This was attended by
representatives of the Vintage Sports-Car
Club; Veteran Car Club; Vintage Motor
Cycle Club; Midlands Automobile Club;
Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust; Fraser Nash
Car Club; Fraser Nash Archive Trust;
Bentley Drivers’ Club; Bugatti Owners’
Club and the Rolls-Royce Enthusiast
Club. The event was successful both as
a learning exercise and an opportunity
for archivists to get to know one another
better. A series of mutual exchange visits
is planned.
Work continues with scanning of an
archive of 10,000 photographs more
than half complete and every item of the
Trust’s document archive, developed
from the original Conway collection,
has been indexed and recorded. Progress
is being made on handwritten Bugatti
Works ‘build lists’ for
each subassembly and
model and a matrix has
been generated which
shows commonality of
significant parts across
Delegates at the Archive
Management seminar at the
Bugatti Trust in February.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Alan Dixon is a member of the Hornby Railway Collectors’ Association and, more
generally, he is an historical railway enthusiast. This article, ‘The Bugatti Railcars –
the Prototypes’ was written for the HRCA magazine, The Hornby Railway Collector,
and first published in their June 2008 edition and reprinted here with Alan’s and the
HRCA’s permission. Alan’s thorough research and his links with the French SNCF
and other bodies have resulted in an article containing new information about the
Bugatti railcar story as well as an insight into some of the models.
The illustration of the ETAT tricaisse unit (at the end of the article) is from the
Bugatti Trust collection and Alan has also written with more information about
the location and the event shown in the photograph. That letter is included in this
Newsletter on page 16.
The Bugatti Railcars - The Prototypes
Alan Dixon
Having been introduced in the previous
decade in the interest of economy
of operation, self-propelled railcars
came increasingly into use in single or
multiple unit form, but it was not until
the early thirties that development of
units capable of higher speeds over
greater distances was achieved.
twin-car high speed units on services
from Berlin to Frankfurt and Hamburg,
whilst in France, the Nord company
constructed articulated three-car units
for its Paris-Lille service. The Meccano
company in Paris made an excellent
die-cast representation of one of these
Trains Automoteur Rapide (TAR)
units in the Dinky Toys range from the
Bobigny factory, and this appeared in the
English catalogue just before the Second
World War, whilst “Der Fliegender
Hamburger”, in its Reischbahn livery of
violet and cream, featured in Märklin’s
gauge ‘0’ tinplate range.
This was particularly the case on the
other side of the Atlantic, where newlyintroduced flyers such as “The City of
Portland” and “The Flying Yankee” were
being operated successfully by dedicated
diesel electric train sets at very high
speed over extremely long distances, and
Lionel produced some fine models of
these trains in the USA, for gauge ‘0’.
About this time, in common with
other companies in the industry, the
famous French motor car manufacturer
Bugatti experienced a downturn in
the market for their luxury cars, due
to the depressed economic conditions
of the time. This led to a need for
diversification, so Ettore Bugatti, who
was not a formally trained engineer,
decided to design a high speed railcar
himself, in order to use an adaptation
of the powerful “Royale” petrol engine,
of which there was probably a stock of
parts available at the Molsheim factory
in Alsace.
Whilst distances in Europe are tiny
in comparison with those in North
America, the European rail industry
concentrated its efforts initially on the
development of self-propelled railcars
for local work, before turning attention
to the design and introduction of
vehicles which could be run at express
train speeds over longer distances.
In Germany, the Deutsche Reischbahn
introduced its diesel electric articulated
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
With 800 horsepower ‘under the bonnet’ – the first of the original series of ETAT monocaisse
units of 1933. (The Bugatti Trust)
As the Nord was the only French railway
company actively pursuing development
in this field at that time, with a dieselelectric powered design of their own,
there was an almost instant market in
France for Bugatti’s revolutionary new
for they were indeed, revolutionary,
with their aerodynamic styling, the
use of lightweight materials in their
construction, the installation of
controlled ventilation somewhat akin
to an early form of air conditioning in
the passenger saloons, and their ultra
high speed, which enabled one unit to
establish a new French national record
of 192 kph on 24th October, 1934, on
the ETAT main line between Paris and
Le Mans.
This was developed in single, twin or
three-car configuration, and Meccano
France quickly produced models of
all three for gauge ‘0’. These were
quite good representations, albeit
rather short in length relative to the
proportions of the prototypes, and they
were available in the pre-nationalisation
company liveries of the French State
Railway (ETAT), and of the Paris-LyonMediterrannée (PLM). Non-reversing
clockwork and 20 volt a.c. versions were
available initially, but after the war, the
electric mechanism became reversible,
whilst the clockwork remained nonreversing. Only the twin railcar was
produced in this period, and the livery
was confined to the red and cream of the
Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer
Français (SNCF).
