1928 Bugatti Type 35B, winner of the inaugural, 1929, Monaco GP.

   All Bugatti cars are special, for their beautiful design that exudes sophistication and splendour, their historic importance or their competition success. Of all the many great Bugatti cars there is one model that encapsulates all those facets, the Type 35b, and of the many 35bs that were built there is one in particular which stands out from rest. One that transcends all other Bugatti cars and which today wins awards for its originality. This car was driven by many of the great drivers of the 1920/30s, won races and then was faithfully kept in its original state by all its owners. 

   Bugatti Type 35B, chassis #4914, engine #170T. 

   Built at the Bugatti works in Molsheim, France, during February 1928 chassis ‘4914’ was one of only four straight-8 engined cars built that month. Two Type 35Bs, chassis #s 4913 and 4914, and two Type 35C spec’ cars. As it happens Bugatti only registered one additional Type 35B as a works car that year; chassis # 4925. The histories of these cars have been painstakingly documented by several authors so we can be pretty certain of the achievements and ownerships of the trio of 1928 Type 35B Bugattis. 

   ‘4914’, along with other Type 35 series cars registered to the works team, was then entered for a series of races and driven by such great drivers as Louis Chiron, Robert Benoist and René Dreyfus, not to mention Britain’s most famous Grand Prix driver of the era, William Grover-Williams. Interestingly by March 1929 Bugatti had de-registered and sold all its works Type 35B cars except chassis ‘4914’ leaving this car as the only car of its type available until the first pair, of an eventual seven, 1929 specification T35B cars were ready to race from May 1929.

   Type 35B ‘4914’ took a comfortable win on the 8th July 1928 when the Monegasque star Louis Chiron drove it at the Marne GP held at Reims-Gueux. In 1929 French great René Dreyfus drove ‘4914’ to victory at the Dieppe GP. The car was driven in many other events through the two-year period gaining four other Grand Prix podium finishes for the Bugatti works team. 

   However, the car is best remembered for winning the inaugural Monaco Grand on 14th of April 1929 in the hands of William Charles Frederick Grover. As the only Type 35B available to the works team, and still registered to them, there can be no doubt that ‘4914’ is the car entered for the first edition of a race that would go on to become one of the “Triple-Crown” of motor races. 

   ‘Williams’ works backing had been clear from his number of drives for the Bugatti works team prior to the Monaco race. Further evidence is the team painting ‘4914’ in a dark-medium green (green being the National racing colour of Britain since the late 1800s when Charles Rolls Panhard was Painted green by the Panhard factory when he raced for them), it was the only time the car raced in green.    After taking the historic 1929 Monaco Grand Prix victory ‘4914’ was never again entered by the works team for any event. It is thought the car was taken to the garages of the Bugatti agent in Nice, France, Ernest Friderich, possibly for a post-race overhaul. While there, ‘4914’ was sold to Friderich, for FFr110,000, invoiced on the 22nd of May 1929. 

   Friderich then sold the car on to Baron Albert de Bondeli. The wealthy Baron wished to use ‘4914’ in support of his protégé, René Dreyfus. Dreyfus had just achieved 5th place in the Monaco GP driving a 1.5-litre Bugatti Type 37A, with more competitive machinery who knew what he might achieve. Baron de Bondeli registered ‘4914’ on the 16th of July, 1929, in Nice, whereupon it was given the road registration number ‘9273 BA’. 

   Sadly Baron De Bondeli,was involved in an awful road accident near Avignon resulting in injuries so severe one of his legs had to be amputated. At this point he decided to sell ‘4914’, leaving Dreyfus to fend for himself. René Dreyfus acquired another Type 35B, ch# ‘4944’ and won the 1930 D’Esterel Plage at St Raphael and the 1930 Monaco GP, proving his worth as a racing driver. 

   As for ‘4914’ There is no evidence of any competitive history after 1930. The car was retired from racing to a more sedate life as a road car. 

   Although the history of the car then becomes a little confusing it appears De Bondeli actually did sell ‘4913’ to René Dreyfus on the 23rd of September 1931. Dreyfus didn’t keep the car long though, he sold ‘4914’ on the 17th of February, 1932, to one Aristide Lumachi who lived in Marseille. Lumachi registered the car there which gave it the registration number it still wears today ‘8871 CA4’. Lumachi was a racing driver himself and had been driving another Bugatti Type 35B, a 1929 spec’ car ch#‘4942’, through the 1930-31 seasons. It appears Lumachi had the ‘4914’ painted red and fitted with all the necessary lighting, wide windscreen and weather protection to use ‘4914’ as his personal transport. 

