Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pur Sang T35

The Bugatti Type 35 is the archetypal vintage racing car, combining thoroughbred performance with ineffably respectable heritage and a list of victories as long as your arm. Of course, they're a little pricey these days, not to mention tricky to find. So what if your EuroMillions numbers come up on Friday and you want a T35 in good nick to potter about the countryside in, with the occasional nostalgic blast to Goodwood or Brooklands? Well, Pur Sang are your lads. They've been building replica Type 35s for the last twenty years or so and, unlike the hotchpotch creations that generally spring to mind on hearing the word 'replica', they're built to be as close as you can get to a modern-construct reliable 'vintage' Bugatti.

Power comes from a supercharged 2.3-litre straight-eight, designed to be as mechanically and visually similar as possible to the original Bugatti design whilst remaining within modern tolerances for reliability. Further classic details such as the curved track-rod arms, hollow-forged front axle and the zig-zag wiring between body panels are retained, and wings are provided to ensure you don't get tugged by the fuzz (as it were) for running open-wheeled - although it would be borderline sacrilegious to fit them!

The driving experience is suitably olde worlde too. The clutch is crafted to original Bugatti spec, meaning that it has a certain light-switch quality (i.e. it's either on or off), so it'll take a little while to master smooth standing starts. Getting the thing started is a challenge in itself; once you've turned on the drip-feed oil tap that lubricates the supercharger, primed the engine and pressurised the fuel tank, you're thankfully spared the indignity of running round to the front to crank it by hand - Pur Sang are gracious enough to fit a starter button for you.

The available power - 170bhp, or thereabouts - is thunderous even by modern standards, given the T35's extremely low kerb weight. The fact that you have a four-speed gearbox to play with, and you're underpinned by leaf springs, with nothing more helpful than drum brakes to ebb away the speed, all adds to the experience; it's headscarf motoring for headcases. And what can you expect to pay for the privilege? The Old Racing Car Company can source you one for somewhere in the region of £125,000, which is spectacular value given what you get. A Pur Sang T35 will hold its value just as well as the genuine article, such is the respect for their engineering in vintage circles. Sure, you could spend the same money on a 997 GT2 or a V12 Vantage, but you won't feel quite the connoisseur that you undoubtedly will in your very own (fake) Bugatti.

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