Pur Sang Type 35B

The iconic Type 35, produced by legendary coachbuilder Ettore Bugatti from 1924-1930, was the company’s most successful race car — reportedly winning more motorsport competitions than any other model from any manufacturer in history. It is also generally considered the world’s first supercar, setting the bar for automotive performance and development. 

Legend has it that the Type 35 won more than 1,000 races. At one point, the car averaged 14 victories per week in small events throughout Europe. On the international stage, high-profile wins included the 1926 Grand Prix World Championship, five consecutive Targa Florio victories (1925-1929), and the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix in 1929 – the first of three wins at that famed event.

Very few Type 35s were manufactured. The final variant, the supercharged Type 35B, remains the most coveted Bugatti race car ever made. Only 45 examples were produced.

In general, the Type 35 is considered the zenith of Ettore Bugatti’s masterful blending of form and function, the car that launched the high-performance Bugatti legend. Famed French driver/New York restaurateur Rene Dreyfus commented that the Type 35’s steering was “something fantastic.” Esteemed gentleman drivers from the dawn of motorsport such as Louis Chiron and Pierre Veyron were other prominent Type 35 pilots.

From Europe To South America:

Before and after World War II, several Type 35s and other prized European cars were shipped to South America. Replacement parts weren’t always readily available in the Southern Hemisphere, forcing infrastructure to evolve to reproduce parts. Skilled craftspeople emerged to mechanically maintain the European classics, and master metalworkers hand-formed replacement body parts. An apprentice system placed young talent alongside seasoned masters. Skills were passed down through generations.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, when a revival began in Argentina. Pur Sang, from the French horse-racing term “pure blood” or “thoroughbred,” started as a modest restoration operation, specializing in pre-war cars. While doing a ground-up Type 35 restoration, it was decided to make tooling for production. This approach grew from necessity: Argentina’s strict import laws encourage home-grown innovation. Also helpful was the fact that original blueprints for the engine and several other components were readily available.

Car enthusiasts took note of the Pur Sang Type 35. Inquiries ensued, and the company decided to build new Type 35s to order.

To maximize authenticity, Pur Sang chose to use most of the same techniques originally employed by Ettore himself. The attention to detail includes the painstakingly hand-turned finishes on the instrument panel and firewall. All carriage work is done by hand using an English wheel. Made-in-house hardware remains true to the original square bolts.

However, Pur Sang does integrate a few modern manufacturing processes. CNC machining ensures accuracy and repeatability for critical components. One of Ettore Bugatti’s many engineering masterpieces, the Type 35’s wheels were one of the first-ever cast from aluminum alloy. Ettore integrated the brake drum into the wheel, the wheels’ spokes helping to dissipate heat. An innovative cable system with sprocket and tensioners equalizes brake biasing at all four corners.

Other forward-thinking engineering included making the 2.3L straight-eight engine a structural part of the car. Instead of using an engine crossmember, Ettore designed a two-piece crankcase. The lower crankcase doubles as a lateral frame member. The famous auto manufacturer also designed a hollow front axle for the Type 35 to minimize unsprung suspension weight.

For the scant few original Type 35 engine parameters that didn’t withstand the test of time, Pur Sang offers its customers options. A prime example is the OE roller-bearing crankshaft. More difficult and expensive to maintain than a plain-bearing crank, Pur Sang nonetheless offers its customers a choice of period-correct or modern technology. This carries through to the engine firing order: Later straight-eights evolved with a more efficient order to minimize noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and produce a little more power.

Each Pur Sang Type 35B is built to order. Upon rendering a deposit, the customer specs options. Build time is about 90 days, and delivery turnaround depends on backorders. Pur Sang’s Commercial Director, John Bothwell, personally handles each of the roughly 20 car orders per year, cutting out all middle men. Bothwell works with each client to assist with deciding on the spec of the car and in turn oversees the production, even personally test driving each car prior to delivery. The company prides itself with this model of factory-direct service.

Hailing from a car-collecting family, Bothwell’s involvement in Pur Sang is the culmination of a life-long passion for classic high-performance motoring experiences of all kinds and a desire to cultivate a passion for vintage motorsport among young enthusiasts.

Pur Sang’s large staff has increased annual output from its previous three to four cars per year to over 20. To date, Pur Sang has delivered dozens of cars to over 20 countries worldwide. Prominent Pur Sang customers include members of the Bugatti family, members of royal families, and Jay Leno.

Pur Sang created the Type 35B to be driven. John Bothwell has driven his personal car 4,200 miles cross-country and puts his through the paces at tracks across the world. For more information, visit PurSang.us or call 949.294.5719.