A virtual magazine for a true passion!

Editor: Jaap Horst


Volume 6, Issue 1

Correction: The T102 depicted here, turns out to be a T125! Click here fore additional info!

Added October 2003

The Bugatti T102 and other post-war four cylinder designs

Jaap Horst
Drawings: Werner Striek (Copyright)

Introduction

Bugatti may have become famous for his straight eights, various very nice 4 cylinder models were designed and built. This obviously began with the T10, followed by the 8-valves and the later 16-valves and Brescia´s. Later the Brescia was updated into the T37 and T40.

During the war Ettore Bugatti worked on the T68 and T73, the latter of which was shown in the 1947 Paris Salon. Of later date is the T252 or Ettorette, which also is known to most enthusiasts, mostly because a couple of prototypes was saved and is now on display in the famous Schlumpf museum in Mulhouse.
Much less known is the T102, a design which was made in the late 40´s, and more or less developed simultaneously with the T101. The engine of the T102 was said to be half a T101.

The T102 is a very obscure model, because very little info on the car is available, it is unknown if an engine was built or maybe survives, and no body styles for the car were known until now. By accident I received from Austria an auction catalog: "Alte Reklame", concerning old advertisements, posters, toys. The auction was April 29, 2000, organised by Zacke Auktionen Wien. In it were 6 technical drawings (blueprints) of postwar Bugattis, 5 of them were clearly recognisable as T251 drawings. The last was a body design dated 1953/54, which is shown on the right.

As the original reproduction of a 130cm wide drawing was only 5 cm wide, a lot of detail was lost. What you see (especially when clicking on the small picture) is all the detail one could get from the picture. Yes, I can hear you comment, and yes, I did bid on the drawing (by mail), but it showed not to be enough. This drawing must be somewhere!!

However, one can still see the outlandish body style, not comparable with anything known from Bugatti. To ease viewing, I asked a friend Werner Striek (accidentally an Austrian himself) to make a clear version of the original drawing. We did some guessing, but we are fairly confident that the three views on the side are a good reproduction of the original design.

In the following I will discuss the various post-war four cylinder models, especially the engines, and of course the body styles. Below is a short table with the main characteristics. There still is discussion over some of the dimensions....

An overview

TYPE No.BORESTROKEVOLUMECYLS.VALVESCompressorB.H.P.BodyYEARSWheelbaseTrack
T68 48.550370cc42OHCYes-T1940/45 220115
T7376mm82mm1489cc48-2OHC?-T1945/47 260120
T73A76mm82mm1489cc412-SOHCYes or no-T1947 260120
T73C 76mm82mm1489cc416-2OHCYes230 - 250R1947 240120
T10272mm100mm1629cc48-2OHC No~75T / S1952 275 / 240120
T252--121042OHCYes or No-S1956 / 1962 --

Engines

In the Schlumpf collection in Mulhouse, a collection of no less than 5 4-cylinder engines of approx. 1,5 liters are on display. These have no descriptions whatsoever. Apart from this, there is the T68 engine in the roadster and a T73C chassis including engine. Below the engines are shown, with the indication which model it is. For some, I am not sure however.
T68
T73A, SOHC, Compressor mounted on the front
T73C, DOHC, Compressor mounted on the front
T102, square cut, T57 like camshaft covers, no compressor. Can also be T73?
T252, looks much more modern than the other engines, camshaft covers similar to T251
T252? Probably second version of T252, the first version being equipped with a compressor, the second without. No compressor is visible on either engine however. (Maybe dismounted)

T68

The T68 and T73 were actually developed by Ettore during World War 2, The T68 was a very interesting design, the engine being 370cc, with sixteen-valve twin overhead cams and a compressor, which was placed on the front, and driven from the crankshaft. The engine should be able to turn at 12000 RPM. According to some sources the engine was also thought to be used in motorcycles.

The tiny T68 was of course developed with the after-war shortage in mind. Later this was proven right, and various small cars and even microcars evolved to make people mobile. However, none of those was to have a dohc engine with compressor!

It is possible indeed that the T68 was developed by Ettore, not so much for production in his own factory, but to be licensed to other factories for royalties. Ettore had done this before, with the Peugeot Bébé being the most famous example. It is also possible that the T68 or T73 would be produced in the La Licorne factory in Levallois near Paris. which Ettore had bought shorly before the war.

Of the T68 only an experimental car was build, with a two-seater body. This is the car shown, and is now in the Schlumpf museum. This is indeed quite a rudimentary body, a closed coupe was also being worked on in the style of the T64, as factory drawings of this design exist. It had tiny wheels of pressed steel.

