This Year Marks The 90th Anniversary Of Bugatti’s String Of Victories On The Gruelling Targa Florio in Sicily
Bugatti may be synonymous with luxury and effortless hypercars today, but racing has always played a pivotal part in its long and illustrious history. Competing in tough racing events was a great way to both test and develop new technologies as well as strengthen a motoring firms’ reputation. In the 1920s Bugatti did just that by competing in the toughest race of the day, the Targa Florio in Sicily, and crushed the opposition for five consecutive years.
The Targa Florio was established in 1906 by Sicilian Entrepreneur Vincenzo Florio and became a proving ground for sports car manufacturers the world over. Each race consisted of five laps; not particularly onerous you might at first think but this was no ordinary circuit. It comprised of around 1400 corners, covered dusty roads and bumpy mountain passes, and while the distance of one lap was cut from 148km (92.5-miles) to 108km (67.5-miles) in 1919, it was still one of the toughest challenges for both the entrants and their machines ever devised. The race distance and route was changed over the years but the spirit of the Targo Florio remained the same and when the last event took place in 1977, it signaled the end of an era of racing that is unlikely to be seen again.
While a number of manufacturers have claimed overall victory at the Targa Florio, Bugatti was the first to claim five consecutive wins, taking overall victory between 1925 and 1929 all with the iconic Type 35 race car. Producing 125hp from its supercharged 2.0-liter eight-cylinder engine, the Type 35 featured innovative weight-saving measures with the engine, wheels and transmission housing all being fabricated out of aluminum. Behind the wheel of this cutting-edge machine, Albert Divo achieved what were to be the last two wins for Bugatti in 1928 and 1929. Both were hard-won victories and it is no coincidence that Bugatti’s latest track-honed hypercar was named after him. Today, Bugatti still competes in some of the toughest racing events around and both its road and race machines still strive for perfection as did those early pioneers.
Images courtesy of Bugatti