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Bugatti Type 64 in the driving report: Jean Bugatti's legacy

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Bugatti Type 64 in the driving report
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The last oil change was on the Bugatti T yp 64 at mileage 19,597, According to the memo at the front left in the engine compartment, 40 single-grade oil was used. Today the counter shows 22,654 kilometers, basically not a very urgent need for action - however, there is an estimated half a century between the two counter readings, nobody knows that exactly.

One car is supposed to be the Schlumpf every year Collection to be restored

'So we first drained the old lubricant, filled in fresh one - this time 50-grade single-grade oil - and built up oil pressure in the crankshaft and camshafts with a type of hand pump,' explains Brice Chalançon, head of the restoration workshop at the Cité de l'Automobile in Mulhouse, France, also known as the Schlumpf collection.

Around 400 vehicles are in the exhibition in the halls of the former wool spinning mill, a further 200 in the surrounding brick buildings - almost all of them in wonderful original condition, but few of them really ready to drive. 'Every year we want to carefully prepare a few cars from the collection so that we can present them to the public in action,' says Emmanuel Bacquet, the director of the state museum.

The Bugatti Type 64 is at the top of his List, after all, the test vehicle is the last car that Ettore's gifted eldest son Jean created before his death.

Jean Bugatti was born as Gianoberto Carlo Rembrandt

Monsieur Jean, like him from who at times was named almost 1,200 employees in Molsheim, was actually called Gianoberto Carlo Rembrandt and was born in Mülheim near Cologne in 1909, where his father Ettore worked for the Deutz company. A year later, however, the family moved to Alsace, France, where Ettore Bugatti built his own creations from then on, and Gianoberto became Jean.

The inquisitive Jean Bugatti spent his youth in the factory . When he was just under 20, he persuaded his father to follow the example of the American manufacturer Miller and to plant two overhead camshafts on the Bugatti engines; three years later he takes overDevelopment of the legendary Type 57. When Ettore Bugatti was mainly concerned with the banks and his dream of the railcar in the late thirties, Monsieur Jean steered the fortunes of Automobiles Bugatti and was also responsible for the victories at Le Mans in 1937 and 1939.

Tragic accident marks the beginning of the end of the Bugatti brand

Work on the Bugatti Type 64, which was supposed to replace the 57, began as early as 1938. The riveted aluminum box frame in particular is new -Alloy Dural and the long-stroke 4.4-liter in-line eight-cylinder, whose two overhead camshafts are now driven by a duplex chain and no longer via spur gears. Power is transmitted by an electromagnetic Cotal gearbox, while the four-seater, which weighs 185 hp, weighs 1,265 kilograms and has a top speed of 180 km /h, is decelerated by hydraulic drum brakes from Lockheed.

The presentation of the elegant two-door Bugatti Type 64 with the pointed radiator of the 57 is delayed, not least because of the company's financial difficulties and the looming war. Then came August 11, 1939: Jean Bugatti wanted to test the 57C tank for the La Baule Grand Prix on the road between Duttlenheim and Entzheim, had to avoid a careless cyclist and hit a tree head-on at well over 200 km /h.

The exploding gas tank sets the tree and a nearby mill on fire, Monsieur Jean is thrown out of the racing car and is instantly dead. Ettore Bugatti will never recover from this tragedy and dies of the consequences in August 1947 a stroke.

Hispano-Suiza takes over Bugatti

Jeans' far younger brother Roland, born in 1922, now runs the business in Molsheim, but without any real fortune: After a long illness, Hispano-Suiza takes over the Bugatti factory in 1963 and immediately ceases production.

The Alsatian Schlumpf brothers, who by then have already built up a spectacular Bugatti collection (and have ruined themselves so much that their collection was confiscated by the French state in 1976 and made available to the public in 1982), all vehicles, test vehicles and parts still in the factory - including the Bugatti Type 64.

Patina of the Bugatti Type 64 should be preserved

' After Jean's death and in the first post-war years, the Bugatti Type 64 served as a kind of company car in which guests were chauffeured and for example, they were picked up from the airport, 'says Richard Keller, curator of the Cité de l'Automobile. It is unclear when the Bugatti Type 64 was finally parked, and it is also unclear whether there is another color under the night black paint. 'We're just leavingAnalyze samples, 'says Keller. The Bugatti should not be restored, after all, it is important to preserve the unique patina of the Grand Turisme.

