His rare collection contains in particular a Bugatti Type 51 – a model that is now considered as close as possible to its original state, a Type 37A – very well preserved, a Type 49 False Cabriolet with a short chassis and its bodywork is signed Jean Bugatti – the last surviving example in the world, a Type 35B and a Type 35A – equipped with the only Type 36 engine, with gearbox and rear axle, that survived. It is not difficult to understand how painful it must have been for Hans Matti to dispose of this collection, a one-of-a-kind, lifetime collection. Discussions for the acquisition of these cars lasted at least two and a half years, even involving Caroline Bugatti – granddaughter of Ettore Bugatti – in the negotiations.
The Type 51 – a works car dedicated to Grand Prix racing – has not undergone any restoration or repainting and still bears the marks of nine decades of passion for sport and motoring. Witness to the original knowledge of Ettore Bugatti’s team, it proudly displays traces of each chapter of its life. The Type 49, on the other hand, was one of Jean Bugatti’s personal cars, as evidenced by the initials ‘JB’ on the doors as well as some photos from the period showing Jean and this car . It is very rare to find a Type 49 with a body designed and built in the factory like this. Moreover, no other Type 49 has this unique Faux Cabriolet bodywork. Even more incredibly, these two cars – the Type 51 and the Type 49 – shared the same transport vehicle before being delivered to their respective first owners. Their reunion within this collection marks the end of a chapter that began in the 1930s.
The Type 51 from this collection began life as the Type 35B – one of the last produced – a factory Grand Prix car, then driven by Louis Chiron, after whom the car is named. Bugatti’s latest hyper sports car. As Bugatti sought to evolve the Type 35 – famous for being the most successful racing car in motoring history – the manufacturer developed an all-new twin-cam engine, as well as a new car to accommodate it: the Type 51. This car then became one of the very first to be equipped with the number 1 engine and was driven by Achille Varzi, and other contemporary heroes of motorsport. Even today, the Varzi is the subject of so much admiration at Bugatti that to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary, a special Centenary Veyron “Achille Varzi” edition was unveiled. With appearances in Monaco, Monza, but also in the Targa Florio and many other races, the car shows an impressive pedigree. Another important link between the different cars in the collection: the factory Grand Prix engine that was originally in this Type 35B was transferred by the factory to another Type 35B in the same collection, while the Type 35B with the new machine is sold under its new. name
One of the most defined circuits of the early era of motor racing was the French circuit of Montlhéry, known for its turns but also for its huge surface. Bugatti’s very meticulous approach to engineering led the brand to develop a new model to compete in Montlhéry: the Type 36. Equipped with a strong rear axle, it was designed to withstand the difficult conditions of this unique circuit. Two variants were produced and the final model featured a supercharger – becoming what many believe to be the very first supercharged Bugatti. But their racing career was short-lived and the only two Type 36s built were destroyed. All that remains is their engine, their gearbox and the rear axle of one of the two cars we can now see under the bonnet of the Type 35A in this collection. Again, this is a unique piece of Bugatti history.
Also in the collection: a Type 37A, part of a long line – probably started by the Type 36 – of Bugatti supercharged cars. This vehicle has also been strictly maintained in its original condition and has original serial numbers. Its long history, which includes a very long racing history, can certainly be traced back to its first owner in 1929. Even today, the Type 37A continues to participate in races. The Type 37, which entered the cart category, was already considered by its pilots as a serious candidate for victory, and the addition of a supercharger to the powerful four-cylinder – making it a Type 37A – made it possible push the car to more than 193 km/h, against 144 km/h previously. At Bugatti, only 76 cars were equipped with a supercharger and they raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and many others.
The vehicles in this unique collection are now entering their third period after being spent with their first owners and one in which they have benefited from the good care of Hans Matti. From now on, they will be kept in their original state, unrestored, like truly unique pieces of Bugatti history. When they arrived at the Château Saint Jean – a residence acquired by Ettore Bugatti who wanted a place worthy of the name to meet his customers, who still participate to this day in the legend of the brand – it was almost as if the cars were never left the place. The Château is steeped in history, rich in almost a century of Bugatti heritage.
Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti Automobiles, said: “Bugatti, as a brand, continues to draw inspiration from the genius of its founder. For Ettore, the most important thing for a Bugatti is that unparalleled. He has to be one of a kind. Nothing brings us closer to Ettore’s vision than to see his creations in the same condition as they left the factory with original rivets and paint, but above all the same high precision engineering that defines all its vehicles and in eventually succeeded. The collection of these cars and the stories they tell are truly priceless, and we are honored to welcome them to the birthplace of Bugatti Automobiles. As we stand at the dawn of a new era, design pioneers like these will continue to inspire us. »
We would like to thank Rock N Roll Classics and the owner for bringing these cars to Molsheim.