Financial results on Christmas are out, I love Christmas, after a long hard year we get to enjoy the marvellous advertising campaigns and merchandising this sacred time of sales opportunity provides. It is a bit of luck that some obscure religious festival also gives everybody some time off to make the most of the tireless efforts of the marketing and retail staff to help out the ailing credit card industry. What! You mean the birth of Christ is the important thing, surely not. I guess that in line with whether this is the second or third year of the new millennium, or, if the euro is a good thing or the whole terrorist/freedom fighter debate, all depends on your perspective. To me the wholesale hijacking of Christmas smacks of money changers in the temple, it’s a shame that the church doesn’t own the trademarks as roofers would be doing very well. If they did perhaps I could buy the name Christ, produce a range of high class furniture and sell them as being genuine products of the son of god! With the right advertising budget I’m sure it would work. The church could do with the money, the increase in profile of a good ad campaign would help with the value of the existing artefacts, and the archaeologists, well money is the important thing, isn’t it?
I suppose our chosen form of sacrilege is equally subjective, does deviating from pure Bugatti design corrupt the experience and devalue the achievement of racing and touring these remarkable cars. Or, conversely, allow for a greater enjoyment of a wider cross-section of car owner over a broader range driving conditions. To me the Type 44 is the best of the Bugatti touring cars, as designed it is practical, reliable and entirely at home on the A and B roads which it was designed for. Add a cerrami-metallic clutch and its manners in congested town driving improves, recess the radiator for an electric fan and traffic jams no longer require anxious glances at the temperature gauge. Overdrive conversions reduce the strain of motorway driving for man and machine (oh, and ours are £2,500 + VAT fitted). There are less legitimate excuses for twin carbs, special cranks and revised dampers, unless you like to go faster and breathless Bentleys in your mirror give a certain satisfaction. Alfin type brake drums go hand in hand with the increased go, I suppose we could look at these as optional extras,
I recently got into a conversation with a potential Type 57 owner, after listing the good points of these cars he asked me if we had any mods for them we recommended. “Not really” I replied, “we do have overdrives which are a great help in reducing RPM which helps with unleaded valve seat recession, and…”. By the time I had covered clutches, vibration dampers, ignitions, water pumps and a really neat electric fuel reserve valve I was surprised at how many detail changes we can make. For the type 35 the “extra’s” list is very short, balanced by a long list of standard parts for the GP cars, which due to our extensive experience in racing and restoration meet and often exceed the quality of the originals.
You might think it would be easy to produce parts of equal quality to the original with modern techniques and practices, however, Bugatti castings were very good by the standards of the period and modern industry doesn’t like the low volumes we produce. This is why the production of new cylinder blocks (T46, T51, T44 ) can prove to be a long drawn out process, especially as we insist on guaranteeing their quality in the manner of our 35 blocks. We replace any faulty block with another at no cost, it happens so rarely we have had no reason to review this policy, the T46 and 51 blocks are now ready for public consumption T44’s will follow. After two years of consolidation and product development we are again in a position to supply parts, from cylinder blocks to drain plugs, crown wheel and pinions (T35 £595.00 + VAT) to steering arms. New areas will include body panels in the manner of Peels (although better shape and quality), Julian’s triple stud tyres and period accessories. Our new price list and catalogue are in production and will be available from the 1st March, call or fax to be added to our mailing list.
2002 was a busy year, Monaco came around again, with the added bonus of Pau the week before and the Italian rally soon after, it’s felt like a southern European tour. It’s funny every year I get to attend major events and high profile rallies but invariably it’s the traditional pub meet or VSCC driving test, weekend splashing around on a muddy trial or impromptu gathering of Bugatti enthusiasts which provide me with the best memories. No impressive photo opportunities or lavish corporate hospitality but an embodiment of the spirit that preserved our passion before it had commercial value. How to celebrate these blue cars, which so moved my grandfather and eighty years later we maintain for the present custodians, like Christmas all depend on your perspective.
Lydia’s supercharged type 40 has a new owner as the previous owner, a customer of many years, used it very little and felt it was tragic to leave such a unique vehicle garaged, if history has a value this must be one of the most valuable Bugatti’s in the world. Although it was Lydia’s car, it was used as a factory run about, most of the famous racing drivers of the period borrowed it for transport between the factory and their hotel while inspecting the progress of their racing cars. Lydia kept the car until the early 1970s when she decided that she was too old to drive, it was then purchased by Pat Preston whose husband Ian has owned and raced Bugattis including a Type 35B and a Type 43. She kept the car for 20 odd years before selling it to its current owner. The car has never been neglected, is completely original, has had only three owners from new and has an emotive history relating to the golden age of the Bugatti car and family.
Does history have a value? Every year at auction cars with exceptional histories sell for many times what they would cost to recreate, auctions provide a comfort zone for the buyer knowing that someone else in the room similarly values the object of desire. Our business is the restoration and maintenance of Bugatti’s we don’t sell cars, sometimes we assist the passage of from one custodian to the next and for the Lydia, or any of “our” Bugatti’s, our comfort zone extends to cover years of ownership, it doesn’t stop at the fall of the hammer. Our race support and preparation extends beyond Bugatti and focuses on reliability performance and a professional approach, next time you run out of fuel on the last lap we’ll talk budgets. We aim to make enjoying the cars at race meetings, social rallies or the Bugatti Garden Party a satisfying experience, with such an ongoing commitment, to us, happy customers are worth their weight in gold.