Every year the Bugatti Club Australia hosts its Great Australian Bugatti Rally, with intrepid enthusiasts from across the country taking on the challenge. This year was the 25th running of the event and ran in conjunction with a two week International Tour. Our man on the ground, Chris Martin, captured the action.
The International Tour started at Coogee in Sydney on Sunday 23 March and ran for two weeks, ending in Surfers Paradise on Sunday 6 April. The first week took in trips west to the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains followed by a run to Bathurst, home of the legendary Mount Panorama race circuit and the National Motor Racing Museum. The GABR joined the tour in the Hunter Valley visiting various sites in the famous wine growing region before spending a couple of days on the NSW coast at Port Stephens. Some of the Australian Bugatti Rally drivers joined in on parts of the International Tour making for a varied choice of cars on different days.
I joined for the second Sunday at Shoal Bay. That weekend there were 12 Bugattis on the road with a lone Lombard AL3. Several other members followed in various modern cars including a Ferrari, an Aston Martin, a Porsche and myself in a Mercedes 450 SLC.
The international contingent consisted of Brits David and Christine Feakes in their much-travelled T40 and Mike Preston and Louise Treutlein had the use of local racer, restorer and author Bob King’s T35. Chassis number 4450 is the ex-Glen Kidston car that ran in the Grand Prix de Provence and at Brooklands in 1925.
Two crews from Switzerland were Karel and Gwendoline Van De Velde in a supercharged 1929 T43 Grand Sport, and Hubert Jaunin with Anna Williams in a T44 Roadster. Both of the teams had come straight from taking part in the New Zealand rally – how’s that for dedication to the cause? Patrick Friedli and Nelly Chevrier brought a T44 from France and Luc and Stephan Slijpen from the Netherlands drove their T43.
As Bob King had lent his T35 to the British crew, he was driving various cars and helping other members, including a stint in the T38/43 of Stuart Saunders. Rally organiser John Shellard, partnered by Zhao Hang Chen, had a busy time between driving his 1926 T44 and making sure all the guests were taken care of. Ian and Anitra Kenny were going well in their charming T40 roadster, as was Neil Murdoch in another T44.
Club president Roger Cameron and Allison had a well-restored T44 complete with a rare Louchet ‘Frog and Shell’ radiator cap mascot, while Club Captain Mark McKibbin looked the part in his blue T37, another running without ‘guards that was later seen heading south through Sydney as we overtook him on the way home; I am not sure if he was planning to make it to Melbourne solo and non-stop.
The Lombard is a rarity owned by member Geoff Murdoch. A 1928 model with a supercharged 1100cc twin-cam engine, it was entered for the 1929 Australian Grand Prix as ‘unsupercharged’ and finished second overall and first in class driven by Bill Lowe. Similar in length but much lower than a T35, it does not look out of place running with contemporary Bugattis. Roll on 2015!
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