Bugatti 29/30

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The Type 29 project began in March 1921 with the preliminary designs for an 8-cylinder engine featuring paired cylinder blocks mounted upon a barrel crankcase with an overhead camshaft operating two inlet and one exhaust valves per cylinder. By 1922 the dimensions of the now Type 30-designated engine had increased to 60mm x 85mm yielding a capacity of just under two liters which was intended to coincide with the new limit for Grand Prix racing and in 1922 Bugatti embarked upon the manufacturer of a prototype batch of 8-cylinder cars suitable for racing at the highest level.

A total of sixteen pre-production chassis were laid down, with for the first time chassis numbers in a new series, starting with 4001. The cars produced had a strengthened front axle with hydraulic brakes, a novelty in 1922. Bugatti debuted the Type 29 with an entry of four brand new cars entered at the French Grand Prix in 1922, which took place on his 'home turf' close by his Molsheim works at Strasbourg. They performed admirably, with three of the four completing the full distance behind the sole other surviving car, a FIAT, of an original field of eighteen cars. A further entry at the Italian Grand Prix proved less successful, with three cars being retired before the race, although leaving Pierre de Viscaya as the flag bearer again saw the new 8-cylinder Bugatti come home in 3rd place.

Both events inspired the Argentinian Martin de Alzaga Unzue to organize through de Viscaya for the factory to supply a team of three 2 liter cars to campaign them here in America at the next year's Indianapolis 500. To compete on the famed brickyard circuit, these were fitted with wind cheating offset single seater bodies. Supplemented by a further two privateer entries of ex-Strasbourg cars, the five car équipe made quite an impact, with speeds of 110mph being achieved in practice, showing great promise for the new eight cylinder Bugatti.

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