Power was provided for each unit
from a single motor coach equipped
with four straight eight internal
combustion engines, each developing
200 horsepower at 2500 rpm. These
were fuelled by a highly volatile mixture
of petrol, benzine and alcohol, which
was carried in an individual tank placed
beneath each engine – a similar mix
could have been found in the tanks of
the grand prix cars with which Bugatti
had been so successful hitherto, on the
motor racing circuits of Europe!
The driver was placed in a cupola
on the roof immediately above this
fantastic power house. Here, he had
all the controls, including oil pressure
What of the revolutionary prototypes for
these Série Hornby models, however,
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
An ETAT monocaisse unit makes a stop at Rouen, en route for Paris Saint Lazare. Note the
Normandy countryman on the platform, who is taking his wife “la Becassine” to Paris for the
first time, dressed in her regional costume!
gauges, rev counters, and throttles for
the individual engines, which enabled
him to use them singly or in multiple
of two, three or four, dependent upon
the demands of the route and the load
a pivotal bearing for the bogie itself, but
also as a shock absorber.
In order to stop these high speed
machines, braking was also
revolutionary, with the air brakes acting
upon all wheels by means of internal
drums cast into the dished wheel centres,
which were then bolted to the flanged
steel rims with a rubber interlayer so as
to reduce vibration.
Because of the enormous amount of
power available and the massive torque
developed at low revs, no gear box was
fitted except in later versions of the
monocaisse (single car) and tricaisse
(three-car) units, and drive from the
engines was transmitted via an hydraulic
clutch, by means of long Cardan shafts
to the middle pair of axles in each of the
two four-axle bogies. Thus, out of a total
of sixteen wheels, eight were directly
driven, with 800 horsepower available
for the purpose!
A further reduction in the transmission
of vibration to the passenger saloons
was achieved by the use of rubber
mountings between the aluminium
body and the two cross-braced pressed
steel longitudinal girders which formed
the chassis of each car, whilst wind
noise and resistance were reduced
by the fitting of a painted rubber
curtain between the cars in a multi-car
configuration, which was flush with the
outer shell of each adjoining car.
Suspension of these massive power
bogies as well as that of the four-axle
carrying bogies on the trailer cars was
ingenious, inasmuch as it comprised a
single central pivot consisting of an oilfilled cylinder containing a piston, which
enabled the device to serve not only as
Thus, every effort was made to ensure
quiet, smooth and vibration-free running
at the new high speeds of which the
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Bugattis were capable. Combined with
the novelty of controlled ventilation,
plus Pullman style individual seats,
carpets and removable tables, a kitchen
and buffet, toilet facilities, and a separate
compartment for baggage, the – in 21st
century parlance – ‘travel experience’
would have been ‘light years’ ahead of
its time, seventy five years ago, when
the Bugattis first entered commercial
service. Indeed, they proved to be
justifiably popular with their clientele,
and very successful, introducing as they
did a new era of high speed travel in
multiple working, or, indeed, in the case
of the ETAT, to haul one of their five
specially constructed Bugatti trailers.
In accordance with the individual
company’s planned use, internal
layouts varied also, ranging from an
all third class monocaisse with seating
for 78 passengers, to the ETAT 144
seat tricaisse in 1st, 2nd and 3rd class
configuration. Later monocaisse units
were available in several different
lengths as well, but they were now
equipped with only two engines.
These were mounted transversely, and
thus, made more space available for
the passenger saloons. Indeed, in the
surallongée (super-stretched) versions, a
total of 99 third class passengers could
be seated!
Several companies purchased the
Bugatti in a variety of configurations
since, initially at least, the units had only
rudimentary buffing and drawgear, and
could not therefore be run in multiple.
However, some later examples were
equipped with more conventional
couplings and brake hoses, to facilitate
By contrast, the bicaisse (two-car)
units of the PLM provide us with an
example of an all 1st class arrangement.
A new era begins, as this PLM bicaisse unit provides a sharp contrast with the locomotivehauled suburban train in the background. (La Vie du Rail)
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Here, a total of 36 passengers were
allocated with seats in the two saloons
of the power car, whilst the second,
non-motorised car of the unit, which
was linked to its neighbour by a
vestibule connection, was equipped with
seating, once again in two saloons, for
a further 38 passengers. The kitchen
and buffet were staffed, and the chef
du train (guard) was allocated a small
compartment at the front of the leading
car in each direction of travel, where he
had emergency brake control and direct
communication with the driver, since
his view of the track immediately ahead,
was unobstructed, unlike that of the
timings on the express service from
Paris to Le Havre, which was reached
in one hour and fifty eight minutes at
an average speed of 116 kph, whilst
the PLM substituted monocaisse units
on the Vichy service and transferred
their bicaisse examples to the “Ligne
Impériale” – their most important main
line, between Paris and Marseille.
