A virtual magazine for a true passion!

Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 22, Issue 3

The car with the stolen colour

By Michael Müller, e-mail: michael@axos.nl

Picture 1: Bugatti T51A monoplace at the collection Schlumpf Mulhouse.
A racing Bugatti ought to be blue, everybody knows that. Same for Ferrari; any other colour than rosso corsa is considered a sacrilege. At least this is what ordinary people believe when they attend historic car events or go to museums. So when they visit the Musée National de l'Automobile de Mulhouse, better known as “Collection Schlumpf”, they are not surprised to see this unique Bugatti “Monoplace” painted in “French blue”. But were all racing Bugattis blue? No, as the regular readers of the “Bugatti Revue” will surely know. There have been red, green, and white Bugattis, and even yellow and orange ones are known. Why? Because the colour of a racing car represented the nationality of the entrant in international race events. These colours had been fixed by the AIACR, the predecessor of the FIA, and those who want to know more can find it here. But this is not an article about racing colours, it is the story of a racing car, a long and thrilling one, as this car was actively raced for an unbelievable period of 23 years, by big names and by amateurs, in Grands Prix and local hillclimbs, rebuilt and upgraded various times, and during all these 23 years the car was painted – white!

Picture 2: Georg Kimpel
Source: BASF Corporate history
The car was built in 1926, but the story starts somewhat earlier. With a big chemical company and a firefighter. The company was “IG Farben”, the German chemical industry combine, and the man Georg Kimpel. IG Farben had just finished the development of their synthetic coal-based petrol, and at their BASF plant at Ludwigshafen they invented an octane booster based on iron carbonyl. The addition of both resulted in a premium petrol with an octane rating normally only achieved by benzene or alcohols. Before introducing the fuel to the market extensive testing was done, and for that they used not only their engine testing laboratory, but also the company’s own fleet of passenger cars.

Georg Kimpel, born in 1895, joined the BASF company in October 1920. He was a member of the internal firefighting service, in charge of the vehicles. Later he was promoted as supervisor of the whole car park. Kimpel had a great interest in racing, and in 1925 he participated sporadically in some hillclimbs with loaned cars. In summer 1926 we see him regularly with a Bugatti, a T39 (4603) he bought from Edgar Morawitz of Prague, but this was soon abandoned due to its unreliability. Not entirely surprising, as Morawitz drove it to Sicily, raced the Targa Florio, and then the whole way back home. 4603 was finally sold to Willi Cleer, a Frankfurt garage owner.

Here begins the story of our “hero”, the Bugatti Grand Prix car with the serial 4821. The car was picked up at Molsheim by Georg Kimpel on 6 Sep 1926, and driven home to Ludwigshafen carrying the factory trade plate 1659-WW5. It was then road registered as IID-11186. Two details are remarkable; one is that although 4821 in some records like Conway is listed as T35 it was in fact a supercharged T35C. Immediately after delivery Kimpel entered 4821 for the Solitude race on 12 September, where Wilhelm Kirchner in his race report in the AAZ (Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung) wrote “…interessierte ganz besonders der neue ZweiliterBugatti mit Kompressor, der meines Wissens nur in zwei Exemplaren existiert und den Kimpel

Picture 3: First outing of 4821, "Rund um die Solitude", 12 September 1926
Source and ©: Daimler AG
soeben erworben hat, um ihn erstmalig auf der Solitude zu erproben“
(...most interesting is the new two litre Bugatti with compressor, of which as far I know only two exist, and which Kimpel has just acquired, in order to test it for the first time on the Solitude). With only a few days between delivery and first use in competition I believe it can be excluded that conversion to supercharging had been done privately, and also later photos show the typical factory inlet manifold. As picture 3 shows the car already one week after delivery was troubled by overheating, in front of the radiator some kind of funnel was attached which forced more air through the radiator. Also the bonnet received additional cooling vents with some of them facing forward.

On the same weekend the factory team’s drivers Jules Goux and Meo Costantini raced two other 35Cs at the Gran Premio di Milano held at Monza; one of these cars was sold directly after the race to Count Aymo Maggi, and the other somewhat later to the Juneks. It is noteworthy that an unknown German privateer was given the same privileges as the factory racing team and two close friends of Le Patron, as deliveries of the supercharged 2 litre model to other customers would only start in February of the following year.

