Bugatti recently paid tribute to its most successful racing car, the Type 35, with an exhibition drive on the streets of the former Targa Florio and Coppa Florio.
Between 1925 and 1929, the Type 35 took all five of Bugatti’s victories on the Targa Florio, establishing a record that’s been equalled only twice and bettered just once (Alfa Romeo, 1930 to 1935). Couple that with four runners-up spots and five 3rd place finishes during the T35’s six-year tenure, and that plants Bugatti squarely as the fifth most successful manufacturer of all time at the Targa Florio.
That really is just tip of the automotive iceberg though. Introduced in 1924, the T35, though almost bafflingly simplistic by contemporary standards, was also phenomenally advanced technologically. The front axle for example was hollow with forged ends, assisting the 750kg kerb weight in the process. The lightweight wheels were, arguably, the first to feature integral drums, while the innovative crankshaft, supported by two roller bearings and three ball bearings, was a feat of engineering imitated by many of Bugatti’s rivals thereafter. By the time its last iteration – the T35B – arrived in 1927, the Type 35 now had a supercharged 2.3-litre eight-cylinder (up from its original 1,991cc guise) capable of up to 130hp. Hardly surprising that, alongside its Targa Florio record, the T35 had added Grand Prix wins in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Morocco, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and, most notably, Monte Carlo, before its retirement in 1931.
On top of that, the Type 35 also took two wins on the original Coppa Florio in 1928 and 1929, courtesy of future Bugatti icon, Alberto Divo. Coupled with the French marque’s win in 1926 (with Bartolomeo Costantini), those results cemented Bugatti as the most successful brand to have competed at the Coppa Florio. Indeed, the brand’s three wins was only replicated by Osella when the event was revived between 1975 and 1981 as part of the World and European Sports Car Championship.
On 9-10-11 October this year, the Coppa Florio will be revived for the first time in close to four decades as part of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook.
Accompanying the Type 35 on its commemorative drive in Sicily was Bugatti’s latest exclusive hypercar, the Divo. Named in honour of Albert Eugène Diwo, who would only change his name to ‘Divo’ aka ‘Star’ during his later years, the hypercar is powered by Bugatti’s 8-litre quad-turbocharged W16, which kicks out a staggering 1,500hp and 1,600Nm (1,180lb ft) of torque, enough to propel the sub-2,000kg hypercar from 0-100kph in just 2.4 seconds and on to a ‘voluntarily restricted’ 380kph top speed. Just 40 examples will be made.
Both the Divo and the Type 35 took to the streets of Cerda, specifically the former pit compound as used by competitors on both the Targa and Coppa Florio during the early 1900s. Former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Andy Wallace was given the enviable distinction behind the T35’s wooden steering wheel.
* Images courtesy of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.