1928 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport
Chassis number: 40717
•Delivered new in France
•Known ownership history
•Unmolested and outstandingly original
•New cylinder block
•Recorded in The Bugatti Register, Netherlands-Belgium, 2005
Introduced in 1926, the Type 40 Bugatti succeeded the Brescia types, being built on a longer wheelbase and equipped with a more powerful engine. Virtually identical to that used in the Type 37 Grand Prix car, the latter was a four-cylinder unit displacing 1,496cc, which incorporated an all-plain-bearing bottom end with five mains. A single overhead camshaft operated three valves per cylinder (two inlets, one exhaust) and the Type 40's 45bhp or thereabouts maximum power output was transmitted to the rear wheels via a separate four-speed gearbox. An estimated total of 787 Type 40s had been made when production ceased in May 1931, with a further 32 Type 40As completed with the 1,627cc engine by the end of that year. It is estimated that fewer than 200 survive today.
Unquestionably, this particular Type 40's most unusual attribute is its outstanding originality: the product of its unusual history. Completed at Molsheim in November 1928, chassis number '40717' was not delivered until 4th August 1930 when it was despatched to the Bugatti agent in Chambéry, Garage Vasseur, which used the car on trade plates but did not register it. From the factory records, its seems '40717' was originally intended for another customer who may have cancelled the order.
In July 1933, Garage Vasseur sold the Bugatti to its first private owner, Charles Rattier of Saint-Etienne, passing to another member of the family, a Monsieur Steinbach, on his 20th birthday in March 1966. The car was repainted during Mr Steinbach's ownership, although the wheels were left untouched. In June 1999, Mr Steinbach sold '40717' to collector Bruno Vendiesse, who kept it until November 2002. The Bugatti has enjoyed single family ownership since then.
With the help of specialists from the Bugatti Club Netherlands, the current owner returned the Bugatti good mechanical and driving condition, and after inspection by the Dutch RDW, the car received its current registration, 'AL-70-24', on 3rd June 2004.
It is obvious that this Bugatti has never been abused or suffered any accident damage, being subjected only to normal wear and tear and always stored carefully. Importantly, none of the owners has ever felt inclined to update the Bugatti at any time. As a result, it has remained almost entirely original and is regarded as an accurate guide for anyone wishing to restore a Type 40 to original specification.
The only significant changes concern the engine, which in 2006 was fitted with a new cylinder block manufactured by Ivan Dutton Ltd, while at the same time new connecting rods were installed. This new block incorporates hardened valve seats, making it compatible with unleaded fuel. (A crack between two valve seats in the original block had been deemed difficult to repair; the original block is available and may be repairable with new techniques in the future). The original exhaust likewise was not repairable and was replaced in 2005 with a new one (original with car).
All components of the engine, except the cylinder block and exhaust, are still as the car left the Bugatti factory. This also applies to the original wet clutch, as well as to the original Autovac tank. The latter is currently not operational (the pipes are disconnected but present), the Zenith carburettor being fed by an electric fuel pump, with a switch under the dashboard. All other changes are relatively minor, necessitated by new safety requirements and/or in the interests of reliability.
Other noteworthy original features include the collapsible hood, which is made of canvas fabric and is in almost perfect condition, with only normal to moderate wear, while the two front seats, the removable rear seat, and the side panels are trimmed in black leather and are in original and good condition, with only localised moderate wear. Also present is the original leather tool roll with some original keys, the original jack and wheel wrench, a new wheel-puller, and a brass hammer for the wheel nuts.
Offered with a history file containing copies of original documentation, '40717' represents an exciting opportunity to acquire an exceptional Type 40 Bugatti, carefully conserved in outstandingly original condition and with known provenance.
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