Picture 4: Bugatti factory team in July 1925 with 4 T39's on the way to Monthlery for the Grand Prix de l'ACF Touring.
Also remarkable was that 4821 came with two different bodies, a racing car and a sports car version. Picture 3 shows Kimpel at the maiden race “Rund um die Solitude” near Stuttgart with Grand Prix bodywork, and no. 5 below at the Hohe Wurzel hillclimb at Wiesbaden on 24 May 1927 as sports car. The roadster bodywork was necessary because the AIACR, the international motorsport authority, dropped the touring car class from their revised 1926 sporting code, and instead introduced a new definition for sports cars. This required a full windscreen, doors, running boards, and a hood. This coachwork looks very familiar, because it was used by l’usine in 1925 to disguise their T39 race cars as touring cars in order to participate in the Grand Prix Touring at Montlhéry (picture 4). Immediately after that event the bodies had been swapped back to the standard GP version. Obviously Bugatti took the chance to get rid of some old stock, as Eliska Junek’s 4572 was also delivered with this tourer coachwork, which later had been taken over also for her 4831. It is unclear whether the touring body of 4821 was with the car from the beginning, or only acquired in 1927.

Picture 5: Georg Kimpel and Charlie Kappler with 4821 at the Hohe Wurzel hillclimb Wiesbaden 24 May 1927
Source: Kreisarchiv Rastatt
But could Georg Kimpel afford such a car? Very unlikely, as he was only a lower-ranking employee, and although nothing is known about his roots a wealthy background seems very doubtful. The price of the Bugatti – including import duties – was around RM 30.000, whereas his monthly salary was an estimated RM 300. 4821 was sold after only 10 months and succeeded by a then brand new Mercedes S type, a car in the same price category, which after only another year had to go in favour of the improved type SS. Was it coincidence that Kimpel started serious racing exactly at the moment MOTALIN was in the testing phase? And how to test a high-octane fuel on ordinary road cars with a compression of only 5:1? For that purpose a high -performance racing engine would have been the only suitable testbed. I’m quite sure that Kimpel convinced his superiors that practical testing is more realistic than their test benches , and under this aspect it is also easier to understand why Bugatti handed over one of the first “2 litre compresseur” to an unknown fireman. Today we would call this a win-win situation...

Picture 6: Kimpel's trophies, all won with MOTALIN petrol
Source: BASF Corporate History
Not much could be found in the BASF archive about this topic, except a photo (picture 6) showing Kimpel’s trophies achieved with MOTALIN fuel (sic). Unfortunately the archive was in the state of reorganization during my researches, so there is some hope of finding more at a later stage. Also in the period press no relation to BASF / IG Farben or MOTALIN was shown, Kimpel was always considered to be a privateer. Understandably the company was probably not interested in publicity during the development and testing phase, but even after the market introduction in 1927 I could not find any advertisement promoting Kimpel’s race successes.

From September 1926 to July 1927 Georg Kimpel entered 4821 in numerous events, mainly hillclimbs in the southern part of Germany. Class wins were normal, and even some overall wins and new track records are reported. He was a fine and talented race driver, although it has to be said that some of his good results must be attributed to the car, as serious competition was very limited. At the Nürburgring opening race in June 1927 the car retired with a broken rear axle during the first lap, and Kimpel had to witness Caracciola’s phantastic win with the new Mercedes 680 S. As a consequence a Mercedes was ordered, and 4821 was sold to Karl Kappler. Georg Kimpel disappeared from the racing scene after the 1929 season, and he quit his job with BASF in October 1930.