Over in eastern France, in Bugatti’s
home territory, the Alsace-Lorraine
company allocated their three-car units
to an accelerated service between Paris
and Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace,
which was reached in four hours end
twenty five minutes, whilst their single
car units were deployed on the service to
Bâle in Switzerland.
Given the fashion between the wars for
‘taking the waters’, the PLM put their
blue and cream Bugattis to work on the
difficult “Bourbonnais” route from Paris
to Vichy, whilst from 1st July, 1933, the
ETAT introduced their new monocaisse
units to provide a ‘rapide’ between Paris
and the seaside at Deauville, which cut
twenty five minutes from the previous
best steam locomotive-hauled schedule.
After the nationalisation of the railways
in 1938, SNCF ordered two more threecar units from Bugatti, for the ParisStrasbourg service, but sadly, this and
the service to Bâle were cut off abruptly,
with the outbreak of war in September,
During the Nazi occupation of France,
a number of Bugattis were appropriated
to Germany, and the remainder were
The ETAT later used their Bugattis
to effect similar improvements to
Lyon 1938: two bicaisse units, one now SNCF and the other retaining the original PLM
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
At Le Havre, this ETAT tricaisse unit awaits the dis-embarkation of its ocean liner passengers
for Paris.
laid aside due to lack of fuel. However,
with the cessation of hostilities, those
units remaining in France, which were
still serviceable, were put back to work,
and SNCF also took delivery of the last
two to be produced – the surallongée
monocaisse units XB4301 and 4302, but
with the shattered condition of much of
ETAT tricaisse unit ZZy24482 of 1936 is here decorated with the tricolore of France, for a
special occasion. (see also Alan Dixon’s letter on page 16)
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
the rail network, it was some time before
they were able to regain something
of their former prestigious role. This
was, sadly, to be comparatively shortlived, due in part to the shortage of
suitable fuel, but also to the problems of
reliability, following the neglect of the
war years.
in miniature, by Hornby’s beautiful,
brightly-liveried gauge ‘0’ models.
In conclusion, I must express my thanks
to the Bugatti Trust for their interest
and invaluable assistance in checking
my copy for its historical accuracy. I
must also thank them for their kind
permission to reproduce the two images
from their archive, which show the
ETAT monocaisse and tricaisse units.
The last Bugattis in service were
withdrawn from the south east region
of SNCF in 1958. Here, they had been
providing an express service along the
Côte d’Azur between Marseille and
the Italian frontier at Vintimille. Thus,
twenty five years after the arrival of
the first unit in the Spring of 1933, the
Bugattis were no more. However, of
the 78 units produced at Molsheim, one
survives, and it is possible to view this
magnificent machine at La Cité du Train
– the French National Railway Museum,
at Mulhouse in Alsace. Meanwhile,
the Bugatti legacy is preserved for us
Next, I must thank La Vie du Rail in
France, for their kind permission to
reproduce the images of the ETAT driver
and his charge, and the PLM bicaisse.
Finally, thanks must also go to JeanMarc Combe at La Cité du Train in
Mulhouse, for his assistance with my
research, and to Mike Swinn of the
SNCF Society here in the UK, who
provided me with further reference
Ettore Bugatti, a charming man
There is a delightful snippet about
Bugatti in the book ‘Spitfire, the
illustrated biography’ by Jonathan
Glancey, first published in 2006.
me with a brand-new Talbot-Darracq for
my twenty-first birthday – it was parked
outside the Ritz ready for when I woke
up and looked out of the window – we
took her for a spin up to Montmartre.
I burned out the clutch. Father wasn’t
at all upset. He simply telephoned
his friend, Ettore, who had the car
returned to the Ritz as good as new in
the evening. That was Ettore Bugatti,
a charming man. I think I was rather
Diana Barnato Walker was the daughter
of the famous Le Mans winning Bentley
driver, Woolf Barnato. During the
second world war Diana was an Air
Transport Auxiliary pilot. The ATA
carried out the delivery of all types of
aircraft for the RAF. Diana flew many
Spitfires and was the only woman ATA
pilot to have flown across the Channel
into France during the war.
We enjoyed the book. The ISBN is 978 1
84354 799 0
In the book, Diana is quoted: “When
my father (Woolf Barnato) presented
Diana Barnato Walker was born on 15
January 1918 and died on 28 April 2008.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Factory Maintenance Manual Type 38/40
The Bugatti factory maintenance manual
for the Types 38 and 40, dated 1926/27,
is a most interesting document. Its style
might seem rather charmingly formal
today but it gives us an insight into
taking ownership of a new Bugatti car
83 years ago and much of the advice will
still be useful to Bugatti owners today.
