The 1934 Bugatti Type 59 is one of those cars that makes a person want to grow a handlebar mustache, put on a checkered sport jacket with some of those “old school” racing goggles and go for a brisk ride through the countryside on a narrow road. This automotive gem of yesteryear would be the flagship in a car collector’s fleet that had an affinity for steampunk style with all of its exposed headers, exhaust, and steering rods.
The model I am using is the Bburago 1 18 diecast model painted in blue. I have one admission about my model. You will notice that the spare tire is missing that is normally on the left side of the car. Unfortunately the tire was broken off in an accident. However, this is part of my “Hands On” collection so the show must go on. The detail is good for the given price range ($30-$50). I particularly like the cockpit gauges on this model. The engine, compartment, and body all have intricate detail. “And Hey”, its made in Italy.
Components of the Type 59
The 59 evolved from the Type 35 and the Type 51 series. It was built to race as a two seater with an enlarged 3.3 L (3257 cc/198 in³) version of the straight eight cylinder that sat in a modified Type 54 chassis. The motor had a supercharger fed by two Zenith carburetors (You can see these on the Bburago model). Bugatti claimed the engine produced 250 horsepower. The car had a four speed manual gearbox and the shifter was external. Brakes were put on all four wheels operated by cable. The Fuel Tank was a single tank with twin fillers (hence the cool looking gas caps) stored in the back covered by the stylish riveted pointed tail. The auto had an exhaust manifold feeding into a single large bore tail pipe, giving a deep sound. One of the well remembered components of this car was the wire spoked wheels. They were thought to give the race car more control and to ease the burden of cooling the brakes.
The Type 59 won the De Belgique and the d’Algiers Grand Prix in 1934. Overall the Type 59 was not a very successful race car. It has been said that the car became obsolete by the time it was perfected. The car was supposed to be perfected for Grand Prix racing in 1932 but Ettore Bugatti was unable to get it done as planned.
Most vintage auto enthusiasts consider the Type 59 to be the best looking racing car by Ettore Bugatti with its slender appearance and stylish wheels. The Bugatti folks at the time did not think much of the Bugatti as a race car but did think the car had a beautiful design. I think most of us can agree that it is a good looking car. Only six or maybe seven were ever made originally. A car’s look can be measured by the number of replicas made after it’s production is over. If you type in The Bugatti Type 59 replicas into Google, I think you will see just how good looking the Type 59 really is.
For more about the Type 59: