1928 Bugatti Type 44 Coupé Fiacre, coachwork by Gangloff. Designed by Jean Bugatti.
Vintage & Prestige is extremely proud to offer this significant Bugatti Type 44 Coupé with incredibly handsome Fiacre body by Gangloff, Colmar.
The design is attributed to Jean Bugatti and very similar to the first Weyman body on the Prototype Bugatti Type 41 Royale, the destroyed Coach Coupé with a large Hermés trunk in the back. It was also painted yellow.
The Type 44 Coupé Fiacre is therefore quiete rightly called la vrai Petite Royale.
Subject to current knowledge only two cars exist in this body style.
The sister car currently residing in the Mullin Collection in California.
As to the history of the car, it is known that it was delivered new to Gaston Docime in Paris in 1929. It spent the war in hiding around the Paris area.
From 1965 to 1977 it belonged to well-respected Bugatti collector Uwe Hucke, who in enthusiasts circles was called Herr Bugatti because of his intense marque knowledge of all things Bugatti. He was best known for his many discoveries during a time when the Schlumpf brothers bought-up almost anything they could lay their hands on. The late Seventies were indeed a very competitive era in that sense for any Bugatti collector and Uwe Hucke belonged to the very early ones and was personally known by the author.
Uwe Hucke was also famous for his meticulous research of the history of the cars he encountered and luckily he decided to keep the original Fiacre body aside which was in very bad shape and in need of a total rebuild. He could not finish the restoration.
In 1977 the Type 44 went to well-known Bugatti expert and racer Helmut Schellenberg, active as a Bugatti racing driver since the mid 1930s. Schellenberg was best known for racing his Type 35B in a fast and furious manner. A real Bugattiste to the core.
Schellenberg had the Type 44 Fiacre totally dismantled and nut&bolt restored to Pebble Beach standard. He overhauled all technical parts in an extremely devoted manner to originality over a period of over 10 years. Luckily he decided to renew the Fiacre body by Gangloff, not exchanging it with a more sporting body type. The body was completely rebuilt to immense cost and put back into as new condition. The same applied to engine, gearbox, front and rear axle, radiator, transmission, brakes and all ancillaries.
The result produced one of the most impressive Bugatti Type 44 in existence. Technically and visually it must be one of the finest Bugatti around.
After Schellenberg’s death the car changed hands for the third time and the current owner has owned chassis 441141 since 2005. Coming from an enthusiasts family background he sincerely appreciates its historical value, having owned many early Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Mercedes 300 SL. By him chassis 441141 has always been treated as a monument to the extraordinary talents of Jean Bugatti.
The Bugatti was therefore never really used as a car on the road or for events. Apart from yearly maintenance drives or some small sorties in summer it is indeed fresh to the market and can be shown first time at all major events. A fact not to be underestimated should you wish to do Pebble Beach, Villa d‘Este, Hampton Court or Chantilly to name just a few possibilities.
Today the car has old-style German vehicle documents still issued to Mr. Schellenberg.
Included is the ASC vehicle passport (Allgemeiner Schnauferl Club) from 1981 and various other documents.
The car was rarely driven since restoration and presents incredibly well. Its a minter as we would say in collectors circles.
No other car represents the avant-garde period of the late 1920s better than this particular Jean Bugatti design.
A good Type 44 is rarely on offer and we are very happy to be able to present this precious opportunity to you today.
History in general of the Type 44
In October 1927, Bugatti presented a new 3-ltr. SOHC eight-cylinder at the Paris Motor Show. Each of the 3 valves/cylinder (2 intake and 1 exhaust) was operated by an overhead camshaft, which was driven by a king shaft positioned centrally between the two cylinder blocks. The new development was characterized by more reliable pressure oil lubrication and a crankshaft with 9 plain bearings, which ran more quietly than the previously used roller bearings.
The Type 44 was produced until 1931 and became one of the most successful Bugattis.
The "Automotor Journal" 1928 wrote:
"This new 3-liter, which easily runs 130 km/h with the gas pedal not fully depressed, is a splendid machine and a real touring car. The acceleration of the car and the amazing elasticity of the engine are remarkable. In many details, this design is far ahead of vehicles from other companies. This Bugatti is clearly sporty, yet it is smooth and pleasant, and the elasticity of its engine is particularly noteworthy. The Bugatti is as flawless as it is fast. It is one of the five best, most interesting, most enjoyable, most reliable, and altogether most pleasing cars to buy in London at the moment."
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For the technically minded Bugatti enthusiast here some insight views:
The Type 44 featured a new 3-valve SOHC engine derived from the Type 43. The 4-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel leaf suspension and 4-wheel drum brakes, chassis and suspension were from the Types 38, 40 and 43. The handsome front axle was controlled by semi-elliptic leaf springs, the rear by inverted quarter-elliptic springs. New adjustable shock absorbers provided smooth damping and ride control. The four-wheel brakes were cable-operated by a DeWandre-Repusseau servo and functioned extremely effective. The drivetrain consisted of a wet multi-plate clutch and a four-speed central change gearbox with a spiral bevel gear differential. Ettore Bugatti remained faithful to his single camshaft design and only adopted the double overhead camshaft method of valve operation on the 1930 Type 50 after being urged to do so by his eldest son, Jean. The Type 44's twin-block engine, with three valves per cylinder and one spark plug, had a displacement of 2,991 cc and produced about 80 hp.
Most importantly, the engine received a completely new crankshaft for the eight cylinders, making it one of the most solid and reliable crankshafts Bugatti ever built. The Type 44 featured a finely tuned leaf-spring suspension, large effective drum brakes, friction dampers adjustable by hand from the dashboard, and was to become a favorite of coachbuilders such as Weymann, Kellner, Gangloff, James Young, and Bugatti himself.