Although it is titled ‘Types 38 and 40’
it really is also applicable to most other
Bugatti Types at least from Type 30 to
Type 49.
as possible. The original version is in
French and Chris and Elizabeth Warman
have produced a very good English
translation which we will include as
plain paper texts with the facsimiles.
Most of the originals, it seems, were
produced without the first 8 pages which
form a sort of introduction to some
copies. These particularly rare pages
set out to explain exactly how the
Bugatti is superior to any other make of
car. They contain testimonial letters
from long standing and satisfied
The original booklet has become rare
and valuable and we are in the process
of producing a small batch of facsimiles.
These copies will be printed to look
and feel as exactly like the originals
This is the translation of one of these
letters from Baron Eugène de Dietrich:
Baron Eugene de Dietrich
Jaegerthal, Alsace
27th February 1909
Dear Mr. Bugatti,
Mr. Pétri has told me of your wish to receive a written recommendation regarding
your cars, which have served us for several years. It is with pleasure that I can
confirm that they have been entirely satisfactory to us, always and in every respect.
Of the four vehicles, one open tourer, two large saloons and one semi-saloon, all of
your 1903, 35PS, have been driven more than 100,000 kilometers, and all are still
in perfect condition today. The oldest one, the open tourer, was entirely stripped and
checked after covering about 200,000 kilometers, and the main parts were still in
perfect condition. Except for a few bronze bushes, there was nothing that required
I would emphasize particularly the gears in the gearbox, which have not yet shown
any signs of wear.
Our satisfaction in using your cars has been confirmed by a good number of clients
who have been driven in them over the years. All are agreed that your cars possess
a sturdiness and robustness which will withstand every test, and a number of those
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
who have since purchased other more modern cars, have often found themselves
regretting they no longer had their old Bugatti, which had never let them down.
With my warm and affectionate greetings,
Signed: Baron Eugène de DIETRICH
P.S. In the last few days a car has been brought to us for repair from Verkehrstruppen
of Metz. They assure us that of all the different makes of car that they have used,
yours is the sturdiest and most robust.
Ettore Bugatti could surely not have
chosen a more influential person
to quote in his manual than Baron
Eugène de Dietrich, head of one of the
most successful and long established
industrial companies in France. De
Dietrich was a household name. The
Baron had employed Bugatti, when he
was only 20 years old, to design and
build the De Dietrich (système Bugatti)
cars of 1903 to which he refers in his
letter. The four cars mentioned are the
larger touring De Dietrich Bugattis
(Bugatti’s Type 4).
designed …” (Conway ‘Bugatti le Pur
Sang des Automobiles’). Although this
may be true the Baron’s letter shows that
there remained a great deal of good will.
“All his life Baron Eugène de Dietrich
had a soft spot for Ettore. Each kept
the other informed of personal events,
such as the engagements of the Baron’s
children, and they also did each other
favours. Ettore smoothed the progress of
the Baron’s relations with Deutz, while
the Baron provided Ettore with excellent
credentials. The Tone of their letters was
cordial. The Baron addressed his letters
to “My dear Bugatti” and generally
ended with his “most affectionate
greetings” (Steinhauser ‘Ettore Bugatti
L’Artisan de Molsheim’)
Until recently the historians have
suggested that the relationship between
Bugatti and De Dietrich had become
difficult by early 1904 and, or because,
the cars were unreliable: “The de
Dietrich arrangement terminated,
probably with the firm being tired of
Ettore’s lack of attention to detail
and reliability of the cars he had
This testimonial letter of 1909 really
represents the highest possible praise
for those early de Dietrich Bugatti
cars and comes from the best possibly
Great minds often think alike!
We are all aware of the design
philosophy of Ettore Bugatti which
encompassed using a minimum of
components on the chassis of his
article in The Automobile Engineer,
November 1919, stated that:
“I first met Lawrence Pomeroy (Chief
Engineer of Vauxhall Motors) in 1909
and he gladdened me by beginning the
conversation by stating his maxim that
one should design for ‘fewness of bits’.”
We read that Edgar N. Duffield, engineer
and motoring journalist of note in an
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Bugatti Suspension Theory and Practice
Hugh and Barrie Price
In a perfect world where a vehicle body
can be considered totally rigid, the
level of its vertical disturbance when
subject to vertical input from the wheels
is controlled by the body’s weight and
the ease with which the wheels can rise
and fall. The mechanism by which the
wheels are allowed to rise and fall with
respect to the body will not play a part,
provided the wheel motion is vertical.
further example is the fore-aft coupling
of Moulton’s Hydrolastic system.