   Bugatti T35B ‘4914’ remained in Lumachi’s ownership until the 1950s. It spent World War Two back with Ernest Friderich, stored in the showrooms of Friderich’s Nice business. After the war Lumachi did enter ‘4914’ in a race again, the 1946 Marseilles GP, but the combination never actually made it to the event. In 1950 the aging car was acquired by a wine merchant who returned the car to a blue colour. ‘4914’ was then then seized as an asset of the wine merchant who had suffered financial problems, the car going into storage awaiting sale at auction. 

   In 1954 an auction resulted in ‘4914’ being sold to Edmond Escudier for the small outlay of FF120. Escudier had no idea of the car’s history, he was a mechanic and a lifelong lover of Bugatti cars. The Escudier family would remain the owners of ‘4914’ for over 50 years, despite repeated attempts by the Schlumpf brothers to purchase the car. It was the attention of the Schlumpfs that prompted others to look more deeply into the history of ‘4914’. The late Hugh Conway became aware of the car and in April 1963 sent a letter to Edmond Escudier telling him about the car’s illustrious past. Escudier remained in love with ‘4914’ despite all the signs of ageing it displayed and he declined to alter or restore the car beyond the consumables that plague any car. 

   In 1965 Louis Chiron drove ‘4914’ at Monaco to open the course officially, this duty was repeated in to open the Monaco Grand Prix Historique meetings in 1997 and in 2000.

1/32nd scale kit.
Restored by Ian.

   Despite the best efforts of the Schlumpf brothers, who would have paid any price and even offered jobs in their firm to swing the sale, Bugatti T35B chassis # 4914 didn’t leave the Escudiers care until 2005 when it sold for £1.8 million at auction. The only museum to be graced with this historic cars presence is the Monte Carlo motor museum founded by the late Prince Rainier of Monaco. 

   ‘4914’ remains in its original condition as “Probably the most original, certainly the most famous and one of the most successful of all Grand Prix Bugattis”, according to David Sewell. Technicians from the paint firm Glasurit have investigated each layer of paint and other experts have gone over the car in detail confirming the originality of the components. Conservation over restoration has been the important factor in life of this car, one of very few pre-war Bugatti type 35Bs to survive. This appreciation for the car resulted in a FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens), Preservation Award at the Chantilly Concours d’Elegance in 2016. 

   Should ‘Williams’ be able to return today he would surely recognize this historic machine. He would also be impressed to see the life-size bronze statue Prince Rainier had commissioned and put on public display in Monte Carlo to immortalise the historic achievements of William Grover-Williams and Bugatti T35B ‘4919’ at he inaugural Monaco GP in 1929. 

1929 Monaco GP 

   1929 saw growing economic troubles lead to the Wall street crash and the depression of the 1930s. The racing competition rules for 1929 were in a state of flux leading to races being held for sports cars and grand prix cars together, organisers ignoring the official racing body’s rules and some events being cancelled altogether for either, or both, of these reasons. 

   Of the three European Grand Épreuves races comprising the 1929 Championship, France, Germany and Spain (the fourth qualifying event was the American classic, the Indy 500) Bugatti won all three. Bugatti also won many of the other major European motor races that season. “Usines Bugatti” (Bugatti Factories) official works drivers Louis Chiron and William Grover-Williams built considerably on their growing reputations during that season. 

   The cancellations of several Grand Prix meetings opened the door for new races to be introduced. Several race meetings were held along the French Mediterranean coast early in 1929, at Antibes, Cannes and then a new race in Monaco. The aim of these mostly French affairs was to promote up and coming French talent. However, with the demise of other events these races were attracting plenty of attention from more of the established teams and racers in 1929. 

   The cramped principality of Monaco, clinging as it does to a steep hillside around a coastal port, isn’t the most ideal place to hold a motor race. However, as a destination for the rich since the mid-19th century it was a place that attracted monied people and more than just the people, cars too. Where there are cars blossom motoring clubs, in the case of Monaco it is the Automobile Club de Monaco, founded in 1890 under the presidency of one Théodore Muller. 

   When wealthy cigarette mogul Alexandre Noghès was elected President of the A.C. de Monaco one of his burning ambitions was to hold a motoring competition in Monte Carlo. His son Antony Noghès helped push the idea resulting in the 1st Rallye Automobile Monaco in January, 1911. As this event developed over the following years Antony Noghès had another brainwave, how about running an international grand prix race around the tight corners, short straights and extreme elevation changes that make up the town. 

