1929 Bugatti Type 44 Tourer Coachwork by Harrington

1929 Bugatti Type 44 Tourer Coachwork by Harrington

By the early 1930s Ettore Bugatti had established an unrivalled reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on road or track; the world's greatest racing drivers enjoying countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory's products and often choosing them for their everyday transport. Considered the finest touring Bugatti of the 1920s, the Type 44 was introduced towards the end of 1927 and lasted in production until 1930. 1,095 were built, of which around 10 percent survive today. The model was powered by Bugatti's classic single-overhead-cam straight eight engine, one of the most famous automobile power units of all time. Because of its lengthy run of success, Ettore Bugatti remained committed to his single-cam design, only adopting the double-overhead-camshaft method of valve actuation, after much prompting by his eldest son Jean, on the Type 50 of 1930. The Type 44's twin-block, three-valves-per-cylinder, single-plug engine displaced 2,991cc and produced approximately 80bhp, an output good enough for a top speed of over 75mph. Driving via a four-speed gate-change gearbox, this superb motor was housed in Bugatti's familiar Vintage chassis featuring a circular-section front axle and rear quarter elliptic springing.

This particular car's history is detailed in the accompanying and typically thorough 56-page copiously illustrated report compiled by independent Bugatti consultants David Sewell and Mark Morris, which prospective purchasers are encouraged to read. Chassis number '44923' is documented in the factory records on 23rd April 1929 and was delivered to Colonel W L Sorel, the manager of Bugatti's London Depot. Four Type 44s were delivered in this order batch: '44923', '44924', '44925', and '44926'.

The original coachwork chosen for this car was that of a well-appointed four-seater tourer with full weather equipment. Delivered to London in rolling chassis form, the Bugatti was then despatched for bodying to coachbuilder Thomas Harrington Ltd, at that time based in Brighton, Sussex. Founded in 1897 and known to have been bodying cars as early as 1905, Harrington had become a major producer of motor coach bodies while keeping up the car-bodying side of its business, concentrating on high-quality European makes, Bugatti included.

Though the exact number of Bugattis that carried Harrington coachwork is not known, it is believed that they completed only two or three coupés and perhaps as many as five cars with touring coachwork, of which this example is one of two known survivors.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams & flickr

Production Start 1929
Country of origin Italy