GRR

£600k could buy you a land speed record-holder's Bugatti

13th July 2017
Bob Murray

The best way to mark 110 years of Brooklands? That would have been the incredible line-up of cars for the special tribute at this year’s Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard. The second best way? Snap up a real Brooklands racer like this one…

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It’s a Bugatti Type 37, as raced at the world’s first purpose-built circuit 90 years ago this year. And it could be in your garage next week after it crosses the block at the Coys auction at Blenheim Palace on Saturday, July 15th.

The 1926 T37 doesn’t just have a period racing history, at Shelsley Walsh as well as Brooklands, but incredibly it has had just two owners since 1940, one of them for 57 years.

The car was supplied new to Malcolm Campbell who apart from the small matter of being world land speed record holder was also the London Bugatti agent. It was one of three T37s he took delivery of in 1926.

The T37’s strength then as now was its 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, said to be more reliable than the Type 35’s eight-cylinder engine but offering similar performance. The T37 was a winner on circuits and in hillclimbs, and judged the ideal car for those who sought a machine that could be driven to a circuit, raced competitively, and then driven home straight afterwards.

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The four-pot motor’s 60bhp provided a 95mph top speed and the car had excellent brakes. Such an all-round performance, along with its iconic design, made it one of Bugatti’s biggest successes, something reflected today in its standing as a highly usable historic racer and practical car for road rallies, with its spacious two-seat cabin.

This car has done plenty of racing and rallying. Its long-time owner, Dudley Gahagan of the well-known classic restoration business Rees Brothers of Aldershot, campaigned the car over the decades at Prescott, Goodwood, the Brighton Speed Trials and at Silverstone on over 20 occasions from 1949 through to 1992.

The T37 has been used sparingly since restoration was completed in 2008. More recently it has been given a rebuilt engine (based on a replacement block) but still has its original chassis, gearbox, and both front and rear axles.

The archetypal lightweight, simple and exquisitely made automotive work of Bugatti art, the T37 comes with a presale estimate of £400-600,000.

  • Bugatti

  • Type 37

  • malcolm campbell

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