   Noghès was not the only one who thought this was a good idea, Prince Louis II of Monaco supported the plan, as did the A.C. de Monaco and the most famous Monégasque driver of the era, Louis Chiron. However, it is not the work of moments to garner the support and authorisations required to carry out such an ambitious plan. After several years planning Antony Noghès idea came to fruition when, at a meeting of the AIACR (Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus) in Paris on the 13th of October, 1928, approval for the Monaco Grand Prix was granted, under the race directorship of Charles Faroux, director of the 24 Heures du Mans for decades. 

   The race would comprise 100 laps of a 3km city centre circuit offering a prize of FF100,000 and a Prince de Monaco gold trophy for the winner. 2nd place garnered FF30,000, 3rd won 20,00, 4th FF15,000 and 5th got FF10,000. As well as these very generous prizes the driver who set the fastest lap would receive FF3,000 and there was a bonus of FF1,000 for the driver leading the race at the end of each ten-lap period. 

   The course was designed around the existing city roads running from the start at the Principality's harbour in full view of the grandstands on Boulevard Albert Premier, turned right at the church of St. Dévote and on up the hill to the Casino square with its flower beds in full bloom. From this highest point of the circuit the track weaved its way down around the narrow hairpin at the train station and continuing with a tight series of corners down to within sight of the sea before plunging right into the darkness of the tunnel. This provided the longest run of almost straight running down through a small chicane and along the harbour side where the left-hand turns took the track around the waters edge of the harbourside to the right-hand turns at the gasworks which brought the track back onto the starting straight. 

   The course provided a serious test for cars as ten tight corners need strong brakes, strong gearboxes and strong responsive engines to accelerate away again. The test for drivers was not just the endurance of 100 tortuous laps but the fact that danger was constantly present everywhere around the circuit. Despite the organisers having the roads repaired and resurfaced at great cost they could not have the Tram lines and curb stones removed. Terracing walls, stone steps and corners, lamp posts and electricity poles all waited for any driver that did mount the curbs. The dangers of driving fast beside any harbour are clear and although the darkness of the tunnel was lit by bright electrical arc lamps the momentary dazzle of light on exiting is a problem no one can fix. To be fair to the organisers they did have as many of the hazards lined with sand bags and/or wood panelling as possible in precaution, though one might wonder if something as unforgiving as bags of sand were really there to protect the property rather than cars and drivers! All side roads were barricaded during the race by hoardings and sandbags and these were strictly attended by officials during the race, so it appears that by the standards of the time the circuit was actually quite safe; which is to say not safe at all. Today it takes hundreds of people six weeks to get the modern circuit ready for motor racing, be it F1 or the historic GP events. 

   As the word spread about the new event some people thought it would be another enthusiast’s car rally as the original ‘Monte’ rally had been, with little actual racing involved. One of Britain’s weekly motoring magazines went as far as to say: 

“That capital little affair the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, which is to run wild through the streets of the Principality, has received twenty-three entries, all of which the promoters appear anxious to start. This affair should be the nearest approach to a Roman chariot race that has been seen of recent years. Presumably the officials consider that the number of runners will be substantially reduced at the end of the first round…”.

   As it happens, they were wrong. Not least as the organisers only invited 20 drivers. Twenty invitations seems most reasonable as todays F1 grid for all races is limited to twenty on safety grounds, regardless of location. 

   The list of participating drivers was closed on the 5th of April and included top drivers and cars from eight European countries (9 if you consider the Belgian Georges Bouriano was an immigrant to Belgium from his native Romania or 10 if you know Jan Bychawski was actually born in Holland to Polish parents, although he himself never thought of himself as anything other than French, having served in the French army during WWI) including the major racing nations of France, Germany and Italy. France had 10 Bugattis, a Delage and a La Licorne to cheer for, Germany a sole Mercedes while Italian honour was in the hands of Alfa Romeos and Maseratis. The drivers’ nationalities widened the mix much further, mostly through the Bugatti mark which featured French, Belgian/Romanian, British and Dutch/Polish drivers in the race. Interestingly, despite there being ten Bugatti cars in the event only one was actually entered by the Bugatti works team and that particular car was driven by an Englishman not a Frenchman. The driver who was expected to be on the list but wasn’t, was Louis Chiron, the Monegasque driver who having support the application to hold a GP in Monaco then chose to race a Delage at Indianapolis instead. Clearly a disappointment for local spectators one of whom, being Prince Louis II, could have taken it quite personally. 

   The debut race meeting around this glamorous street circuit on the Riviera was not actually run to the proper regulations of 1929 and while today grid positions are determined but qualifying times the custom back in 1929 was for the drivers to draw lots, or for the organisers to line the cars up in order of their race numbers. The use of qualifying times didn’t become recognised until 1933 when the first race to use the system was? The Monaco GP. 

