Bugatti Type 23 ‘Brescia’ poster
Bugatti Type 23 ‘Brescia’ poster. Bugatti’s first major racing success came in 1920 when the Type 13, driven by Ettore’s right-hand man Ernest Friederich, won the French Voiturette Grand Prix de la Sarthe in Le Mans. The following year they achieved a clean sweep of the first four places at Brescia. With a relatively small, but high torque engine, it was the superior power to weight ratio that enabled this little racer to triumph over a field of much larger, more powerful, but heavier opponents.
This magnificent engine was the 1.5 litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve Type 13, first built in 1913, and following the success in Italy, all 16-valve Bugattis were dubbed ‘Brescia’. It marked the beginning of a long period of motor-sports dominance by Bugatti.
Capitalising on his racing success, Ettore Bugatti developed the Type 23 Brescia Tourer production model, based on the Type 13 but with a longer wheelbase. It was Bugatti’s first commercial success, with a top speed of 80mph, and following a transformed manufacturing process, two thousand models were built between 1920 and 1926.
The Type 23 was fitted with rear brakes only, it being Ettore Bugatti’s choice to favour acceleration over braking. One customer did complain that the brakes on his car were of a low standard, and Bugatti replied that his cars were for driving, not for braking. However, in 1924 the car was fitted with front drum brakes as standard equipment.
Following the early success of these cars, Ettore began to refer to Bugattis as ‘Le pur sang des automobiles.’ The family love of horses led to his use of this expression, ‘le pur sang’ (thoroughbred).
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