Picture 7: Karl "Charlie" Kappler
Kappler, sometimes spelled Carl with a “C”, but generally called Charlie, was one of Germany’s best known racing drivers of the 20’s. Kappler was born in 1891, and started racing in 1921 as employee of Benz. He soon became an independent driver and could be considered as the first private professional, as besides his tyre business in the Black Forest town of Gernsbach he had a rather good income from prize money. During the season Charlie dashed around from one event to the other, mainly hillclimbs which were very popular in that period, but also trials, gymkhanas, rallies, and circuit races. He achieved nearly 300 (class) wins during his active career. Kappler always selected his cars very carefully; they had to be potential class winners with also the chance of overall wins, and if there were several events on one weekend he would choose the one with the highest prize money in relation to the expected competition. In later years he very often entered 2 cars in different classes, normally one in the sports car category and another one in that for race cars, simply to improve his chances for a class win and therefore prize money. So it is not surprising that in July 1926 he bought a new Bugatti “Targa” model (T35T) which allowed him to start in the 3 litre race class, by entering his Simson Supra as 2 litre sports car. However, he was not very pleased when he realized that his 4796 was one of the last unsupercharged 2.3 litre, and nobody had informed him that the T35TC was already available. And he was even mor e aggrieved when Kimpel popped up with his supercharged 2 litre and took away some overall wins from him. This rivalry peaked at the Herkules hillclimb in May 1927, when Kimpel entered 4821 as a sports car for the first time, in direct competition to Kappler’s Simson. He was considerably faster – 3:50.3 v/s Kappler’s 4:22.2! However, Kappler’s time in the 3 litre race class with his 35T of 3:48.2 showed his capabilities. Only 2 days later both contenders repeated their battle at the “Hohe Wurzel” hillclimb near Wiesbaden. Picture no. 5 shows Kimpel in full concentration waiting for the flag to drop, with Kappler - who started 2 cars behind - leaning to his car trying to unsettle him. In vain – the result (3 runs added up) of 6:12.4 v/s 7:28.3 was even more impressive. So to dominate the 2 litre sports class again for Kappler there was only one option – buying Kimpel’s 4821. Which he did…

Picture 8: Karl Kappler's Bugatti 4821 after the accident at the German Grand prix, Nürburgring, 17 July 1927 - Source: Kreisarchiv Rastatt

Picture 10: Grosser Preis von Deutschland, Nürburgring, 15 July 1928
Source and ©: Daimler AG

Charlie Kappler took 4821 over around 10 July, and drove it with registration IVB-39118. However, it is doubtful whether this registration was legal, as it was the same number he used on 4796. Unlike in some other countries, in Germany swapping plates was not allowed.

Picture 9: Kappler and his spouse arrive at the Kurhaus at Wiesbaden for the Automobilturnier which was held from 12 to 17 May 1928. The event includes besides social sessions like a concours d'elegance, gymkhana and an excursion, also a hillclimb and a circuit race. - Source: Kreisarchiv Rastatt
The first employment of 4821 was the German Grand Prix on 17 July 1927, open for sports cars only, and held on the new Nürburgring, which had been inaugurated only 4 weeks before. Kappler stopped on lap 6 with a steaming radiator, and when his engine had cooled down, he set off in pursuit of Junek but spun off at the South curve with a jammed throttle (see picture 8).

Kappler raced 4821 until the end of the 1928 season, parallel with 4796 and also alternately. Mainly at hillclimbs, but also at the German Grand Prix in 1928, which again was open to sports cars only. Luckily the definition of a sports car had changed again, so cycle wings, lighting, and a non-functional hood were now sufficient to convert a Bugatti race car into a sports car, as picture 10, taken at the Nürburgring, confirms.

Charlie Kappler reported always considerable troubles with overheating of 4821, and as the photos show this problem obviously existed already during the Kimpel period. From a historian’s point of view these unsual cooling vents are a gift, because they allow a rather easy identification of the car also in later years. Kappler stopped speed racing at the end of 1928, and participated only in rallies, reliability trials, and gymkhanas. He sold 4821 in April 1930 to Heinrich Joachim von Morgen.

Picture 11: 9 April 1930 in front of Kappler's shop. 4821 is sold to Heinrich Joachim von Morgen (sitting). Kappler is not visible because he took the photo, only his 2 famous foxhounds
Source: Kreisarchiv Rastatt
H.J. von Morgen was born in 1902 in Berlin, an offspring of a typical Prussian officer dynasty. During the war he was still a cadet, and thereafter a military career was a dead end street. As brother-in-law of Anthony Fokker he tried to find a home in aviation, but that ended when Fokker moved his Berlin factory to the Netherlands. Von Morgan then was a partner in a small automobile manufacturer, but the company didn’t survive the economic crisis of 1922/23. Finally he decided to become a racing driver, making a living from prize money, and in 1927 he started with an Amilcar GCS, which for 1929 he substituted with one of the famous C6 models. After some fine successes he decided to buy Charlie’s 4821 which was finally for sale. The sales date is confirmed by some press reports. Shortly afterwards von Morgen was offered the chance to buy 4948, the works car driven by

Picture 12: Prince Hermann zu Leiningen with 4821 at the AVUS-rennen Berlin, 2 August 1931. Unfortunately he retired in lap 7 with megneto failure.
Guy Bouriat at Monaco, which was now equipped with a larger crank to T35B specs. To decide between a 4 year old heat-troubled veteran and a de facto brand new works car is easy, or? So he sold 4821 to his friend Prince Hermann zu Leiningen, who was from Amorbach in Hesse, the location of the family castle.

