This Type 23 Bugatti is essentially an advanced evolution of the Type 13 (hence the tribute number) that put Bugatti on the map and established the marque as a producer of high-end and high performance automobiles. This one happens to be for sale at RM’s London auction, and it’s certainly an amazing piece of machinery, but you’d have to be absolutely nuts to drive it on public roads.
There are just so many ways this car can kill you. For, *cough* starters *cough*, it has a crank starter that’s perfectly capable of killing you if you’re not careful. Then there’s the lack of seat-belts that will make an extremely close inspection of the solid metal, speedometer-less dashboard very likely in the event of a collision...which is also entirely possible because it has drum brakes in the rear...and that’s it—no brakes whatsoever in the front.
And yet, for all the downsides of being essentially a pre-World War I car at its heart, it was still a masterpiece for its day. The 1.5 liter engine features four valves per cylinder—something most cars still don’t have nine decades later. The 50 hp it puts out was immense back then, as well. Having an engine, seat, and not much else is a big reason Bugattis of this era are known as “pur sang,” which means “little thoroughbred.”
It’s more than just light and powerful, though. It’s a pure sports car. Note the clock on the left-hand side of the dash—that’s really just a chronograph so the navigator can gauge speed to determine where in the world they are. Literally, since this is from an era when drivers would race across continents simply for pride. You’d have to be crazy and/or awesome to drive this on the street, but it might be worth it.