The Italians were out for revenge. For five years in a row the blue Bugattis of
France had triumphed in their most famous race, the Targa Florio, the ultimate test of
man and machine, held over a 67‐mile circuit that writhed around the mountainous north
of Sicily. Against the four Bugattis entered – four works entries and one privateer – were
ranged thirteen of Italy’s fastest cars.
Italy’s hopes for the 1930 race were pinned on the new – but tricky to handle – 2‐
liter Alfa Romeo driven by the saturnine Achille Varzi, but almost from the start its only
serious rival was the Bugatti Type 35B driven by the wily Monegasque Louis Chiron.
Chiron started twelve minutes ahead of Varzi, but the Italian caught and passed him on
the first lap, when Chiron fell back to fourth. Chiron responded brilliantly, and by the end
of lap two was in second place, a position he held until the end, finishing less than two
minutes behind Varzi in a 335‐mile race full of incidents in which both men had smashed
all existing lap records.
That was, it seems, the first and last race as a works car for Chiron’s Bugatti,
chassis no. 4959, for six weeks later it was sold to entrepreneur Charles Terres Weymann
of Paris for 92,000 francs. It was, however, first registered to Raoul Arthez of Pau in the
Pyrenees on August 5, 1930. He entered it for three Grands Prix in the region that
autumn, failed to finish in two and didn’t start in the third. And that, it seems, was the
end of this car’s racing career.
Remarkably, it was then lost to sight for the next three quarters of a century, only
being discovered in the Pau region in 2006, partially dismantled with all major
“This is,” commented one expert, “unquestionably quite the most remarkable
discovery of a long‐lost Bugatti I have ever known”. While two other cars of that 1930
Targa Florio team still exist, this Bugatti is the only that survives in the condition in which
it raced eight decades ago. It is, quite simply, unique.
The GT 40 earned its name due to the fact that it is 40" high. Learn more