I got a text recently from one John Adams in El Cajon near San Diego, inviting me to come help shove a rebuilt engine back into a chassis. Now, anyone who has received an invite to an engine-install party knows that it can go one of several ways. The car owner can be fully prepped and the engine is ready to slide in, as if doused in Vaseline. Or there are still six jobs undone, including figuring out why the crank pulley has half an inch of play, and one penlight to be shared as darkness descends on an open driveway.
John was ready, and several neighbors pulled up lawn chairs to watch the proceedings. After all, it’s not every day that you get to witness a 3.3-liter Bugatti straight-eight being shoved back into one of the three Bugatti Type 64 chassis known to exist in the world. And the day’s agenda not only included the shoving; gas would be burned if all went well.
Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
If someone invites me to work on a real Bugatti, even if it's to be the guy who gets to open up an artery for the blood sacrifice, that is often needed during a car project, I'm in!
What a wonderful story. Thanks!
My mentor in professional location-live analog-tape recording of classical music was David Hancock. This was 40 years ago in NYC. I was stunned when I first visited his editing and mastering room. On the wall was a huge, framed-under-glass Bugatti engine cross-sectional blueprint. Unquestionably genuine. Of course, as an automotive enthusiast, I had to ask him about it.
David told me that he had served in WWII in the liberation of France, and that when he was about to be sent back Stateside, he bought a Bugatti Type 44 touring car, and had it shipped home. He then ruefully explained that he had spent a lot of time and money proving that it is not possible to have a Bugatti Type 44 as the only automobile for a young and growing family. I gathered that their parking situation was limited to one car.
To discourage theft, David would take the license plates inside with him. Some outraged Bugattophile took a photo and sent it in the the Letters section of Road & Track magazine. Somehow, they tracked down David (or, it was all a setup), and he responded with great dry humor. I believe that that R&T episode was in the 1950s or early 1960s.
At some point, David sold the car, I am sure for peanuts. But during his ownership, he would correspond with the factory, and at one point, they sent him a blueprint.
Parkinson's put an end to David's recording career. David died in 2001.
He did keep track of "his" Type 44, and in one of our last conversations, he said that it had recently sold for an eye-watering price. I wonder where it is now.
David's Bugatti was actually a T46 which spent any years in the Dr. Peter Williamson collection. A beautiful Freestone & Webb 4-door saloon, it was sold to Europe when the Williamson collection was dispersed.
Be still my heart....I'm still trying to find my dad's Type 40 convertible and his Type 44 sedan bought in the late 50's for a song in France and sold in 1968-69 to someone?? I'm currently building a Type 32 tank (body only) replica. I learned how gearboxes worked by taking the top off of the type 40 box (when dad wasn't around- I was 10) and the same with carbs. Memories....
FWIW, I forwarded a link to this article and the text of my comment to two gentlemen who are officers in the American Bugatti club. I asked them to look in their archives--I recall that I had the impression that the sales result David mentioned to me was an auction result, but I have no idea where. David's Bugatti could have ended up in France. BTW, for reasons of space I neglected to note that David Hancock went to the Juilliard School on the GI Bill, and had a respectable career as a self-recorded recording artist, classical piano. His Franck violin sonata with David Nadien, who was another "musician's musician," is still held in high esteem.