A virtual magazine for a true passion!

Editor: Jaap Horst


Volume 26 (2021), Issue 3

The Pedroso connection

Jaap Horst

So you glance at the above photograph, and you think.... What a strange exhaust on this Bugatti...

Then you look again, and see that there's more aspects of the engine which are not correct.. Is it a T51, A T57? What the F?
You count the number of cylinders, and yes, there's 8 exhausts, and 8 spark plugs as well...

Then you see the car itself, and see that it is indeed very far from being a Bugatti. In fact it is a 1928 Pedroso Roadster, a car which I did not know anything about, until it was auctioned in the USA this past August.

Lower down this page, there's more photographs, as well as the auction catalogue description. That description does indicate that it is a 2-litre supercharged straight-8, and in fact in the engine photographs (unluckily none from the intake side) the carburettor can be seen on the exhaust side, as well as the top of the supercharger, which is mounted in front of the engine. Furthermore, the engine has a variable (by the driver) valve timing. Not clear exactly how it works, but on the rear of each camshaft there's some mechanism visible.
Two cars were built, of which one survives. The intention was to enter the car in the Le Mans 24-hour race, but the Marquis de Pedroso was injured in an accident in another car and was prevented from competing.

There's no mention of Bugatti at all in the description, which seems strange as there obviously should be. The appearance of the engine is too similar to that of a Bugatti, for it to be a mere coincidence. Though... 1928 is earlier than Bugatti's first twin-cam engine, which didn't come before 1930, on the Type 50!

So I asked my friend Dick Ploeg if he knew anything about this automobile, and he found the page from the Bugatti Trust Newsletter, shown on the right. In this letter from 2013, Tony Carroll of the VSCCA, recalls his communications with the son of the Marquis de Pedroso. Apparently the Marquis de Pedroso was a friend of Ettore, which explains a lot. Maybe in fact Bugatti even helped Pedroso in supplying parts for the engine.

The car was sold, and of course it would be very interesting to be able to inspect the internals of the engine. Were there more similarities in the engine design, than just the external appearance??

Car description from the Bonhams auction catalogue

C1928 PEDROSO ROADSTER
CHASSIS NO. 101

Sold for US$ 296,500 ( 261,995) inc. premium, at the Quail Lodge Auction, August 13, 2021.

  • 2-Liter DOHC Alloy Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
  • Supercharged
  • 3-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Leaf Spring Suspension
  • Dufaux Friction Shock Absorbers
  • 4-Wheel Drum Brakes
The Soriano-Pedroso was a French manufactured automobile, built at their manufacturing facilities in the posh French coastal town of Biarritz. Production ran from 1919 until 1924. Built by two native Spaniards Marques de San Carlos de Pedroso and Marques de Ivanrey Ricardo Soriano Sholtz von Hermensdorff, the original models were powered by engines manufactured by French automobile maker Ballot, with a capacity of 1,131 and 1,590 cubic centimeters, and later a 902 cubic centimeter Ruby-engined cyclecar joined production.

Although their main product was marine engines, in 1928, San Carlos de Pedroso built two specially designed two-liter prototype straight-eight supercharged twin-cam engines. Advanced for the day, the all-aluminum engines employed variable timing for the double-overhead-camshafts, which was controlled from the cockpit. The Marquis de Pedroso intended to enter the car in the Le Mans 24-hour race, but he was injured in an accident in another car and was prevented from competing. Of the two Pedroso's built, only this car, serial number 101, is believed to have survived World War II.

This sporting Pedroso Roadster was brought to the United States in the sixties by the Marques' son, Jose Luis de Pedroso who raced it at vintage events on the East Coast. Gifted by the Estate of Jose Luis de Pedroso, the car has in recent years been displayed in the Vault of the world-renowned Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The Pedroso displays and older restoration and has not been run or operated for some time. Featuring twin mounted rear spare tires and Brooklands-type aero windscreens, the car has a very sporting look, and the impressive, supercharged prototype DOHC inline Eight out front should ensure the car lives up to its sporting looks once operational. Period Jaeger and Le Nivex gauges are fitted in the dashboard, and Marchal headlights grace the front.


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