Picture 13: Two members of the "German Bugatti Team" at the Monaco Grand Prix on 19 April 1931. Left Prince Leiningen with car #4, and right E.G. Burggaller with #2.
Hermann Prinz zu Leiningen was born in 1901, and started sports car racing in 1927 with a Bugatti T37A, which the following year was accompanied by a Mercedes SSK. He also used both cars as daily drivers. H.J. von Morgen persuaded him to enter Grand Prix racing, possibly to get rid of the now surplus 4821. The Prince accepted, and together with Ernst-Günther Burggaller these 3 founded the “German Bugatti Team”. Leiningen raced 4821 in numerous national circuit and hillclimb events, and also abroad in Monaco and Alessandria. Picture 12 shows Prince Leiningen at the AVUS in 1931, picture 13 at Monaco the same year, together with team mate E.G. Burggaller. Although Leiningen was a good and talented driver he didn’t see the finish very often, as the Bugatti was rather worn out now, despite constant service and improvement, e.g. fitting of large brake drums, and sorting out the overheating problem. It was sold at the end of the 1932 season to Rudolf Steinweg of Munich. Prince Leiningen continued to race the Mercedes SSK, and in 1933 he was engaged by the Auto Union works team for 1934 onwards.

Picture 14: Rudolf Steinweg with 4821 at the ice race on the frozen Eibsee, 18 February 1934, where he won the 2 litre sports car class.
Rudolf Steinweg could be considered as Germany’s most neglected racing driver of the 30’s, although he was extremely talented and successful, especially in 1933/34. But racing a Bugatti in those years was not very popular in now brown-shirted Germany, he also was too old for being used as an idol, and he simply died too early. Nothing is really known about him except his racing statistics and the year of birth which was 1888. Some sources report him racing as early as 1921, but proven records start only 1929 where he raced a BNC 529. The next year we find him with an Amilcar GCS, which later was accompanied by a C6 model. Steinweg raced 4821 with various

Picture 15: Rudolf Steinweg's new monoplace, photos published in DDAC Motorwelt shortly before the Eifelrennen 1934
levels of success in 1933, first places, technical failures, and even a crash at Brno could be noted. Picture 14 shows him at the Eibsee ice race in February 1934, the very last appearance of 4821 in its original layout.

Between March and May 1934 Steinweg converted the Bugatti into an elegant looking singleseater, the car is here seen (picture 15) still in bare aluminium. Unfortunately it is not known whether he narrowed the original frame of 4821, or used that of another car in order to keep the time schedule for the conversion as short as possible. It has to be mentioned that such work is not done by shortening the transverses only, but also the bending radius of the longitudinal members had to be adjusted. Therefore it may be even possible that the frame was completely new built.

Picture 16: The first outing of the new monoplace was the Eifelrennen on the Nürburgring on 3 June 1934, where Steinweg had to retire after he was overtaken by his left rear wheel.
The first outing of the new monoplace was the Eifelrennen on the Nürburgring on 3 June 1934, where Steinweg had to retire.

For the rest of the 1934 season Rudolf Steinweg concentrated on hillclimbing only, and he entered 4821 for some prominent events where high price money was offered. He won the 2 litre racing car class at Felsberg, Gabelbach, Klausen, Schauinsland, Stelvio, and Harmashatar. At the Kesselberg and Feldberg events the organizers had not scheduled a 2 litre class, so Steinweg had to compete against actual GP machinery, which resulted in only an 8th and 9th place.

Picture 17: 10 June 1934 - Felsberg hillclimb
(near Überherrn, Saar)
Picture 18: 17 June 1934 - Kesselberg hillclimb
(Southern Bavaria)

Picture 19: 5 August 1934 - Klausenrennen, Switzerland
Source: www.bugattibook.com
Picture 20: 26 August 1934 - Stelvio (Stiffser Joch) hillclimb, Italy

The situation in Germany became more and more difficult for Bugatti drivers, as those in power wanted no victories of foreign cars, so first the 3 litre race car class was scrapped, and increasingly also the 2 litre one. The 1500 cc voiturette class was still prominent though, so if Steinweg wanted to stay successful there was only one way – to convert the car to a 1.5 litre. He did this by installing a T51A DOHC engine, but that engine already had its own history, which requires a side step.

