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B2603 Automobile, full size, parts and spare parts, full size, Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti racing car, chassis No. 37357, engine No. 257, 1496 cc engine, designed and made by Ettore Bugatti, Molsheim, France, 1928, winner of Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, 1929. Click to enlarge.

1928 Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti

The 1928 Grand Prix Bugatti racing car was the work of the brilliant Italian designer, Ettore Bugatti (1881-1947). Bugatti is said to have been the greatest maker of racing cars until his fellow Italian Ferrari began to dominate the scene in more recent years. During the 1920s Grand Prix Bugattis took to the circuits with unparalleled success the world over. Today they are credited with winning more Grand Prix races than any other make in the history of motor racing.

The Bugatti was the …


Object No.


Object Statement

Automobile, full size, parts and spare parts, full size, Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti racing car, chassis No. 37357, engine No. 257, 1496 cc engine, designed and made by Ettore Bugatti, Molsheim, France, 1928, winner of Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, 1929

Physical Description

Automobile, full size, parts and spare parts, full size, Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti racing car, chassis No. 37357, engine No. 257, 1496 cc engine, designed and made by Ettore Bugatti, Molsheim, France, 1928, winner of Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, 1929

The Bugatti type 37A is a two seater Grand Prix racing car. The exterior is finished in a French racing blue, with highly polished horseshoe shape radiator and grill in German silver, featuring the Bugatti logo in the top centre. The radiator is flanked on either side by two headlights, bolted to the front mudguards and main body of the vehicle by a single rod. The Bugatti has two front and two rear tyres, designed in a spiralling spoke pattern with a spare tyre secured to the vehicles left hand side by a single leather strap.

The interior features driver and passenger seats made from wood and metal and upholstered in a soft light brown leather. The dashboard is finished in a finely polished metal and features a series of switches and gauges indicating the temperature and fluid levels of the vehicle as well as a wooden steering wheel with four metal spokes. Above the dashboard are two racing windscreens, made from glass and mounted in metal frames. There is a single side mirror in a metal frame on the right hand side of the vehicle.

The bonnet of the Bugatti is secured over the engine using two leather straps and can be opened up on both the left and right hand side or removed entirely. Underneath the bonnet features a four cylinder En Block single skew-driven overhead camshaft 1496 cc engine with three valves per cylinder made more potent with a Rootes supercharger. The transmission consists of a multi-plate wet clutch, straight cut sliding pinion gears with a right-hand outside gate change lever (4 forward and 1 reverse).

Vehicle Specifications:

Production years: 1927-1930
Total Number Built: Approximately 80
Type: 37A (supercharged)
Chassis No: 37357
Engine No: 257
Bore of engine: 69 mm
Stroke of engine: 100 mm
Cubic capacity of engine: 1496 cc
Carburettor: Updraft Zenith with a boost of 10 lb/
Tyres: 27 x 4.40
Wheelbase: 7 foot 10½inch (2362 mm)
Cooling: Pump
Ignition: Delco Remy
Makers HP: 11.0 m.p.
Treasury rating: 11.9 m.p.
Speed in 1st gear: 37 mph (60 kph)
Speed in 2nd gear: 60 mph (97 kph)
Speed in 3rd gear: 110 mph (177 kph)



1400 mm


1600 mm


3900 mm



This 1928 Grand Prix Bugatti was designed by Ettore Bugatti. Born in Milan in September 1881, of an artistic family, Ettore Bugatti's father, Carlo was an accomplished sculptor. The family wished young Ettore to follow in the family tradition. However, he quickly realised that he did not have the same talent as his father or brother and, after an engineering apprenticeship with the firm of Prunetti and Stucci, Ettore turned his energies towards the still-infant motor vehicle industry.

By the age of 18 he was competing successfully in races on a twin-engined tricycle and built his first automobile in 1900 at the age of 19. He subsequently worked as a designer for De Dietrich at Niederbronn, Alsace (1902-4), Emile Mathis at Graffenstaden, Alsace (1904-6), and Deutz at Cologne (1907-9). While working for Deutz he designed and built, it is said in the cellar of his house which was actually inside the Deutz premises, a small car with a four-cylinder eight-valve 1208 cc engine and shaft drive. This was the prototype of the cars which Bugatti began to manufacture after he had resigned from Deutz.

Bugatti was the pure artist whose only scientific knowledge resulted from learned experience and a natural mechanical ability aided by a gift of observation. He did not believe in calculations, formulae or principles and eventually surrounded himself with talented engineers whom he paid generously, but demanded from them total anonymity.

This magnificent hand built Bugatti racing car was built at Molsheim, France. In 1909 Bugatti had began renting a disused dye works at Molsheim, Alsace, a few miles west of Strasbourg and machinery for his works began arriving in January 1910. Only five cars were built in that year but by 1911 a total of 75 were delivered and the factory workforce had grown to 65 men. Bugatti cars then began to appear in racing, driven by Bugatti's partner Ernst Friderich who won his class in the 1911 Grand Prix de France. In 1913 came a much a larger car, with a 5-litre engine and chain drive, the prototype of which Bugatti had completed in 1910. This model is historically important as the engine had three valves per cylinder (two inlet, one exhaust), anticipating the three valve Type 30 and 37 engines of the 1920s.

During the First World War the Molsheim works were idle as the machinery had been removed for the German war effort. (Alsace was a German province from 1871 to 1918, and all pre-1919 Bugattis were German cars.) Bodies were mostly by Gangloff of Colmar who did much work for Bugatti right up to 1939.