So no, considered from a theoretical
perspective no advantage can be claimed
for any particular flavour of spring
arrangement, be it semi-elliptic, quarter
elliptic, coil or gas. We can make a
simple mathematical comparison if we
are not convinced:
So far we have supposed not only that
the sprung mass is perfectly rigid but
that springs act only as perfect springs
and that wheels are guided in perfect
vertical motion by magic hands. The first
of these we vintage enthusiasts know to
be perfectly untrue and the older practice
of using the springs for wheel location
creates significant compromises.
Successful design is surely the
achievement of good compromise
between objectives and constraints.
Unfortunately among the constraints
are material behaviour and physics
along with cost and manufacturing
considerations. Perhaps Ettore selected
the reversed quarter elliptic arrangement
as the best way he saw of achieving
The stiffness of the wheel’s vertical
motion we shall term wheel rate. Where
we have a mass and a stiffness we shall
also have a natural frequency or period.
Actually the deflections in the four
springs can give rise to not only pure
vertical movement of the body (bounce)
but angular changes in both side and
front views (pitch and roll), each having
it’s own natural frequency. Where each
corner has its own entirely discrete
suspension system it still holds true
that the means of connecting the hub to
the body will not influence behaviour.
Where suspension mechanisms will
have an influence however is where
they achieve additional stiffness at the
wheels and/or coupling between hubs.
One example of this, probably evident in
every vehicle today, is the anti-roll bar. A
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Clearly, for whatever reason
(practicality, market acceptance...),
his chosen layout was front engined
with rear wheel drive, so there was
good space for fuel at the rear. The
coachwork, fuel and luggage loads
balance the mass of the engine and
cooling system at the front while aiding
traction. Structure to support these loads
would therefore be a necessity, not
‘parasitic’ so while you are at it, why not
use the structure as somewhere to attach
the suspension?
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Jiro Shirasu
We have yesterday received the Newsletter No. 30 and were very pleased with
the article you put on Page 3. It read very well and interesting. Hopefully it will
lead us to some information about this car. By the way, we wonder if there is any
chance of getting another copy, Julie. We went to Japan last month to take part in
La Festa Mille Miglia, an event affiliated to Mille Miglia in Italy and there we met
Jiro Shirasu’s grandson who was also in the rally as a co-driver of Ex-Jiro Shirasu
W. O. Bentley (It was rather nice to see him in his grandfather’s car). We talked to
him about our research and promised him that we will keep him updated about it
since he showed great interest. We will be happy to pay for this additional copy,
which we would like to send to him.
Kind regards
Atsuko Househam
The Bugatti Railcars
This letter refers to the photograph of the ETAT tricaisse unit at the end of Alan
Dixon’s article on page 10. Ed.
Information continues to come to hand on the subject, and I thought that you might
be interested in identification of the event and location depicted in the archival
illustration of the tricaisse unit, which you kindly let me use to illustrate my article.
I had thought initially, that the location looked like the Vosges, but the ETAT running
number on the Bugatti unit completely flawed me!
However, Andy Hart, Secretary of the SNCF Society here in the UK, has identified
the event as being the opening ceremony on 8th August, 1937 at Saint-Marie-auxMines in Alsace, of the new 6.874km tunnel through the Vosges mountains!
This was in Alsace-Lorraine territory, but that Company did not take delivery
of their tricaisse units until the following year, so I guess that the ETAT unit
was ‘borrowed’ in order to create a spectacular modern presence for this special
The tunnel construction was apparently, the product of a prestigious work creation
scheme, and it was the longest tunnel wholly in France upon its completion.
Yours etc
Alan G. Dixon
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Bugatti Oval Stud
Charles Levy has asked if we know anything about a steel die for stamping Ettore
Bugatti’s signature within an oval stud. His letter and the pictures give all the
details. Can anyone provide more information? Ed.
I’ve acquired an artefact which is mysterious to me, but hopefully won’t be to you. It
is made of steel; 4cm x 4cm x 4cm. Ettore’s raised signature is in the concave center
of an otherwise flat surface that has on it: “F-D” and “5917”. On the side is written:
“Villemin” with “Unis” above it and “France” below it, and “99” below “France”.
The sides of this stamp are slightly tapered outwards going towards the base.
Have you encountered anything with this form of Ettore’s signature (only 1.5 cm
across) stamped on it?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Charles Levy
Type 57S Detail
I read your article concerning the T57S radiator grille. I had not been aware of the
fact that the diamond grille was only used on the last five chassis. I believed they
were delivered at random. Although I have never heard of the 57S overheating
this could be an explanation as the vertical bars obstruct about 50% of the radiator
opening. The diamond grille is of much thinner section and might at a maximum
obstruct 10% of the opening. What do you think?