Picture 21: 10 August 1930 - Klausenrennen, Switzerland
E.G. Burggaller 4842, class win sports cars 2000-3000 cc.
Another well-known German Bugatti racer was Ernst-Günther Burggaller. Born in 1896 he served in the war as a fighter pilot in the famous Richthofen squadron. After the war he opened a driving school at Berlin. Burggaller started racing with motorcycles in 1922, and switched to automobiles in 1928 with a T37A. He was an excellent driver and quite successful with the small Bugatti. In April 1930 he got the chance to acquire 4842, a T35B owned by Emil Bremme, a brewery owner from Barmen. Burggaller raced 4842 extensively in 1930 and 1931, in sports and race car trim, on circuits and in hillclimbs, not only in Germany but also abroad. He was quite successful and achieved numerous class wins. Picture 21 shows Burggaller at the 1930 Klausenrennen in Switzerland.

But after 5 years of active life, retirement beckoned for 4842. With the new DOHC T51 now being raced by both the factory and numerous privateers, the T35B was outdated and a mere also-ran in larger events. So Burggaller ordered one of these cars from Molsheim, but opted for the 1.5 litre T51A voiturette version. This was surely a smart decision, as only one other type 51A was around at this point. The T51 was a great success for Bugatti, the order books were full, so there was no car available at short notice. Burggaller had already sold 4842, and so he missed the important races at the AVUS, the Eifelrennen, Lvov, and the Kesselberg and Lückendorf hillclimbs. On 11 July 1932 he finally took delivery of 51134, a car which already had some history. It had been a works car in 1931, then originally reserved for the millionaire Willy Escher of Switzerland for his brother-in-law Louis Braillard, but this order was cancelled and substituted with 51137. During the first months of 1932 it had been raced by William Grover, before finally being converted to type 51A specification for Burggaller. Obviously the factory was under time pressure, and so did a rather sloppy job. Only

Picture 22: 21 August 1932 - Schauinsland hillclimb, Freiburg (black forest) - E.G. Burggaller - T51A 51134, class win sports cars 1100-1500 cc.
(race number still from previous event)
a few days after delivery Burggaller took the car to the Nürburgring for the German Grand Prix, where he missed most of practice as the car refused to run properly. Problems also occurred in the race, culminating in a broken rear axle, hardly a good testimonial for a car sold by Bugatti as “new”.

Burggaller’s new car was the fastest and most powerful voiturette racing car in Germany, and he even often disguised it as a “sports car” by using the road equipment of his old 4842. He had few serious rivals during the 1932 season, and he finished a successful year with numerous class wins. Picture 22 shows him at the Schauinsland hillclimb near Freiburg; the car in the background is the T37A of Austrian Robert Mayer jun.

Picture 23: Burggaller with his T35B/51A monoplace at an unknown event. Published in "Das Auto" edition 5/1950 (retrospect Bugatti article). Original shape of frame and body are clearly visible.

Picture 24: Burggaller with 51134, now again with standard two-seater bodywork. 10 June 1934 - Felsberg hillclimb.
During the winter of 1932/33 Burggaller developed the car further by converting it into a monoplace. However, unlike the Steinweg single-seater this one retained its original frame and most parts of the bodywork, although the seat and steering wheel were now centrally mounted, and a headrest was fitted. Burggaller achieved many further successes in 1933, but competition had increased, notably from various Maseratis but also from Veyron’s works T51A. In 1934, after a second successive defeat by Veyron on his home track at AVUS in Berlin, a frustrated Burggaller returned the car to standard two-seater bodywork, in expectation of better results in the sports car category. Picture 24 shows him at the Felsberg hillclimb in June 1934. Behind 51134 one can spot the front wheel of Steinweg’s 4821, who was first starter in the 2 litre class.

Burggaller then was contracted by Auto Union as a works driver for 1935, and he sold the Bugatti to Rudolf Steinweg at the end of the 1934 season . Erwin Tragatsch wrote decades ago that Steinweg took over Burggaller’s T51A single-seater. I highly admire Tragatsch’s research work on Bugatti history, but he was wrong on this one. In fact these had been two completely different cars, and Steinweg was only interested in Burggaller’s engine. He put the 2 litre engine of 4821 into 51134 and sold the car to the Stolze brothers of Ennigerloh as T35C.

