At this year’s 6th successive Schloss Bensberg Classics event on 18-20 July, Bugatti will be exhibiting no fewer than three of the most noteworthy highlights in the brand’s more than 100-year history. As the Type 35, one of the most successful racing cars of all time, pulls up to the start in the Rallye Historique, the France-based luxury brand will be using the baroque Schloss Bensberg as a backdrop for two further superlative automobiles: a Type 51, in a special exhibition on the history of Le Mans, and a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 on the Schloss forecourt.
The Schloss Bensberg Classics is one of the top ranking events for classic automobiles. Key features of the weekend will be Sunday’s Concours d’Elégance, featuring some of the most valuable and opulent vehicles in the world, and the star-studded Rallye Historique on the Saturday. In the Rallye Historique, a thoroughbred Grand Prix racer – a Type 35 from 1926 – will be representing the Bugatti brand of super-sports cars with a glittering racing history.
With over 2,000 wins and placings, the Type 35 is one of the most successful racing cars of automotive history. Born in the 1920s, it maintained a prominent position as winner of all the most important races for more than a decade. Drawing its 120 PS from a 2.3 litre, straighteight engine, the Type 35’s 750 kilogrammes are distributed perfectly across the axles 50:50, giving the car incredible dynamism. In the challenging time-speed-distance trial in Bensberg, this nippy little runabout will be motoring through the rolling landscapes of the Bergisches Land as part of Class 3 (built before 1945) and in the “hourglass” class, in which only mechanical timepieces can be used for timekeeping.
In the special exhibition in the park behind the Schloss, Bugatti will be presenting a further highlight: a Type 51. This exhibition focuses on the 24 Heures du Mans race, and will show winning vehicles from the 90-year history of this legendary competition. The Type 51 was produced from 1931 to 1934 as a successor to the Type 35 B. Its 2.3 litre dual camshaft engine produced around 180 to 190 PS, and racked up a series of race titles for Bugatti. Only 30 Type 51 vehicles were ever built, making it today one of the most sought-after and valuable Bugatti models.
The 24 Heures du Mans race has always been important to Bugatti. From 1933 to 1935 Bugatti customers won the race driving Type 51s. Bugatti entered the annals of endurance race classics with wins in 1937 (in a Type 57 G Tank) and 1939 (in a Type 57 C Tank).
Alongside these two gems of racing history, Schloss Bensberg will also host a modern icon: a Bugatti Veyron 16.4. The development of the 1,001 PS Bugatti Veyron was one of the greatest technical challenges in automotive history. Its launch in 2005 heralded a new era for the prestige brand, and set new benchmarks: this supercar is the most powerful and fastest series production vehicle in the world while remaining wholly practical for everyday use, and suitable for comfortable, luxurious cruising. This combination makes the Veyron utterly unique.