As part of its centennial celebrations, Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. has unveiled four Bugatti Veyron specials at Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza, each paying tribute to the brand's prestigious history in motorsports, which was crucial in promoting the brand as well as in establishing the legend that remains until today.
These four limited edition Veyrons specifically pay tribute to the Type 35 Grand Prix, an iconic racing machine closely linked to the Bugatti brand. In fact, the distinct radiator grille and eight-spoke aluminum wheels of the Type 35 are already signature elements of the Bugatti brand.
To note, the Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix was considered a machine ahead of its time in terms of engineering attributes. For instance, the Type 35 Grand Prix boasts of a hollow front axle design intended to reduce the car's overall weight. This front axle design was considered an innovation at the time, with the springs passing through the axle for a high level of stability.
Moreover, the Type 35 Grand Prix featured brake drums integrally fitted into the lightweight aluminum wheels. This design has been proven to be of a great advantage during pit stops since the crew could easily remove the wheel and expose the brake in just a few seconds just by unfastening the central wheel nut.
Known as blue racers because of their exterior color, Type 35 Grand Prix race cars were simply legendary after logging around 2,000 wins in just a decade. The Type 35 Grand Prix had its racing debut in 1924 at the Grand Prix held by Automobil Club de France in Lyon.
This racing machine was simply unmatched for an entire decade, practically because of their sophistication and intelligent lightweight design as well as easy handling. Of course, Bugatti was not the only one who wanted to build up the reputation of the brand and its products by winning prestigious races – a number of carmakers also had teams vying for crowns of different races.
By the 1920s, Europe was already a hot bed for racing, with different races in different countries scheduled on a single weekend. By then, the most popular destinations for prestigious racing events were the Targa Florio, Le Mans, Spa and Monza. Other racing events were also held in Rome, Nice, Antibes and Alsace.
At the time, Bugatti's ability to win race after race was backed by the fact that aside from its conventional normal sports and touring cars, it was also selling racing cars to private buyers. A good number of Bugatti race cars were participating in several Grand Prix events, which means that the brand had a better chance of winning any race than its rivals.
Consequently, company founder Ettore Bugatti reaped successes in many aspects. With its winning reputation, the founder was able to sell race cars at a high price to wealthy buyers who have sporting ambitions and at the same time take credit on the successes in various racing circuits around world – all achieved without having to shell out a single investment in these "marketing activities," resulting to a great amount of money entering his coffers.
Overall, Bugatti built around 350 Type 35-series – in various versions – with some even managing to survive accidents, a war and other circumstances through the years. These surviving Type 35s – with their history, antiquity and heritage – have become highly coveted collectors' items. Thus, in commemoration of Bugatti's 100 years, it was only rational to derive the four limited edition Veyrons from the Type 35 Grand Prix. Each of these Veyron Specials has its own distinct personality.
For instance, each limited edition features the racing colors of the respective countries: blue for France, red for Italy, green for England and white for Germany. Moreover, each Veyron Special has a specific "predecessor" in the form of the original Grand Prix Bugatti after which it was fashioned. They represent the generation of iconic Bugatti Grand Prix racers driven by world-renowned race drivers and which scored countless racing victories in the 1920s and '30s.
Interestingly, these Veyron Specials were also named after these drivers. The blue Veyron Special was named after French racer Jean-Pierre Wimille, who was one of the longest-serving drivers at Bugatti. He was credited with winning the first 24 Hours of Le Mans for Bugatti in 1937, and following it up in 1939. Wimille signed up with the team in 1933, and remained with Bugatti for more than a decade.
He was also credited for grabbing Bugatti's last-ever victory in 1947 at Bois de Boulogne, driving a 4.7-liter Monoposto Type 59/50 B in the process. Meanwhile, the red Veyron Special was named after Italian driver Achille Varzi, who was part of the official Bugatti team from 1931 to 1933. Varzi earned a number of wins with a private Type 35 C since then.
His accomplishments include winning the Monaco Grand Prix and an event on Berlin's Avus circuit, among others. On the other hand, the green Veyron Special was named after Englishman Malcolm Campbell, who is known for setting a number of world records for speed.
Campbell took part in several "normal" races between 1911 and 1936, usually driving a Bugatti Type 39 A or Type 35. Moreover, Campbell was an owner of one of the iconic Type 57 S street sports cars. Lastly, the white Bugatti Special was named after German driver Prinz Hermann zu Leiningen, who started driving Bugattis in 1927 when he acquired a Type 40 chassis and built a racing body on it.