Interestingly, though the Bugatti Type 35 featured extraordinary lines, it was still considered modest compared to those of the short-lived Type 32, with its unusual wheel-enveloping sculpture. The elegance of the 35 was in the way the bonnet silhouette flowed from the radiator grille in the shape of a horseshoe, extending to a tapered rear end where the fuel tank sat. The Type 35 design had many an exceptional but quiet detail, such as its aluminum wheels—an absolute novelty at a time when the same material was only commonly used for bodywork. And unseen under that body was the new chassis, which incorporated curved stringers that provided strength and rigidity for the lightweight body.
A more subtle yet another ingenious detail on the Type 35 was its one-piece front axle, which very few noticed. Being hollow in the centre whilst solid at the ends, the axle design called for all the artistry and technology the foundry could muster.
The Type 35’s four-speed gearbox was derived from Bugatti’s own Brescia Type 22, and its cable-actuated brakes were drummed on all four wheels. As for the engine, it was an eight-cylinder in-line unit, originally with two litres of capacity, producing around 90 horsepower.
The first evolutions of the Type 35 were single-seaters which were dubbed the Type 36’s, and five voiturettes which were fitted with 1500cc engines. The voiturettes formed the basis of the Type 35A Demi Course and Tecla variants which were designed by Bugatti for everyday use.
To make the Grand Prix version more competitive, Ettore Bugatti decided to fit a supercharger and settled on the English designed Roots compressor as his preferred choice. That supercharged version gave rise to the Type 35C in 1926. But the desire for performance did not stop there, because, in that same year, Bugatti managed to gain another 300cc by increasing the engine stroke from 88 mm to 100 mm. That modification was named the 35T and it was specifically to chase honours in the 1926 Targa Florio. Later on, when a larger compressor became available, the 35TC, or, as it became better known, the 35B appeared.
A Portuguese Bugatti
The Type 35B, on display in the Museu do Caramulo has been Portuguese from birth. Commissioned by Henrique Leherfeld, a Bugatti racer, it was Christened with chassis number 4952 and engine 209 TC. The car was delivered to Leherfeld in July of 1930 and on August 4, with him at the wheel, it won the Quilómetro do Setúbal. Continuing with a win at the 1930 Quilómetro do Mindelo with the dizzying average speed of 194 km/h, the car remained at the top echelons of Portuguese competition for a further five years.
In 1931, Lehefeld took part in the Rampa da Rebassada in Barcelona where he finished third and followed up with a fifth-place finish in the Grand Prix de la Baule in France. Then in 1933, always with Henrique Leherfeld, the car achieved two second places at the Campo Grande Circuit and the Boavista Circuit, also winning the October Cabo da Roca Hillclimb in the same year.
By July of 1934, António Guedes Herédia had convinced Leherfeld to lend him the 35B for a race at the Vila Real Circuit. And in a demonstration of immense class and virtuosity at the wheel, Herédia completely demolished the competition. The following year, Leherfeld took his Bugatti to Brazil, competing at the Circuito da Gávea and did exceptionally well to finish in second place. He returned to Brazil in 1936 but was less successful.
A sixth-place finish in the 1937 Vila Real race was the last outing for this symbolic Bugatti, which in 1956, was acquired by João de Lacerda to become part of the Museu do Caramulo’s automobile collection. Given the pedigree of this Bugatti and also being one of the most original in the world, the museum does not prevent it from being used frequently in national and international demonstrations.
This model won the Monaco Grand Prix twice in 1929 and 1930, and the Targa Florio more than once in 1928 and 1929, having finished in the top ten places between 1928 and 1930.
In 1931 the type 35 morphed into the Bugatti Type 51, which although a little more powerful was no more than an evolved version of the illustrious 35B.