Best regards
Erik Koux
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Bugatti Handling Qualitites
Our general view of the handling design features of the Type 35 is,
1. The center of gravity is aft, approximately a 40/60 front/rear weight distribution
2. With equal tire sizes, and roll centers at about axle height, the aft CG facilitates
more equal load on the wheels under heavy braking and heavy load on the rear
wheels on acceleration.
3. But the aft CG means that the car is basically oversteer.
4. However, the positive camber on the front wheels when the car is cornering (ie,
under lateral weight transfer), reduces the inherent oversteer and tends to make
the car neutral steer. Neutral steer on this car improves the controllability.
After we wrote Race Car Vehicle Dynamics and it was used as a textbook in colleges
(at least 30 of them), our publisher (SAE) insisted we write a “problem/answer”
book. One of our problems in Chapter 13 referred to the Type 35A Bugatti. I’m
enclosing the problem statement and also our answers.
I agree with you that Bugatti put the positive camber on the front from experience
with carriages (horse drawn vehicles). I seriously doubt that he put it on to affect the
vehicle stability.
We have spent so much time thinking about camber on MX-1, that it was an easy
jump to recognize the effect of the positive camber on the Type 35. I even discussed
it with René Dreyfus years ago.
Now we come to the recent article by Robert Cumberford in which he claims that it
was Bugatti’s intuition that positive camber would promote understeer and so on.
I’ve been able to contact Cumberford and discuss his article (copy enclosed). He is
very complimentary regarding the Type 35 and I agree with most of it, but Bob is not
an analytical engineer and I suspect he still believes that the positive camber on front
is due to Bugatti’s intuition. The understeering effect of the positive camber only
occurs under lateral weight transfer. Our tests at CAL on a circle confirms subjective
opinion that the car is close to neutral steer.
Cumberford is the Automotive Design Editor of Automobile Magazine. Some years
ago he ran his own car company and produced some interesting cars using Citroen
components, possible from the model SM.
Hope this answers your questions. Feel free to use it in your Trust reports.
Best Wishes
Bill Milliken
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Attached to the letter are copies of some of Bill Milliken’s notes published as
a problem/answer book and a copy of an article by Robert Cumberford for of September 2008. Ed.
Historical Note on Vehicle Dynamics Development - W Milliken
The Type 35 Bugatti
• All up racing weight ~ 1850 lb., 40/60 front/rear weight distribution
• Equal sized tires all around, 28 in. diameter, about 30 psi front, 35 psi rear
• Solid axles front and rear with roll centers at about axle height
• Stiff ride springs, considerably stiffer on the front than on the rear, damping by
friction shocks and inter-leaf friction
Fast steering ratio, worm and wheel steering box, drag link to right front wheel
and track rod, 6-8 deg. positive caster
Positive static camber (wheels tilted outward) at front
Front engine bolted solidly to frame and very substantial dash bulkhead, a very
stiff chassis (torsional and beaming) for its day
Bill Milliken sets out his impressions and gives explanations of the possible basis for
the impressions:
a. Acceleration: Wheelspin was seldom encountered on a dry surface, but
occasionally occurred on gravel or low-coefficient surfaces. Directional control
was good with rapid response, so loss of control (spin) was seldom a problem
during straight ahead acceleration.
Considering the power-to-weight ratio and load on the rear wheels (static
plus the increase due to longitudinal acceleration), one would not expect rear
wheelspin on high-coefficient surfaces.
b. Braking: By modern standards, braking was just adequate. Directional control
during braking was satisfactory, but pedal forces were high. With better brakes I
might not have lost it at “Milliken’s Corner”, Watkins Glen Grand Prix, 1948!
The brakes were unboosted, cable operated with a mechanical equalizer in
the cockpit. The brakes were small internal drum brakes with two shoes,
non-selfenergizing. Because of the pedal arrangement, left foot braking was
occasionally used. Good stability under braking is accounted for by the dynamic
wheel loading, and the near neutral response of the car due to higher rear tire
pressure, larger lateral weight transfer on front and the positive camber of the
front wheels all compensating for the basically aft CG.
c. Turn-in: Under hard braking, turn-in frequently resulted in breakaway at the rear
wheels, which could usually be caught by reverse steering. Movies of the car at
Watkins Glen (1948), Bridgehampton (1949), etc., consistently indicated this
behaviour on dry roads.
This occurred mainly because of the unloading of the rear wheels. On a tight
circuit like Palm Beach Shores this turn-in behavior was desirable.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
d. Steady Cornering: At high lateral accelerations, the steering control forces were
very high. On Big Bend at Watkins Glen at 90-100 mph, I was tugging with both
hands on one side of the wheel to keep from running off the outside of the road.