Picture 25: Rainy weather at the Eifelrennen on the Nürburgring, 16 June 1935
Source: www.bugattibook.com
I think the excursion to 51134 was necessary, as with the engine also the stamping “51134” was taken over. The attentive reader may recognize that the car now - see picture 25 -looks already very close to that at the beginning of this article. But which identity

Picture 26: Steinweg at the Schauinsland hillclimb on 1 Sep 1935. The car now has wire wheels with small brakes, and a short tail with small tank in order to save weight.
can we assign now to the car? What was left over of 4821? The engine is from 51134, the bodywork is mostly new and not factorymade; steering, brakes, exhaust, and radiator cowling are not original, and the frame is at least heavily modified if not completely from another car or even new. Today we would call this a “bitsa”, but for Steinweg it was simply a racing car, modified as per his requirements, and with only one function – to win races. He even built a second tail for hillclimbs, lighter and with a very small tank only, as picture 26 from the Schauinsland shows. The car is now running on wire wheels with rather small brakes.

Steinweg had a mixed season in 1935; there had been some class wins but also retirements, and it was obvious that the car was outdated now. Although Steinweg was a very good and experienced driver the competition from Maseratis and also ERAs was difficult to resist. For the very last race of the season he travelled to Budapest where the Guggerhegy (Guggerberg) hillclimb was held. On

Picture 27 & 28: The Steinweg monoplace after the fatal accident at Budapest, 2 November 1935. Surprisingly the damage to the car does not look very big. For unknown reasons the large tail has been mounted back to the car again.
Saturday before the practice session there was rain, and the road was still wet and slippery. At the point where today the Pasaréti Square is located the track went into a left uphill corner, at which Steinweg was too fast and skidded straight into a wall. He died instantly, it was the 2nd November of 1935.
Heber, Steinweg’s mechanic, took the car home to Munich, repaired and overhauled it, and offered it for sale on behalf of the widow. In “Motor & Sport“ vol. 6/1936, page 41, it was advertised „1,5 Ltr. Bugatti, 8-Zylind., Monoposto, siegreich in vielen internationalen Rennen, vollkommen überholt, mit Ersatzteilen zu verkaufen. Nur ernste Interessenten erfahren Näheres bei Heber, München, Heideckstr. 2 II Rckg”.

Picture 29: Ernst Troeltsch with the monoplace at the Schauinsland hillclimb, 30 August 1936.
Ernst Eberhard Dietrich-Troeltsch from Wildgutach in the Black Forest saw the advertisement and bought the car. Troeltsch was born in 1913, the son of the theologian and politician Ernst Troeltsch, the Dietrich part of his name stemming from his stepfather Hermann Robert Dietrich - another politician who eventually rose to the rank of Vice-Chancellor in the Weimar Republic. In August 1935 he bought a T37A which he ran at Schauinsland two weeks later where the inexperienced young man crashed it. He won his class at the Wachenburg hillclimb in May of the following year, but only due to lack of competition. For serious racing the four-cylinder Bugatti was outdated, so the Steinweg monoplace was a good solution for the amateur. Together with Josef Hummel (Amilcar C6) and Herbert Wimmer (Bugatti T35B 4948) he founded the “Süddeutsche Renngemeinschaft” (South

Picture 30: Troeltsch in 1937 with a new tail
German Racing Collective). Picture 29 shows Troeltsch at the Schauinsland in 1936, which was part of the German hillclimb championship. He finished 2nd in his class behind Reggie Tongue’s ERA. He participated in some other hillclimbs in southern Germany with mixed success.

Picture 31: 30 May 1937, AVUS-Rennen at Berlin. Troeltsch and his friends working on the T35C/51A Bugatti.
For 1937 the car received a new tail with a softer-shaped headrest (picture 30). Troeltsch entered the car for the voiturette race at the AVUS in May, which was rather tough considering the strong competition of Maseratis and ERAs. However, it is doubtful whether he really took the start, as he is not mentioned in the period race reports. I assume that the car didn’t survive the qualifying. Picture 31 was reportedly taken at the AVUS, with Troeltsch and two of his friends are working on the car. The wire wheels and the unusual front brakes can be spotted. He entered the Bugatti for his home race, the Freiburg Schauinsland hillclimb on August 1, but again was not able to take the start. 3 weeks later we see him at Berne for the voiturette support race to the Swiss Grand Prix where he finished no better than 8 th in the first elimination heat. It seems Troeltsch lost his enthusiasm then, as he left the SRG team, and sold the car to Leonhard Joa.