Ettore Bugatti spent the War years in Paris, with his family, designing aero engines. At the end of 1918 he returned to Molsheim which was by then once again in French territory. He restarted production of the Type 13 and its successor, the sixteen-valve model which came to be known as the Brescia after Friederich's victory in the 1921 Grand Prix des Voiturettes at Brescia. About 2000 Brescias were made until 1926. This was followed, in 1922, with a 2-litre straight eight Type 30 giving Bugatti an entry into the higher priced market and beginning a line of straight-eights which the company was to make until the end of production.

The Type 35 was the most successful racing car of the inter-War period and the only car, which could be bought by the amateur, capable of winning Grands Prix combining performance with aesthetic quality. In 1926 the Type 35 won 12 major Grands Prix and in 1927 Bugattis claimed to have won 2000 sporting events, (though this figure presumably includes the successes of the Brescia). Although reluctant at first to fit a supercharger as his competitors had, Bugatti eventually added one to the car in 1926 to produce the Type 35C, 35B and 39.

Also in 1926 a 4 cylinder engine appeared, similar in layout to the 8 cylinder engine, but with a 5 bearing crankshaft, which, when fitted to the Grand Prix chassis, became the main sports car version, the Type 37. Later this too had a blower (or supercharger) fitted and became the very potent 37A.

During the period 1926-29 a profusion of models were listed including racing Types 35, 35B 35C, 39 and sports versions 35A, 37 and 37A. Bugatti started building bodywork in the 1923 Grand Prix cars. The beautiful Type 35 bodies were almost certainly made at Molsheim and by 1927 he had a fully fledged body shop.

Other models followed including the Type 40 using the four cylinder engine from the Type 37, a Type 43 Grand Prix sports four-seater, then the fastest car in the world (110 mph), the Royale, and the Type 41, Bugatti's greatest folly of which only 6 cars were made and only 3 sold.

In 1930 Bugatti entered into the high speed road car field and extended the factory and increased the work-force to 1400. This direction was opportune as the Depression had hit the car market. In 1936 the Bugatti factory, in common with most others in France, suffered a serious strike. The autocratic Ettore was so offended he retired from Molsheim to Paris, where he designed aircraft and boats, leaving his 27-year old son, Jean in charge.

It was Jean who was largely responsible for the last serious production Bugatti, the Type 57, with 3.3 litre twin-cam straight-eight engine introduced in 1934. In August 1939 Jean was killed while testing a racing car near Molsheim and less than a month later the Second World War broke out. Again the Molsheim factory contributed to the German war effort and Ettore moved to Bordeaux. After the War he and his younger son Roland began work on the Type 73 but few complete cars were made and Ettore's death in August 1947 put an end to the project.

The Molsheim factory continued under Pierre Marco, and then in 1963 Automobiles Bugatti was acquired by another once famous car manufacturer Hispano-Suiza, by then involved with diesel and aircraft engines. It was later absorbed by SNECMA, the French national aerospace industries combine and the factory continues to make aircraft parts.

Between 1909 and 1939 no more than 10,000 Bugattis were built spanning 36 different models. The name will liver forever as the great Grand Prix racer of the 1920s, exquisitely designed from the hollow polished steel axles to the delicately tapering body.

The Museum's type 37A Bugatti left the Molsheim factory on 13 September 1928, and was delivered to the London agents, Sorel. The car was imported to Australia for Arthur Terdich of Kew Victoria, without the rear half of the body work to avoid paying duty on the body. Terdich, who owned a furniture factory, had a wooden tail manufactured for it and the Light Car Club of Australia badge painted on the rear section.



The 1920s saw a big increase in Australian motor activities, probably encouraged by the numerous intercity speed record attempts. Two ambitious commercial concrete saucer-shaped tracks were opened one Maroubra, in Sydney, and the other, the Motor Drome at Olympic Park in Melbourne. The 1920s and 1930s produced a unique era for motor sport was almost completely amateur. Sponsorship deals seldom extended beyond the supply of petrol, oil and tyres, and most drivers owned or built their own cars.

In 1927 a representative of the newly formed Light Car Club of Australia travelled to Phillip Island, off Victoria's Mornington Peninsula 80 miles from Melbourne, to inspect a circuit built by the local council as a draw to visitors. The Club had been searching for a suitable venue on the mainland for high speed motoring competitions without the success. Bill Scott was asked to design the circuit, using existing roads where possible he produced a 10 km rectangular course with a dirt surface and some blue metal stone chips rolled in. Jack Day, driving a Type 37 Bugatti took Bill Scott on a flying tour of the new circuit as Scott named the various sections such Needle's Eye, a narrow cutting where overtaking was not possible, the start and finish were the Bridge of Sighs, and there was Hell's Corner and Heaven's Corner.

The first Australian Grand Prix in 1928 was held over 16 laps of the Phillip Island circuit giving a total of 170 km. The winner was Arthur Waite, the Australian-born son-in-law of Herbert Austin driving a factory backed, supercharged, Austin Seven developed specially for Booklands. In 1929 the race distance was doubled to 336 km. The number of entrants increased and crowd control made more necessary. The Museum's 1928 1.5 litre type 37A Bugatti had a runaway victory in the 1929 Australian Grand Prix. The car averaged almost 100 km/h over the rough dirt track of the Phillip Island circuit. In succeeding years the car was entered in many race events by various owners. During 1960s it competed in numerous club events organised by the Vintage Sports Car Club of Australia in Victoria including historic racing. In 1964 the car won the best presented vintage sports/racing car in the club and in 1966 won the highest number of points in competition racing and hill climbs.


Credit Line

Purchased 1984

Acquisition Date

27 November 1984

Cite this Object


1928 Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti 2023, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 9 February 2023, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=1928 Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=9 February 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}