The high steering forces are due to large caster, the very fast steering ratio and
friction in the system.
e. Directional Response to Control: The impression in driving was one of good
response to the steering and well-damped transients.
Part of this feel may have been due to the fast steering. For its day, the car was
not undertired. It would be very interesting to measure some transient responses
to step steering inputs.
f. Rough Road: The car gives the impression of being very stiffly sprung,
particularly on the front. At Giant’s Despair (a hill climb), the photos show the
front end off the ground on a rough turn which confirms driver impression of loss
of control. On rough surfaces the front end is bobbing up and down continuously.
Subjectively this gives a nice feeling of “liveliness” and the necessity for
continuous control action, bringing the driver into the control loop. Objectively it
is probably less desirable.
The salient points from Robert Cumberford’s article “Bugatti Type 35, the best
racing car of all time”
“…It handled better than anything else on the road.”
“…in an epoch of wildly oversteering cars, it was magnificently neutral,
thanks to Ettore’s intuition that extreme camber promoted understeer…”
“The positive camber seems exaggerated but along with light weight, it
contributed mightily to the superb balance of the Bugatti racing cars.”
Dear Editor
Fitzroy Raglan makes some interesting points in his letter in the Autumn newsletter.
I’m not qualified to debate Ettore Bugatti’s artistic abilities (although I entirely agree
about the Brescia) and I certainly don’t want to decry his engineering achievements
but during a long career in aeronautical and automobile engineering I have been
fascinated by how many different varieties of extremely talented engineer there are –
practical, theoretical, conceptual, inventive.
But very few have it all and I am sometimes reminded of the Peter Cook sketch in
which he appears as a miner – he wanted to be a judge, he said, but he didn’t have
the Latin. Many eminent engineers have been handicapped because they didn’t
have the essential mathematics and fundamental physics which underlie all design
analysis and without which they will inevitably become confused by the twin perils
of intuition and common sense. The few who did, like Fred Lanchester and Maurice
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Olley, often made outstanding contributions and so did others like Colin Chapman,
who recognised their own deficiencies and used specialists to compensate.
There is a basic theory in statics which says that you can replace any given force
(in this case the force applied by the road to the rear wheel) by an equal force in
the same plane applied to the system at a different point together with a couple.
When you work this out you find that the system (the sprung part of the car)
behaves exactly as it would if the original force simply acted on it directly – and this
applies equally to the chassis frame inclination. But in some practical ways things
are not quite the same as you can clearly see if you imagine the spring rate of the
reversed quarter elliptics being kept constant but the springs themselves being made
progressively longer and therefore heavier. The stressed rearward chassis frame
extensions required would add further to this additional, parasitic weight.
His last point, about transmitting the power to the road, is interesting. In the late
40s when I drove Austin 7s in trials I noticed the same thing which I attributed to
the torque tube rear axle. With this layout, when you drop the clutch, the torque
reaction, acting through the nose of the torque tube, lifts the back of the car and
correspondingly presses the rear wheels into the ground. Bugattis experience the
same effect because of the torque radius arm. The effect, of course, is transient
because you can’t go on lifting the back for long, but this initial impulse does seem
to be an aid to moving off rather than just sitting stationary with the wheels spinning.
Charles Bulmer
Bugatti Talks
We are regularly asked to give illustrated talks or lectures on various aspects of
Bugatti History. Our second talk for James Dyson engineers at Malmesbury in
February was designed to show something of Bugatti’s logical and economical
methods of production at Molsheim. Production cost saving is a popular theme at
present. Also in February we delivered a lecture to students of Aeronautical and
Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University. Scot Layton, who arranged
this lecture, sent us this kind letter of thanks:
Thank you for delivering your lecture on behalf of the Bugatti Trust. The students’
feedback is very good and I feel they will benefit significantly for hearing the history
of Bugatti. It is a unique opportunity to have a visiting speaker that has your vast
knowledge of the manufacturing of Bugatti cars and engines. This particular lecture
is useful in the fact that it demonstrates a case study of success and methods utilised
to this day, for marketing and selling of cars through Motorsport.
I hope you will be available in subsequent years to deliver this valuable lecture to
young engineers.
Scot Layton
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
An Ettore Bugatti Sketch of a marine snatch block
The hook is noted “factory modified
Yele of 500kgs.” (was Yele a trade
supplier of hooks?) Perhaps Bugatti
proposed to improve the shape of the
standard hook by removing the outward
flair of the point.
This Ettore Bugatti Sketch was provided
to the Bugatti Trust by Andrew Nahum
who is Principal Curator of Transport
Technologies at the Science Museum,
London. It shows a marine snatch
block and it is signed and dated 4/4/40.
