The Bugatti Type 59 is famed as the most beautiful of all Bugatti’s motorsport creations and one of the best-looking racing cars of all time. Unlike many cars of its time, the Type 59 opted for a shape with the width of a two-seater so the driver could sit low next to the gearbox – Ettore Bugatti didn’t like having to sit his driver high over the propeller shaft as he would have to in a tighter, single-seat body. That shape tapers into a sharp point at the tail, which itself houses the fuel tank, in between two beautifully riveted halves of metal. Every detail is perfection, right down to the signature piano wire wheels, beautifully engineered and the perfect complement to the Type 59’s proportions.
The engine was a straight eight-cylinder, with two overhead camshafts driven by a train of gears from the rear of the crankshaft, this drive also being taken to the Bugatti built supercharger mounted on the right-hand side of the engine, with two down-draught Zenith carburettors on top.
Despite its advancements, and its beautiful shape, the Bugatti Type 59 was arguably too late in developments to best the German competition on the Grand Prix circuits of the world. But with just six or seven built, and its enviable looks, the Type 59 remains one of the most desirable pre-war cars ever made.
The Bugatti Type 59 could be seen at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace taking place from 3-5 September, 2021.