   Before the drawing of lots came the official practice sessions but even before that occurred the field was already depleted. Hans Stuck had badly damaged his 3L Austro-Daimler ADM-R at the Antibes GP and never attended the Monaco event as a competitor. Another driver, Jan Bychawski, was involved in a road traffic incident on his way to the meeting and his car was too damaged to take part in practice or the race. 

   Monaco has always had a different practice schedule to other Grand Prix in that free practice and qualifying are held on Thursday and Friday leaving Saturday as a quiet day for the locals and plenty of party and socialising time. From 05:30 to 07:00 on Thursday morning the roads were closed and the circuit opened for first practice, thereafter the roads were handed back to the people, and the trams, of Monaco. At this point the drivers were more interested in learning the circuit and selecting the best gear and final drive ratios than setting fast times. At the close of first practice the general consensus from the drivers regarding this new circuit was a positive one. 

   Friday practice was another early morning session but the incessant rain made the circuit very slippery. René Lamy and Pietro Ghersi were both victims of practice accidents damaging their cars to the point of having to withdraw from the race. Official lap times were taken for the first time but the cars all circulated more slowly than the day before. Not that times mattered due to the grid positions being decided by the luck of the draw, but they did give some indication as to who was on form. Still conspicuous by his absence was "Williams", who had not yet arrived and who had not taken part in any official practice. 

   Saturday should have been a quiet day but a little after 05:00 the sound of a racing car echoed around the city. “Williams” had arrived, and, as it is obligatory to have done some practice laps in order to take part in a Grand Prix, made a few laps to learn the circuit. So, as it stood at this point Sixteen cars from the original list of twenty would take the start. Having drawn the lots for grid positions Philippe Étancelin had his Bugatti T35C on pole, Christian d’Auvergne also driving a Bugatti T35C had second place. “Williams” had 5th position and the early favourite for the race, Rudolph Caracciola in his Mercedes were worryingly positioned back in 14th place on the grid.

The race

   Sunday, the 14th of April, 1929, proved to be dry, warm and sunny under a beautiful blue sky, auguring well for the days event, albeit a non-championship event. This first Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco was all set to race, and to usher in a new magical place for motor racing history to be made. 

   Crowds of people came to see the race, the high slopes of the mountains gave a place for some people to watch from a distance for in the city the spectators were on the roofs, on balconies, hanging out of windows, crowded into grand stands and lining the circuit wherever they could get a view of the track. The sense of anticipation must have been palpable. 

   100 laps of the very tricky 318.0km (197.6mi) clockwise circuit, with its innumerable bends and two hairpins, was expected to tack at least four hours for the winner, much longer for the lesser cars. As such the race had an official race time set as 30 minutes after the winner passed the finish. If you hadn’t completed the hundred laps within that time then you wouldn’t be classified as a finisher. 

   At 13.00hrs cars started to take to the circuit, some to do a warm up others just wanting to get their car into position near the grid. As race director Charles Faroux took a tour of the circuit in Rene Dreyfus' Bugatti T37A. Then, at 13.25hrs the circuit was officially opened for racing by Prince Pierre of Monaco driving a lap of the circuit in his Voisin automobile. 

   On the grid sat 16 cars, three abreast in six rows, awaiting the race director’s flag. At 13:30hrs the starter waved a yellow flag and cars roared away. Lehoux got away well leading Etancelin and Williams, while further back Caracciola, starting from the 5th row, was determined to get his huge white Mercedes SSK up to the front with the leaders. De Rovin struggled to get his Delage off the line and when he could get his engine going was never able to make real headway in the race due to engine problems. The green Bugatti of ‘Williams’ took the lead from Lehoux as the cars raced up hill from Ste Devote, whereupon, ‘Williams’ pulled away and was already looking very settled. Everone did finish the first lap unharmed with Williams leading from Lehoux, Etancelin, de Sterlich, and ‘Philippe’. Caracciola was sixth having muscled his way past ten cars on that first lap. 

   Lap two saw the race take shape. Williams, hotly pursued by Rudi Caracciola. started to pull away from the rest with a gap of around 300 meters between them closing in the German’s favour. For the next four hours the David-and-Goliath duel would enthral the crowd. For others things didn’t go so well. At the waterfront chicane after the tunnel Lehoux skidded his Bugatti into the protective waterside sand bags damaging three of the car’s wheels. He would spend the eleven laps valiantly dashing to and from the pits with wheels and tools before he could get going again. Then, after all his effort he completed only a few more laps before the cars transmission broke and put him out of the race for good. 

