"It has been said that after a race at Monza, Bugatti purchased a front wheel drive Miller from the American pilot Duray, giving in exchange one of his Type 35B; the aim was to disassemble the mechanics of the American racing car in order to discover its secrets. This would have triggered the idea of creating a four wheel drive automobile."

"It also has been said however, that Bugatti had decided for the integral drive on the basis of a design that an Italian designer, Antonio Pichetto, then in Bugatti's staff at Molsheim, had receive from a friend, GC Cappa, a Fiat consultant."

"The Type 53, the only integral drive Bugatti, made its debut in March 1932, after a two-year gestation. The car's chassis is simple and similar to that of the Type 13 of the twenties, while one feature distinguishes it from most other Bugattis: the radiator grille covers the classic horse-shoe radiator which characterizes almost all of Molsheim's creations, and also protects the mechanical parts of the front wheel drive."


"Apparently only 3 Bugatti Type 53 have been manufactured, of which we are not to sure about the fate of one of them. One is in Mulhouse's Schlumpf collection, where almost the entire Bugatti production is preserved. The second belongs to a private owner and is shown in these pages. Uwe Hucke of Monaco built a replica from factory parts, which he frequently uses."


"Bugatti used independent front suspension, with transverse springs and friction shock absorbers. This independent wheel solution was never again used by Bugatti. The Type 53 used light alloy wheels, similar to (but not identical) to those of the T50. These are characterized by the special fins, similar to turbine blades, which cool down the brakes, integrated in the wheels. That the car is in fact a prototype can be easily seen from the body, which is in fact not more than a bonnet. The huge tank seems a little over-dimensioned if we assume that the car had been designed only for the short hillclimbs."

"One car was destroyed by Jean Bugatti during the trials of the English Shelsley Walsh race. The chronicles of the time tell us that after the accident Jean Bugatti himself said: "I destroyed it, but at an incredible speed." The car was later rebuilt.


"The T53 obtained some important victories. In 1932 Chiron beat the "La Turbie" uphill race record, repeating the feat at Chateau Thierry and at Klausen in the same year. In 1934 Rene Dreyfus improved Louis Chiron's "La Turbie" record with an average speed of over 100 km/h. The short winning cycle of the Bugatti four wheel drive ends in 1935 with Robert Benoist's victory at Chateau Thierry."


"The problem's linked to the driving of the car, lay in Ettore Bugatti's stubbornness in not wanting to use the homo-kinetic joints. No attempt was made to use these constant velocity universal joints, and the steering was not only heavy, but reacted to engine torque. The presentation of other, more traditional, models like the T54, on which to concentrate the technical effort, pushed the four wheel drive Type 53 into the attic."

Source: bugattirevue.com

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