The car was never further developed, which is a pity. The car was driven in the Bois de Boulogne by Maurice Trintignant who was obviously impressed, stating "Quelle auto!" (What a car!)

4 x T68 In the Borgeson book a strange story is reported, published in a unidentified British motorsports publication sometime in 1946: "Lifting the after hatch of the newest 1.5 litre single-seater Bugatti will disclose 16 cylinders, eight camshafts and probably four superchargers, for, as no doubt you have guessed by now, four of the 300cc sports engines tested recently in the Bois by young Roland Bugatti are coupled up to the rear wheels. In case of mechanical derangement to any of these motors, I would add, the driver can declutch the motionless one and continue his race or journey on the remainder, three of these cars are being prepared at the moment by the Patron." Nice story, and very Bugatti like the coupling of multiple engines, but I don´t believe that any of these was ever really made, maybe drawn on the back of a cigar box... On the other hand, this may have been the inspiration for the EB16/4 Veyron.

T73

The T73, of all of the post-war four cylinders came most closely to actually being produced. It is also the only car that really was presented to the public. In the 1947 Paris Salon, a few weeks after Ettore´s dead, the T73A was shown, with a single overhead cam, blown engine (shown in the picture) and bearing the body which can still be seen at the Schlumpf museum in Mulhouse. (to see post-war four cylinder Bugattis, this really is the only place to go. At the Schlumpf´s not only all prototypes can be seen: T68, T73 and both T252 proto´s, but also 5 different, very interesting four-cylinder engines.) In Paris also the T73C was shown, a double overhead cam racing engine (probably a chassis (see photo) was also shown) intended for racing. It seems Ettore was intending to sell race cars, as he had done widely with the various version of the T35, T37, T51 etc.

The A whole range of engines was reported for the T73, including a T73, T73A, T73B and T73C. The T73B may be doubtful, the T73 presumably had a DOHC engine, two valves per cylinder (similar to T57 practice). The T73A had a SOHC engine, with 3 valves per cylindre, thus going back to the practice of T37. The T73C was the most modern, DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder. According to Roland Bugatti, the T73 had hydraulic valves, and Bugatti had a patent on this. Unknown is for which of the T73´s this would have been, probably the T73C

The body for the T73A also was based on T64 and Atlantic designs, however was a more sedate design, less flamboyant than the one for the T68. After WW2 enthusiasts build up a T73C, it is unknown however if the body for this really was a Bugatti design.

T102

While developing the T101, Pierre Marco also worked on a four cylindre 1500cc model, the type 102. The engine of this was to be half a T101 engine, and with that was in fact a pre-war design. The book by Uwe Hucke shows side and top view of the chassis, exposing its tubular nature. This chassis however is too long for the body of which the drawing was found. This is in line with the fact that of the T102 a touring and a sports version were planned, the sports version having the shorter chassis.

When taking a close look at the top two chassis-drawings, we can clearly see this is of the four-seater version. In the drawing below Werner Striek tried to fit in a shortened chassis in the body drawing. It is also seen that the T102 has independent front suspension, and a rear axle with coil springs. The rear axle and gearbox may have been taken from the T73.

Below all views of the body, as Werner Striek made them, based on the original drawing. The reason why I am sure that this design is for a body for the T102, and not T252 is because of it´s height. The chassis of the T102 is remarkably higher compared to that of the T252.

No other body designs for this car are known, and it is unclear if any parts for the car were made or survived. As indicated in the Engine section, there may be one engine in the Schlumpf collection which could be the T102 engine. According to Uwe Hucke some parts have survived and are in Germany.

T252

The absolutely last shot at a small sportscar was done in the same time as the ill-fated Grand Prix comeback, the T251 was developed. This T252 would have half a T251 engine. Versions with and without compressor are known. Little more is known of the engine, apart from it being a DOHC of approx. 1210 cc. In the engines section two relatively modern engines are shown, one of which definitively is a T252, the other one is different, and may be the other version. On the pictures no compressors can be seen.

In the Schlumpf collection, apart from the Ettorette body shown above, also a prototype exists, with no real bodywork. The second protoytpe of the T252 was completed in 1962.

Some designs by others for the T252 are known, of which the one by Michelotti shown here is the version which is best known (and published in Evolution of a Style by Paul Kestler)

Conclusion

A lot of different 4-cylinder models were developed after the war, without any of these being developed to the full. The range of engines which have been designed is even bigger, including versions with and without compressor. Strangely every time a new concept was followed, and the old ones were dropped. It might have been different if one (probably the T73 had the best chances) was developed into production, but it was not to be that way....

See for some additional info part 2


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