   Although the race around the twisting Monte Carlo street circuit was still in the early stages the contest already looked to be a classic. Williams, Caracciola and Bouriano gradually pulled away with ‘Williams’ just 4 sec’s ahead of Caracciola after ten laps, Bouriano's yellow Bugatti around 40 secs further back. Williams was flying round at an average lap time of 2m22.2s during those first ten laps. The pace being set was so swift Williams lapped the 1500 Alfa Romeo driven by Albert Perrot on lap seven! 

   As Marcel Lehoux continued his struggle replacing wheels and Raoul de Rovin’s Delage spluttered on Diego de Sterlich had already pitted, something he would do several times before retiring his Maserati on lap 17. It seems Monaco’s reputation for thinning down the field goes right back to the very first race. Albert Perrot’s Alfa Romeo broke down on the harbour side after an accident. Perrot, who made a brave effort to try and push is car to the pits, ended up retiring on lap 18. With Lehoux also out of the race the field was already down to 13 cars. When Williams’ and his green Bugatti sped past the grandstand with Caracciola nowhere to be seen, there was a brief worry he was out of the race too. Fortune smiled on the Mercedes driver though, he’d experienced a spin at the tight station hairpin but suffered no ill effects to the car. After 20 laps Williams’ nimble handling 2.3ltr supercharged Bugatti T35B was still only 10 seconds ahead of Caracciola's huge and thunderously powerful 7.1ltr supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSK. 

   The next ten laps saw more retirements and the continuing duel between Williams and Caracciola developing to ‘epic’ status. Goffredo Zehender was wandering the pits looking for tools to repair his Maserati, fellow Maserati driver Guglielmo Sandri pulled into the pits to change spark plugs, He would also retire before the 40th lap. Michel Doré collided with a balustrade on lap 23 resulting in him bringing his Corre La Licorne into the pits with a wobbling rear wheel and a flat tire. Astonishingly that was the extent of his damage and he did get going again after the wheel was changed. The narrow streets circuits rarely deliver real wheel to wheel duels but occasionally the Monaco GP does. The last three laps of the 1992 event with Mansell climbing all over the rear of Senna’s car in his efforts to get past do come to mind. So, it seems that just as the historic reputation as a car breaker started in this first race so did the history of epic duels too. Caracciola and Williams were pushing hard and their average lap times were down to 2m20.3s. On lap 30 Caracciola passed Williams for the lead between the tunnel exit and the chicane (Still a popular passing place today!). The pair remained within seconds of each other battling for the lead. On lap 32 ‘Williams’ response produced the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2m15.0s; that’s an average speed of 52.7mph, or 84.8kph, around a circuit very, very, similar to that still raced today. Six laps after Carraciola passed Williams, Williams regained the lead and the pair carried on fighting, never more than a couple of seconds apart. Caracciola’s superhuman efforts even muscling the huge Mercedes to a lap time of 2m16s. 

   Another driver that didn’t make it to the half way point in the race was Christian Dauvergne. He retired his Bugatti on lap 47 with ignition problems. ‘Williams’ called in the pits for fuel on lap 49. Even if everything goes perfectly in a pit stop it still takes time. ‘Williams’ refuelling stop did go smoothly but by the time he could get back onto the track Caracciola had already gone past to take the lead; and, Bouriano’s Bugatti had also gone past into second place. So, at the half way point, ‘Williams’ was back in 3rd place. 

   However, the other two leaders still had to stop and Caracciola was struggling on the sun warmed tarmac with warn tyres, a combination that led him into a skid and the acceptance that he had to pit. It was Carraciola’s pit stop on lap 51 that effectively decided the race. Despite Bouriano putting in consistently smooth laps his pace was never able to worry the other two leaders. 

   Once in the pits the thirsty Mercedes took on board four large churns of fuel to get the car to the end. Caracciola also wanted both rear wheels changing, inevitably taking more time as the jack can only lift one side of the car at a time. Unfortunately, Caracciola had brought his car to rest on some tram lines which led to the jack sliding off one of the tram rails and dropping the car. The pitstop became farcical when the copper hammer used to release and secure the hub knock-offs broke! 

   By the time Carraciola got going again he had lost an extra three minutes over the 1m30s (4m30s total) stop of ‘Williams’ meaning not only had ‘Williams’ gone by but so had the two Bugattis of Bouriano and Philipe de Rothschild too. Putting Caracciola fourth a lap and a quarter down on the leader. 