At that date work had just started on
the construction of Ettore’s last yacht,
Barbara III, by Macario of Trouville
(ref. Ettore Bugatti’s yacht – Barbara
III, Bugantics 69.1). From stem to stern
the yacht bristled with Ettore’s unusual,
beautiful and ingenious design features.
This pulley block would have been one
of them but the yacht was not complete
when Ettore died – it was not fitted out –
the block was probably never made.
The body of the block is made of two
main parts which hinge about the axis
of the pulley wheel. There is a dovetail
connection of these two parts on a
radius of this axis to enable the block
to open for inserting the rope. There are
two sprung buttons which lock when
the block is closed and these are fully
dimensioned in the sketch, lower right.
The face elevation shows the classic
Carlo/Ettore egg shape with the buttons
positioned near the pointed, top of the
The sketch, as is usual with Ettore’s
sketches, shows much detail:
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
View of the full size model based on Ettore’s 1940 sketch of a snatch block
This design seems to be another example of Ettore’s design elegance. The locking
mechanism is a delight. We thought it was worth making a full size model in bronze
and aluminium.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Two more views of the block showing the opening action with the radiused dovetail.
Bugatti Type 15, Chassis Number 366,
on display at the Trust
To commemorate the centenary of the
Bugatti factory at Molsheim the Trust
has been able to secure the loan of this
8 valve ‘Pur Sang’ Bugatti through
the generosity of the National Motor
years by the late Peter Hampton, one
of the founder members of the Bugatti
Trust. It is reputed to have been owned
by Madame Bugatti and displayed at the
Paris Salon and is also thought to have
been used on the battlefields in France
during WW1.
First delivered to the agent Huet of
Paris on 13 December 1910, 366 is the
second earliest Bugatti car remaining
in existence. It was owned for many
This historic Bugattis will be on
display at the Trust from mid May for
approximately two months.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Type 57 Display Engine
The purchase at auction last year of
a Type 57 engine led to a request in
the Trust Newsletter and Bugantics
magazine for parts that were missing
from it. Initial response was slow but
things are now on the move. We have
the engine back at the Trust, freshly
sandblasted and polished thanks to the
services of our ex-chairman Barrie Price
and the momentum has continued with
enthusiastic support from both members
and trustees alike.
Gardiner. We would like to thank them
also for their generosity and await these
parts with eagerness.
We would also like to mention that we
were fortunate to purchase a crankshaft
at auction from a gentleman in the south
of England. Nick Murray, who lives in
the area, kindly volunteered to collect,
store and deliver it to us.
We are still missing some parts to get
the engine up together which include
the semi circular timing cover that sits
on top of the timing gear tower at the
rear of the engine. There are two of
these, one for each camshaft gear and
we require the plain cover (exhaust
side) without the distinctive cut-out
for the distributor. A flywheel, front
crankshaft damper, clutch, oil filter
assembly, tubular water rail (this sits
on the cylinder block) water pump and
an HT electrical conduit would also be
gratefully received.
We have indeed been very fortunate to
have such a knowledgeable and good
friend in Erik Koux, the builder of
wonderful Bugatti Atlantic replicas who
has very kindly donated several major
components which will enable us to
achieve our goal. We are truly grateful
for this gesture of support.
Other offers of parts promised by
donation or loan have come from three
of our Trustees and Crosthwaite &
Michael Ulrich
We have just heard of the sad death of
Michael Ulrich and we will include an
appreciation of Michael in the next issue.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
If you know someone who may be interested in joining the Bugatti Trust do pass on
these details of membership.
The Bugatti Trust – Summer 2009
Items for sale at the Bugatti Trust
Grand Prix Bugatti, 3rd Edition by H G Conway
£45 plus post and packing
Rest of World
Bugatti – The 8-cylinder Touring Cars 1920-1934
By Barrie Price and Jean-Louis Arbey
£30 plus post and packing
Rest of World
Bugatti T57S by Bernhard Simon & Julius Kruta
£85 plus post and packing
Rest of World
Bugatti DVD by H G Conway – Part 1
(Running time 70 minutes)
PAL/NTSC format both formats available
(please state which you require)
£19.99 plus post and packing
Rest of World
Full Throttle – Bugatti by Tracy Maurer
(Children’s book)
£11.00 plus post and packing
Bugatti Type 35C No. 4928 by Lennart Haajanen
Limited availability
£28.00 plus post and packing
Rest of World
A few back issues of the Bugatti Trust Newsletters are still available - at 10 each
plus post and packing.
Any of the above can be obtained direct from the Bugatti Trust
by telephoning +44 (0)1242 677201 during office hours,
or by emailing to [email protected] please also refer to our
web site for other information on items for sale:-
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