In a sign that the good people of Bugatti are not all that dissimilar to the rest of us, the company has taken out two of its cars for a drive and photographed the occasion for posterity. However, the cars in question are the prized Type 35 and latest Divo hypercar, and the location of the photoshoot is somewhat more glamorous than the B660 in Bedfordshire; Bugatti returned to Sicily, and the scene of the infamous Targa Florio.
The Type 35 forged its legacy in the 1920s on the Grand Prix circuit, most notably on the serpentine roads of Sicily’s Targa Florio. Because of its narrow streets, unpredictable farm traffic, tight turns, and sheer cliffs, the Targa Florio earned a reputation as one of the toughest challenges for man and machine. It was one of the most dangerous races in motorsports, too, which led to officials disbanding the race after 1977.
Bugatti’s Type 35 reigns in the annals of the Targa Florio along with Alfa Romeo’s 8C racers, Maserati’s Tipo 26, and Porsche’s 904, cars that developed their reputation thanks to drivers and manufacturers willing to take on incredible risk.
Just how successful was Bugatti’s rollcage-less, skinny-wheeled, straight-eight monster? Type 35s of various iterations (they varied according to displacement and forced induction) won more than 2000 races between 1924 and 1930.
The one featured in these photos is a 1926 Type 35 T; the “T” designates it as a supercharged model tuned specifically for the Targa Florio. It represents the golden age of prewar Bugatti – Type 35s won the Targa Florio five years in a row, from 1925 to 1929. The winning time in 1926 was 7 hours, 20 minutes, and 45 seconds, over a distance of 326 miles.
Key to the Type 35’s success was Albert Divo, a French driver who turned from planes to cars in the late 1920s and won two Targa Florios for Bugatti, one in 1928 and another in 1929 – the marque’s fourth and fifth victories on that track. He stayed with Bugatti for another four years as a driver and work on developments for the company’s cars.
The £4.1-million Divo is Bugatti’s 21st-century ode to Albert – and, of course, an attempt to tease a bit more cash from Bugatti’s best (wealthiest) customers.
Though it packs the Chiron’s quad-turbocharged, 8.0-litre W16, the Divo distinguishes itself by sporting a wider fixed rear wing and a host of upgrades and tweaks to make it more capable through the turns. With a maximum lateral acceleration of 1.6g, and over 1000 pounds of downforce, the Divo is quite proficient at sticking to the road and giving drivers a workout.
Bugatti called up Le Mans champion – and factory test driver – Andy Wallace to pilot the slim Type 35 and the 6.61-foot-wide Divo around the extant parts of the Targa Florio. We’re guessing that Wallace took Sicily’s curves more conservatively that Mr. Divo once did, but that’s probably a wise choice.