   ‘Williams’ was soon circulating at average lap times of 2m20.5s again. When Bouriano made his pit stop in 1m20s it wasn’t enough for him to maintain the lead and Williams passed to regain the lead of the race. Soon after that Caracciola was also back into the pits again, but this time for a brisk stop of 25 seconds. Once back on circuit he put all his experience to work and caught up with ‘Philippe’ to regained third place so that after 70 laps the order was: 

   1. Williams    (Bugatti)                 2h45m29s 

   2. Bouriano   (Bugatti)                 2h47m12s 

   3. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)  2h48m05s - 1 lap behind

   4. Philippe     (Bugatti)                2h50m42s - 2 laps behind 

   Thereafter the race became a procession as all the cars were spaced out; that’s not to say the drivers weren’t all pushing themselves, and their cars, to their limits as the only driver out there mildly comfortable and able to drive at his own pace was ‘Williams’. Even then he had his Bugatti circulating at an average lap time of 2m20.8s over the last ten laps. If you want proof of the effort being expended then consider Raoul de Rovin in last place was going so hard in his Delage that he had an accident very similar to Lehoux's; spinning and hitting the sandbags at the chicane which damaged the cars wheels so badly it put the car, and de Rovin, out of the race. 

   After 80 laps there were only three cars with a chance of victory and everyone except Bouriano was lapped, Rigal six times! 

   After 3h56m11.0s William Grover-Williams crossed the line to complete 100 laps, his right fist held aloft in celebration, Charles Faroux waving the finishing flag (in B&W photos it isn’t chequered, but a dark solid colour, so presumably it was a red flag) while pointing to the finish line on the road, and loud cheering and applause from the spectators. 

   ‘Williams’ average speed around the now famous Monaco track was 49.83mph (80.194kph), back in 1929 this was a sensational speed for a race of this type. Bouriano in 2nd place was 1m17.8s behind, followed by Caracciola who finished 3rd 2m22.6s after ‘Williams’. ‘Philippe’, Dreyfus and Etancelin brought their Bugattis home in that order, René Dreyfus winning the separate 1500cc classification. Having been lapped multiple times Lepori, Doré and Rigal were stopped after the 30m period after ‘Williams’ victory signalled the end of the race. Having not completed the full race distance they were not classified. 

        The results

   Pos   No   Driver                        Country        Team                Laps     time/retired         Grid

   1       12    "W Williams"              UK            Bugatti T35B       100       3:56:11.0               5

   2       18   Georges Bouriano      Rom          Bugatti T35C      100         + 1:17.8               8

   3       34    Rudolf Caracciola      D              M-Benz SSK       100         + 2:22.6               15 

   4       14    "Georges Philippe"     F              Bugatti T35C        99          + 1 Lap                6

   5       28     René Dreyfus            F              Bugatti T37A         97         + 3 Laps              12 

   6         4     Philippe Étancelin     F               Bugatti T35C        96         + 4 Laps              1 

   7       30     Mario Lepori              Sw            Bugatti T35C        94         + 6 Laps              13 

   8       32     Michel Dore               F              Corre La Licorne   89         +11 Laps             14 

   9       24     Louis Rigal                F               Alfa Romeo 6C     87         +13 Laps             10

   Ret   22     Raoul de Rovin          F              Delage 15S8         80          Accident              9

   Ret   16     Goffredo Zehender    It              Alfa Romeo 6C     55           Mechanical         7 

   Ret   6       Christian Dauvergne  F              Bugatti T35C        46          Mechanical          2 

   Ret   10    Guglielmo Sandri        It              Maserati 8C          41          Mechanical          4 

   Ret   36     Albert Perrot              F               Alfa Romeo 6C    18         Broken Wheel      16 

   Ret   26   Diego de Sterlich         It               Maserati 8C         16          Mechanical         11 

   Ret   8       Marcel Lehoux          F               Bugatti T35C          7         Transmission        3

   Fastest lap: "Williams" (Bugatti) in 2m15.0s = 8 4.8kph, or 52.7mph. Winner's average speed: 49.83mph, or 80.194kph. 

   Today the Monaco Grand Prix is not only the jewel in Formula One’s crown it is one of the three most famous motor races in the world. Even by 1933 it had achieved a prestigious reputation that put it firmly in the Grapds Prix ranks alongside the French, Italian, Belgium, and Spanish GPs. No one knew back in 1929 that the Monaco Grand Prix would go on to become so important that the Monaco F1 GP, the le Mans 24hrs and the Indy 500 would become the unofficial ‘Triple Crown’ of Motor racing. Winning these three events is so special that to date it has only been done by one driver; 1962 and 1968 F1 world Champion Graham Hill. 

