Start a conversation about pre-war Bugatti and the big names will rise right to the top. Royales and Type 37s get all the love but, as Jay Leno points out in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, there are other models from the luxury French marque that deserve your attention. In this case, it’s the Type 40.
The street equivalent of the the Type 35B grand prix cars, the Type 40 was meant to be an affordable but sporty car. Jay likens it to relationship of two modern Ford Mustangs. The latest GT500 is a wild exercise in track-ready aggression, but the ecoboost four-cylinder model packs a great punch in a tamer, more livable, and affordable package. The Type 40 has the distinct look of a pre-war Bugatti, mainly thanks to the signature radiator shell shape.
Jay purchased this particular car from a founding member of the American Bugatti club and therefore has a significant trace on its history. Old photos of where the car has been are always fascinating, and Jay is not short on those. He also has a few of the yearly badges from the Bugatti club and even a spare engine tucked in the corner of the shop. That spare engine is, frankly, adorable size.
The only unique part to the Type 40 is the radiator. The rest of the car is pieced together from the parts bins in the Bugatti factory. Let’s be honest here, if we were going to piece together a car from parts bins, the Bugatti bins are probably towards the top of the list that we would like to raid.
On the road, I have to admit that the Bugatti looks to be a delight to drive. Compared to the experience of my 1929 Ford Model A, the shifting a overall manners of the Bugatti really highlight how large the gap between the best and the rest really was back then. The Type 40 is a humble Bugatti, but that doesn’t make it a humble car overall. I’d still drive one though, and it seems like Jay enjoys it plenty despite it not being one of the famous models. Humble man enjoys humble car just isn’t a catchy headline though. Hope you understand.