In fact, the Bugatti Type 64 exudes an atmosphere that even die-hard fans more classic Forcing automobiles to their knees on direct contact and prompting them to be devoutly silent. The classy shape of the body with the teardrop-shaped wheel covers, the long tail with the small, double rear window and the fin reminiscent of the Atlantic on the roof is simply beautiful. The worn The leather of the four seats in the Bugatti Type 64, the large steering wheel with the missing horn button and the generously but not ostentatiously distributed wood in the interior look like the last remnants of a vanished civilization.

During the first test run, the eight-cylinder impresses with its smoothness

Anyone who takes a seat in the Bugatti Type 64 should feel good Wear a wool sweater and a rectangular Reverso. When it comes to technology, however, romantic enthusiasm is out of place, which is why Brice Chalançon and his two helpers Guy Brodbeck and Claude König first of all swapped the four crumbling original tires for new material. Then the four gigantic drum brakes received new brake cylinders and new linings. 'In addition to the engine oil, we also changed the transmission and rear axle gear oil on the Bugatti Type 64, we also revised the oil and water pump drive, installed a new ignition system and cleaned the Weber carburetor,' Brice Chalançon lists.

Then the moment of truth follows in the workshop in Mulhouse: the first test run of the Bugatti Type 64 after several decades. Build up oil pressure, turn the engine by hand, check that everything works and nothing leaks, one press on the starter and - voilà: the mighty eight-cylinder in-line engine is running. Amazingly quiet by the way, almost in a whisper. The Bugatti Type 64 engine coughs a few times through the flame screen of the Weber carburettor on the side, then goes into a stable idle state with a few hundred revolutions.

Electromagnetic gearbox with soft gear changes

For a test drive, it goes in the van on a closed country road north of Mulhouse, Guy Brodbeck tries briefly whether the Cotal gearbox of the Bugatti Type 64 shifts, then Brice asks me behind the steering wheel on the right. The in-line eight-cylinder reacts sensitively to the smallest gas commands and turns up in a flash, but hardly raises its voice acoustically.

With a small lever between the front seats of the Bugatti Type 64, the forward gear is mechanically engaged when the clutch is depressed, then I use my index finger to press the few centimeters long gearshift lever on the right of the steering wheel to 1. How a modern car sets the Bugatti Type 64Easily dosed in motion, to further upshift you just take a short break from the accelerator, snap into the next of the four gears and step back on the accelerator. Overall, the electromagnetic transmission of the Bugatti Type 64 shifts more smoothly than many modern automatic transmissions - not to mention a number of drivers.

The impression of a far more modern automobile than the 1939 model continues with the engine: the eight-cylinder of the Bugatti Type 64 goes to work with this sovereign, relaxed manner, which is characteristic of large-volume naturally aspirated engines, and lets the driver cover the distance in a relaxed manner. If necessary, we could now drive to Paris at 130 km /h and would probably arrive almost as rested as in a modern car.

Trample rigid axle and lubricant quality

Only the trampling front rigid axle is reminiscent of the year of construction of the Bugatti Type 64, which is why Jean Bugatti wanted to swap the design for independent suspension on the 57. Unfortunately, his father was of the opinion that only a Bugatti with the once famous, hollow-bored Bugatti axle was a worthy car from Molsheim - a hostility towards progress that Brother Roland later retained even in the unfortunate GP Bugatti 251 from 1955.

The brakes are of course also state-of-the-art. But the delay is decent, overall the Bugatti Type 64 makes an extremely light-footed impression. You don't want to get out of this time machine anymore and don't like leaving the car in the halls in Mulhouse. Fortunately, Emmanuel Bacquet wants to present the Bugatti Type 64 at several events. Then there are several more to the twelve kilometers I have driven - there is still time until the next oil change. 'By the way, we had the old lubricant from the engine analyzed,' says Brice Chalançon: 'In theory, it would still have been usable.'


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