   This first running of the event would not only make Monaco famous in the racing world for creating a wonderfully exciting and memorable race and mark another milestone in Bugatti's rich racing history (Bugatti would gain four more Monaco GP victories), but it immortalised a little-known British racing driver known simply as ‘Williams’ on the racing programmes of the era. 

   Without doubt his victory on that enduringly historic day of the 1929 Monaco GP was William Charles Frederick Grover-Williams most notable racing triumph; but it was not his only one. ‘Williams’ won other Grands Prix and many other races through the 1920s so it is strange that he is so easily overlooked today. This may be in part due to the passing of time, or the great depression which effected so many races of the day, but more likely to his life being tragically cut short having been executed by the Nazis close to the end of world war two; our hero having worked with the SOE and French resistance fighters around Paris. 

   Monaco’s own Prince Rainier was so captivated by the story ‘Williams’ life and the Monaco GP he was delighted to have the famous unrestored Bugatti Type 35B ch# ‘4914’, on loan in his personal museum. He also commissioned François Chevallier to create a life-size bronze statue of the car and driver commemorating the landmark 1929 GP and its winning combination. Unveiled by Prince Rainier in 2000 the wonderful life-size sculpture now stands on the roundabout in Place St. Dévote, Monaco, under the shadow of the famous Monegasque Sainte-Dévote Chapel that names the first corner of the race. 

   If ‘Williams has been lost in the mists of time Monaco stands brightly as a motor racing venue. Not only is there still and annual F1 GP but biannual racing meetings for the Monaco “ePrix” the and Historic Grand Prix of Monaco events are held too; not to forget the Monte Carlo rally of course.

William Grover, "Williams"

   Serious British motor racing enthusiasts are well acquainted with names like Charles Rolls, Henry Segrave, Tim Birkin and Richard Seaman but through the 1920s it wasn’t any of these great names that was winning the most continental Grands Prix for Britain and beating the French and German superstars of the day. 

   The British racing driver you’ve never heard of is William Charles Frederick Grover, AKA “Williams”. His name has all but disappeared in the mists of time and the great myth that there wasn’t any other type of motor racing before F1. “Williams” was not just the best of the British Grand Prix racing drivers in the 1920s he went on to become a war hero too. Scarcely known, even in England, "W. Williams" mysterious story is slowly emerging again, this is what we have been able to piece together about the man who won more pre-WWII Grands Prix than any other British driver. 

   William Charles Frederick Grover was born on the 16th of January, 1903, to his English father, Frederick Grover, and French Mother Marie Hermance Grover (nee Dagan), in Montrouge, Hauts-de-Seine; a suburb of Paris, France. 

   Frederick James Grover was a well-off horse breeder who had been tempted to Paris to assist a Russian Prince in his dream of “breeding the perfect horse”. Grover put down roots in Montrouge where he met and fell in love Hermance. The couple were soon married and would go on to have four children. Elizabeth, born in 1897, William, Alice and Frederic. 

   With two languages routinely spoken at home and time spent in both England and France it is no wonder that William grew up to be bilingually fluent. His life might have been comfortable but the first half of the 20th century endured two globally encompassing wars the like of which had never been seen before. With the advent of World War I, Williams parents decided to send their children to a safer place. William, aged eleven, was off to live with relatives in Hertfordshire, England. 

   At some point during WW1 Frederick Grover established his family in Monte Carlo and William re-joined them there. Pre-war William’s sister Lizzie had been walking out with Richard Wright Whitworth, a British engineer who ran the Paris service depot for Rolls-Royce cars. He also moved to Monte Carlo where Elizabeth and Richard were married. Richard Whitworth is important in our story as it was he who taught the young “Willy” to drive. William had already developed a fascination for motor cars and was clearly mechanically intuitive, so having passed his driving test in Monaco and gained the all-important driving licence, at the tender age of 15, “Willy” became a chauffeur to the rich and famous along the Côte d’Azur. 

   After the first war there was the usual war surplus machinery up for sale and William was able to acquire an ex-US Army Indian motorcycle. With this Motorcycle William would make his initial forays into motor sports. Being considerate and not wanting his mother to know about his dangerous exploits the young man chose to race under the pseudonym “W. Williams”. “Williams” would remain his racing name in all forms of motorsports thereafter. 

