Here’s Why the 1929 Type 40 Grand Sport Was the ‘Budget Bugatti’

Jay Leno offers an in-depth look at one of his favorite bugs.

byMáté Petrány| UPDATED Aug 10, 2020 10:21 AM
Here’s Why the 1929 Type 40 Grand Sport Was the ‘Budget Bugatti’

Jay Leno has quite a few Bugattis that he continues to feature on his Youtube channel, and out of the impressive fleet, the Type 40 is probably the most basic in terms of hardware. It's hard to think of a "budget" Bugatti considering how much new and vintage samples sell for nowadays, but it was truly Ettore's budget offering during the late 1920s.

Between 1926 and 1930, the French factory built less than 850 units using the mechanical brakes and straight-cut gearbox of the earlier Type 38, and the 1496cc four-cylinder first used in the Type 37 racing cars.

This non-supercharged SOHC engine came with three valves per cylinder (two intake and one exhaust), five main bearings, a pair of Solex carburetors, and a clever oil pan design with pipes drilled into it to improve air-cooling. The result was around 70 horsepower for a top speed of 76 miles per hour.

Next to its louvered hood and boat-tail rear end, these four-seater Grand Sport cabriolets also came with a single door and taillight to save on costs, despite Ettore Bugatti throwing in a unique horseshoe grille as well.

YouTube | Jay Leno's Garage

Made in the year when Bugatti won the “Grand Prix of Nations” at the Nürburgring with a Type 35C and Louis Chiron, as well as the first Monaco Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix with a Type 35B and William "Williams" Charles Frederick Grover, Leno's 1929 Type 40 arrived from the collection of the former president of The American Bugatti Club, Robert Dunlop.

Needless to say, Leno's team has since restored the car, adding an electrical fan and fuel pump to make sure the boss has no trouble in Los Angeles traffic. In any case, they also have a spare Bugatti engine block.

With its wooden dash, stunning castings and fittings, and lively lightweight character compared to the more expensive straight-eight Bugattis, Leno's 1929 Type 40 Grand Sport is a keeper.

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