The Bugatti Type 59, was designed in 1933 but didn’t make its debut until late in 1933 season. There is no doubting Ettore Bugatti was a great designer but his stubborn conservatism proved a handicap to his cars. Built to conform to the new '750 kg' regulations of 1934 the T59 looked rather old fashioned compared to the new German machines. While the elegance of the familiar look remained alluring the use of beam axles and cable operated drum brakes was out of step with the opposition’s use of independent suspension and hydraulic brakes. Bugatti also insisted in keeping a two seat option but in a way having the driver’s seat off-set to the right compensated for the fact that the prop’-shaft still ran down the centre of the car. Fitted separately between the engine and rear-axle was a four-speed gearbox with external gear lever.

   The straight-8 engine appeared little more than a bored out T54 unit but it was a new design intended to power not only the new T59 but also the T57 Grand Touring car. Initially run in 2.8ltr form it was soon enlarged to 3.3ltr (3257cc). It featured 2valves per cylinder operated by dual over head cam’s, 6 plain bearings on the crankshaft instead of the earlier roller bearings and the GP version would also dry-sump lubrication. The two Zenith carburettors fed a Roots-type supercharger putting 250hp on demand.

   The steel ladder chassis from the T54 was drilled to reduce weight and with the engine set much lower in the frame the car had a lower centre of gravity for better cornering. These characteristics were assisted by the rigid engine mounting providing strength and stability while the rear of the chassis remained intentionally flexible to aid handling. Suspension ws by live axel with semi-elliptical springs at the front and inverted quater-elliptical springs at the rear. The hollow front axle allowed a small amount of independent front suspension due to being split in the centre and joined by a collar.

   Although the T59 had a familiar looking all-aluminium bodywork, from the horse-shoe grille to pointed tail, of the earlier GP Bugatti’s it was noticeably lower, largely due to the underslung rear suspension and the engines dry-sump.  

   A testament to Bugatti's design ability is the fact that his design tweaks kept these 'old fashioned' cars relatively competative. Ideas like  the beautiful piano wire wheels. The majority of the torque load went through the rim and an aluminium back plate which were reinforced by the brake drum. The wheel rim engaged directly to the brake drum by a system of teeth on the outer aspect of the drum and the inner aspect of the wheel rim. The spokes helped handle the lateral cornering loads; as a combined unit the wheels were strong and light.

   Only 6 were made as hoped for sales did not materialise. The car was outclassed by far superior German technology and by Alfa Romeo’s P3 so little success came Bugatti’s way. During 1934 Rene Dreyfus and Antonio Brivio drove T59's to first and second positions in the Belgian GP, although the German entries were withdrawn and the Alfa’s both failed to finish; Jean-Pierre Wimille won the minor Algiers GP.

   Our car is modelled after the car which Jean-Pierre Wimille drove in the 1934 Monaco GP, he retired on lap 18 with brake problems. The model is running on standard road wheels rather than the signature piano wire wheels.

   An Authentic T59 is worth an estimated £2.5 Million in 2012.  

                                                                      1/18th scale kit.

                                                                          Built by Ian.

   Ian was given this model in the early 1990s an set about giving it a make over. While Bburago kits may seem simple and toy like they can be made into nice models. The pre-painted body was stained and touched up to look race worn and the plain plastic parts were all mainted to. Details like the brake cables were added the and the moulded on details carefully picked out. All the painting was done with Humbrol enamels and citadel acrylics paints.

   The wheels are as in the kit which is to say not changed to the signature piano wire wheels. Ian was not confident to tackle changing these wheels, and, in the days before easy internet access didn't have enough information to do it either. Perhaps with todays knowledge and skills he might take on the job.