   With all the fighting in France now over the Grover family moved back to Paris. William had no interest in furthering his education but continued to chauffeur clients as needed. One person of note was Sir William Orpen. William Orpen was a renowned Irish portrait painter and was appointed as the official artist for the ongoing Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Orpen owned a Rolls-Royce which William drove for him, and his mistress, Yvonne Aupicq. These three must have had a good relationship as when Orpen was away spending time with his wife, in Ireland, he allowed William to use the Rolls-Royce to chauffer other people around in, and to keep any proceeds for himself. By the age of 22 William had earned enough money through his racing and chauffeuring that he could afford to buy a second-hand Hispano-Suiza, a car that was a clear rival to any Rolls-Royce or Mercedes of the day. 

   William and Yvonne Aupicq had a developing friendship and when the relationship between Sir William Orpen and Yvonne Aupicq broke down in 1925 “Willy” and Yvonne’s friendship became much closer. The separation of Orpen and Aupicq must have been quite amicable as Orpen gave her a house in Paris and his open-top Rolls-Royce. 

   Originally released in 1975 the 1/32nd Airfix Bugatti T35B kit is a classic. Airfix kit # 03442-9 was very popular and had a re-release under the same kit # in 1978. Further re-releases in 1988 and 2004 as kit # 02451 started to show the age of the moulds as the kit contents never changed just the box presentation. Flash, sink marks and warping of parts became evident and the reputation of the kit slumped. That said, with love, clever modelling skills and modern products a great little model can still be massaged out of the kit. 

   The actual kit number for this model is unknown as the model was acquired built amongst a bundle of items from "Collectakit" at SMW 2018. It had broken/missing parts and the wheels were glued back on with a soft clear adhesive reminiscent of UHU. Ian stripped down the model as far as it could be done. Some areas were heavily glued and taking all the model’s bits and bobs apart was not really needed anyway. Paint was stripped off with Deluxe Materials ‘Strip Magic’ and Albion Alloys sanding sticks helped smooth the freshly cleaned surfaces. 

   Many parts had to be amended or scratch built, including the gear and handbrake levers, all the cable actuated braking system and of the body securing pins/wires which are moulded onto the body of the Airfix kit and very difficult to paint to a realistic appearance. Also scratch built are the tool and spark plug holders in the cockpit, the fuel pressurising lever on the passenger side of the cockpit and the rear-view mirror. A particularly awkward part to replace was the spare wheel carrier. Ian made the frame from printers litho’ plate and stock rod and tube. The leather straps are masking tape, as are the bonnet straps, with wire fittings. The twisted nature of the straps appears on the car in practice and was added as a point of interest. Presumably Williams was trying to reduce the movement of the straps and thus the risk of the loose straps catching on another car or any street obstacles prevalent on the tight racing circuit. 

   Other additions are the aeroscreen mountings and leather frontage, a stone guard for the radiator and radiator cap water temperature gauge. 

The kit is otherwise original in nature out of respect for both Airfix and the original builder.

   Primed with AlcladII white and black micro filler and primer, the body colour is the Jaguar XJS racing green from Zero Paints. Top coat is Alclad clear; not too shiny so replicate the quickly applied and what wa probably intended to be temporary green colour. All these were applied by airbrush. Detail painting was done with a mix of Humbrol enamels and acrylic paints from Deco-Art, Citadel, Revell, and Tamiya. 

   Decals are from Indycals in the USA. These can be purchased in a number of different scales so the Monogram 1/24th kit or larger diecast models and be made to replicate this important car. Michael at Indycals was a pleasure to deal with too.

   This model was built between April and November, 2020, during the infamous Covid 19 Pandemic. Fortunately, sensible people were able to keep trading through intelligent safe practices so model making supplies did keep flowing despite lock-downs and customs/boarder quarantine delays. 

   Other companies that have released Bugatti models in 1/32nd scale are :- 

Pyro 1/32 # C303 Bugatti Grand Prix race Car. This same kit was also released by Life-Like Hobby Kits/Hales # C-79 Bugatti GP type 59. Pyro also released a 1/32  Bugatti Atalante Coupe as kit # C322, also catalogued as #29. 

Matchbox 1/32nd # PK-302 Bugatti T59 GP, which has also been released by AMT #2021 and Revell 99003 (also listed as 40302 & PK-302). 

Alt Berlin produced a 1/32 kit, #111011, of a Bugatti 1937 Type 57 convertible which is little known, as is the Precisia 1/32 1927 Bugatti type 35 kit. 

SMEC (Scale Model Equipment Company) wooden kit of a 1933 Bugatti type 59 3.3ltr GP car in 1/32nd, kit #2. 

   All of the above kits are increasingly rare but all have their merits in different ways. Be it subject matter or level of detail for their era, they are all worthy additions to any collection.