Villa Erba

25 May 2013

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Lot 134

1924 Bugatti Type 30 Torpedo in the style of Lavocat et Marsaud

  • Chassis no. 4289
  • Engine no. 278

Sold for €313.600


100 bhp, 1,991 cc single overhead camshaft inline eight-cylinder engine, live front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,850 mm (112 in.)

  • Matching-numbers frame, gearbox, axles, engine block, firewall, and chassis plate
  • Original front-wheel hydraulic brakes
  • Striking sporting coachwork
  • Formerly owned by Rosemary Burke
  • Well-restored to drive fast, in the Bugatti tradition


The Bugatti Type 35 remains the most successful racing car, in terms of overall number of victories, ever built. The heritage that led to that all-conquering model begins here, with the Type 30, the first eight-cylinder production Bugatti.



The Type 30 employed a lengthened version of the Type 23 “Brescia” frame, crowned by a 1,991-cubic centimetre engine fitted with a barrel-type crankcase beneath a pair of fixed-head cylinder blocks, surmounted by a single cambox, in which the overhead camshaft operated the valves by finger-type rockers to the two inlets and a single exhaust valve per cylinder. Carburetion was supplied by a pair of Zenith or Solex carburettors, whilst the ignition was initially by magneto; it was switched to a normal coil distributor on later cars. A fine four-speed gearbox with right-hand change lever and mesh gears, shifting through a wet multi-plate clutch, ensured the remarkably rapid gear change for which all Bugattis were renowned. The I-beam front axle was new and substantially constructed, and hydraulic front brakes were installed, with the rear drums considerably larger than those at the front.



Almost exactly 600 examples of the model were produced between 1922 and early 1926.



The Type 30 offered here is recorded in the Molsheim factory records as having been delivered with a frame and engine, 4289 and 278, respectively. At first intended for agents Bertrand y Serra, of Barcelona, it was instead delivered to Jarrott & Letts, of London, and it was equipped with the hydraulic front brakes and fitted, it is believed, with custom saloon coachwork.



The original saloon body was reportedly removed prior to World War II to build a racing car, but the war foiled those plans, and the chassis was hidden away until its discovery in the early 1980s by Vintage Sports Car Club officer Rosemary Burke, who acquired it from Jack Wade. The present coachwork, built to an original period design by Lavocat et Marsaud, was crafted for Burke by Roy Adnams, who also installed twin SU carburettors and a 15x54 rear differential for easy road driving. The car retains a period conversion to rear-wheel hydraulic brakes, meaning that this car, built in 1924, now has four-wheel hydraulic brakes!



Burke retained and regularly toured with her sprightly Bugatti until her passing, at which point it was sold through respected authority David Sewell to Graham Little. It then passed to Bruno Vendiesse and Philippe Hardy prior to its acquisition by the present owner. The car still presents extremely well, and it would still be ideal for swift, fun driving. Importantly, it retains not only its original frame and engine block, but also the gearbox, both axles, the firewall, and the chassis plate with which it was first supplied in 1924, as well as the extremely desirable Rudge-Whitworth beaded-edge wheels and hydraulic brakes with which it was originally equipped.



This is a splendid example of an original eight-cylinder Bugatti: the car that begat so much future greatness.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more