1927 Bugatti Type 37A Grand Prix CarSOLD

RM Vintage Motorcars in Arizona - Biltmore Resort & Spa, Friday January 19, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $400,000 - $600,000

$489,500 Sold

The Ex-Chris Staniland, UK Speed Record-Setter

80hp, 1498cc single overhead camshaft inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, live axle suspension with semi-elliptic front and quarter-elliptic rear springs, four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400mm (94.5")

The original four-cylinder 1,327-1,496cc Bugatti Type 13, generally known as the Brescia, and its increasingly refined and developed single overhead camshaft successors were the basis upon which the Bugatti enterprise, the works at Molsheim, and Ettore Bugatti ’ s reputation and success were based. Some 2,000 of the diminutive four-cylinder cars were built in a sixteen year production run. The Bugatti Type 13 and its progeny were also the proving ground upon which Bugatti developed many of the features that would be seen in later Bugattis.

By the mid-twenties, however, the Brescia was no longer competitive and Bugatti moved on to design and build the legendary eight-cylinder Type 35 and its many variants. A new and more refined automobile, the Type 35 became the canvas upon which Ettore Bugatti executed his new ideas of form and function. The distinctive horseshoe radiator, finely tapered hood and body tail, narrow two-seat body, delicately curved front axle, eight- spoke aluminum alloy wheels and other distinctive features were instantly recognized as “ Bugatti ” . Under the hood, Bugatti devoted time and attention not only to the clean, refined layout of the engine but also to its meticulous finishing. Careful attention to details of fit and finish was evident throughout the Type 35 and came to distinguish all subsequent Bugattis.

The 2.3-liter Type 35 was, however, a complicated, high strung supercharged grand prix racer, intricately assembled with abundant ball and roller bearings with scant regard to cost. Even the unblown Type 35T, thinly disguised as a sports car, was in a league to which few sportsmen could aspire.

The Type 35 ’ s success, aesthetically, functionally and commercially, presented an opportunity for Bugatti to design a reasonably priced, easily maintained successor to the Brescia. It was designated the Bugatti Type 37, and for it Bugatti designed an elegant and refined but mechanically simple 11/2 liter four-cylinder engine. The Type 37 combined the elegance of the Type 35 engine ’ s “ carved from a single block of metal ” presentation, skillfully machined on all surfaces, with the simplicity of four cylinders, a one-piece crankshaft, plain bearings and a two-piece aluminum crankcase. It retained Bugatti ’ s simple and effective three-valve per cylinder breathing with two intake valves and a single exhaust valve, actuated by a shaft-driven single overhead camshaft.

The Type 37 fit neatly into Bugatti ’ s model range, replacing the dated Brescia with a new and attractive model that shared its visual identity and market appeal with the thoroughbred Type 35. Sharing designs and components, particularly the body, chassis and suspension, with the Type 35 also conferred welcome economies on both the grand prix cars and the less expensive sports models. Only a few were built in the Type 37 ’ s first year, 1925, but the following year saw 120 Type 37 ’ s built, followed by 87 in 1927 and 45 in 1928. Production continued until 1933.

As successful as the Type 37 was, however, its performance with only 50-60 horsepower was more boulevardier than racer so in 1927 Bugatti added a shortened version of the Type 35 ’ s Roots supercharger, creating the Type 37A, still with 1,498cc but now making 80+ horsepower. The Type 37A ’ s competition purpose was also evident in magneto ignition and the optional availability of Bugatti ’ s signature aluminum wheels in place of the Type 37 ’ s more ordinary wire wheels. Eventually, 77 Type 37As were built before production ended in 1930.

With 1,498cc, the Type 37A fit a different competition category from its faster two and two-plus liter eight- cylinder counterparts, creating an important opportunity for Bugatti clients to compete successfully. One who recognized the Type 37A ’ s potential was a Fairey Aviation test pilot, Chris Staniland. Staniland already owned a naturally aspirated two-liter eight-cylinder Bugatti Type 35A but in September 1927 he replaced it with Bugatti Type 37A chassis number 37290, the car offered here, fitted from the very beginning with Bugatti ’ s distinctive eight-spoke aluminum wheels.

Staniland then began an active racing campaign with this Type 37A, starting at Brooklands just a couple months after taking delivery. Over the next four years Staniland raced regularly and successfully at Brooklands on both the oval and the Mountain course. In 1928, the Staniland/Type 37A combination recorded four outright wins and two second places.

Also in 1928, at the end of the season in September, Staniland set out to capture the British Class-F 11/2-liter speed record for distances and times up to one hour. The existing records had been set a year earlier by land speed record specialist George Eyston in a supercharged, two-liter, eight-cylinder Type 39A Grand Prix Bugatti. Staniland ’ s four-cylinder Type 37A set out strong, breaking Eyston ’ s records for the standing start mile, 50 and 100 kilometers but ultimately fell just short of Eyston ’ s one hour record of 115.55 mph, retiring from the attempt after averaging 115.82 mph for 52 minutes while setting the 100 kilometer record. Staniland also lapped Brooklands at 122.07 mph in 1929, an accomplishment which is cited as evidence of the Type 37A ’ s extraordinary performance in all the standard Bugatti reference works.

The history of Chris Staniland ’ s Type 37A after it was retired from competition has been traced by Bugatti expert David Sewell in a report that accompanies the car. It continued to be entered occasionally by subsequent owners, even racing in several European Grand Prix in 1934 and being successfully hillclimbed by Gordon Lind-Walker before and after World War II. It was acquired by Mrs. Averil Scott-Moncrieff, wife of famous driver/dealer/writer David “ Bunty ” Scott-Moncrieff in 1947. She raced it several times during the 1950 season, achieving one first place in the hillclimb at Bo ’ Ness, one second, three thirds and one fourth.

After one intervening owner, 37290 came into the possession of Fitzroy Somerset, later to inherit the title Lord Raglan. Raglan owned it for several years, using it as a parts car for another Type 37A, chassis 37298, which he had acquired earlier. Finally, in 1967, 37290 was acquired by Lord Raglan ’ s neighbor, Martin Dean, who completed a three-year restoration in 1970. Dean ’ s restoration included building a new engine based on Type 40 parts and 37290 ’ s original supercharger. In 1974, Dean acquired an eight-cylinder Type 43A, selling this Type 37A to pay for it. A year later, the Type 37A was acquired by the famous collector Bob Sutherland via Joel Finn and it remained in Sutherland ’ s care where it was sympathetically maintained and carefully but enthusiastically used until it was acquired from his estate by the present owner.

The engine, driveline and chassis were already in excellent condition, so as part of the purchase agreement, the Type 37A was completely cosmetically freshened in Sutherland ’ s shop. It has been carefully maintained since acquisition in the present owner ’ s own shop and today is in outstanding, sharp condition both cosmetically and mechanically.

Rarely does a record setting Bugatti become available, particularly one with such a clear, well-documented history. The ex-Chris Staniland Bugatti Type 37A continues the history of dedicated, enthusiastic owners like Staniland and Bob Sutherland. It is eligible for the most important, enjoyable and satisfying events throughout the world, where it will be a valued and welcome participant.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle is offered on a Bill of Sale.

Reference Number 5837

as of 1/10/2007

Overview
Car 1927 Bugatti Type 37A Grand Prix Car
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