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At the core of the Type 40 was the 1.5 litre four cylinder engine from the Type 37, with its top acting camshaft, three valves per cylinder and two Weber carburetors. The engine was tweaked by reducing the compression ratio, which substantially increased reliability despite the declared performance of 50hp. The engine had its five-seat crankshaft initially immersed in oil, but this was later replaced with a more suitable pressurised lubrication system.
The Bugatti Type 40 was fitted with a centrally operated four-speed gearbox, and its suspension was provided by leaf springs—with Hartford type inertia dampers at both front and rear. Both axles were also fitted with drum brakes to give the car ample stopping power.
Measuring 2550mm in length, the Type 40’s relatively short chassis was purposely designed to be easily adaptable to the varying work of artisan coachbuilders. But most of the Type 40s which came out of the Bugatti factory were fitted with the four-seat coupé body
From May 1926 to March 1931, 780 Type 40s were built in Molsheim, equipped from the onset with a 1627cc four cylinder engine. The increase in displacement was achieved by adapting the eight cylinder engine block of the Type 49, which had a 72mm bore. Unlike the donor model, the Type 40A engines dispensed with the double ignition setup in favour of a single spark plug per cylinder.
With its dark blue lacquered Grand Sport body, brown interior and black canvas hood, the Bugatti Type 40 on display in the Museu do Caramulo is a beautiful example of the French brand’s four-cylinder model. It is also one of the most original, being virtually untouched.
Bugatti built some Type 40’s in chassis only, a strategy which allowed them to be fitted with different bodywork such as this Grand Sport, with its 2 + 2 seats and a single passenger-side door.
The car was mechanically very robust, as was demonstrated by the amazing feat performed by Frederico Loiseau, who made it from Paris to Côte d’Ivoire and back to Paris again. He drove across the mighty Sahara, covering 14,500 km in just 33 days. The Bugatti type 40 became the most desirable sports car in its day and was coveted by the automobile world and youth alike.