Picture 32: Leonard Joa with the "Steinweg Monoplace" at the Ratisbona hillclimb (near Kelheim, Bavaria), 4 September 1938.
Ernst Troeltsch raced again after the war with a Veritas RS. Together with his racing friends Paul Pietsch and Josef Hummel, in 1946 he founded a company which published the magazine “Das Auto” which later became “Auto Motor und Sport”, and today is Germany’s biggest automotive publication. He died 1956 at the age of only 42 of a heart attack.

Leonhard Joa was from Pirmasens and born in 1909. Not much is known about this amateur driver, as the period press was not very keen to report about backmarkers, especially when they raced foreign cars. At the Ratisbona climb in 1938 – see picture 32 - he is listed as winner of the 1.5 litre race car class, but he was the only starter. At the Dreifaltigkeitsberg hillclimb near Spaichingen he is reported as overall winner, but this was only a secondary local event. After only one year he bought a Maserati 6CM and sold the Bugatti to Fritz Georg Martin.

Picture 33: "Wiener Höhenstrassen-Rennen" at Grinzing-Kahlenberg near Vienna, 11 June 1939. Fritz Georg Martin with the monoplace returning from the finish back to the paddock.
Not much is known about Martin either, except that he was from Rottweil in southwest Germany. The only reported entry I have is the “Wiener HöhenstrassenRennen”, where he finished 2 nd in class behind Paul Pietsch’s Maserati. There may be other starts at less important events which have not found their way into the major motorsport magazines. On picture 33 Martin can be seen leading a group of cars downhill from the finish back to the paddock. F.G. Martin kept the Bugatti during the war.

On 21 July 1946 German motorsport was reborn when at Baiersbronn in the Black Forest the Ruhestein hillclimb was held. A fully private initiative which finally was able to convince the French administration to give permission. It was a relatively local event because most drivers from other zones either couldn’t get a travel permit or simply had no fuel. For Martin, who lived only 70 kms away, his entry of course was obligatory. It took him enormous efforts to get the car running again, as spares, tyres, and fuel were essentially unavailable, and even then only on the “black market”. Martin won the racing car class, but only because the other contenders either did not appear or simply didn’t finish.

Picture 34: F.G. Martin and the "Steinweg Monoplace" at the first postwar German race event, the Ruhestein hillclimb on 21 June 1946. - Source: "Ruhestein-Bergrennen 1946", published by Seegerpress
Martin also entered the car for the other 1946 race, the “Karlsruher Dreiecksrennen” in September, but no results are known.

Hans Georg Martin then sold the Bugatti monoplace to Fritz Gerster of Säckingen. He was a well-known figure in southwest Germany’s racing scene as he had a repair shop for sports and racing cars. His specialty had been Bugattis, and it is to Gerster’s merit that several racing Bugattis in that area had been kept raceworthy into the late 30’s and even 40’s. He entered the car for the 1948 and 1949 Eggberg hillclimbs, a track which was just around the corner from his shop. No further details are known, and also the active history of our “hero” is ending here. It is no surprise that the car finally ended with the Schlumpf brothers, because not only was Gerster known for his Bugatti reputation, but from Säckingen to Alsace it’s only a few kilometres.

Except for wheels, brakes, and shock absorbers the car today is completely identical with its last

Picture 35: Bugatti T51A monoplace at the Collection Schlumpf Mulhouse
known historic photo. It is not known whether these changes had been done by Gerster – who for sure had a large pile of spares – or by the Schlumpf workshop. And – last but not least – the car had been divested of its colour….!

In 1989 the book "500 voitures de rêve, Les Collections Complètes du Musée National de l'Automobile de Mulhouse (Collection Schlumpf)" was published by the museum. About this car it says "BUGATTI Monoplace G.P. - 1932, Type 51A - Châssis 37350 -Code 0507. N) du moteur d'origine 37350, modifié par l'usine en 1932 par adoption d'un moteur 8 cylindres 1500 cm3 2 ACT en remplacement du moteur 37A, 4 cylindres à compresseur. Voiture utilisée par W. Escher, Vevey (CH). La calandre est spéciale”. As far I know this wrong description is still official today. Other sources claim it’s the Burggaller monoplace based on his T37A 37350, or 51134, but I believe I have proven that this is also wrong. 37350 was indeed delivered to Germany, but nothing more is known about this car. However, it cannot be excluded that Steinweg used the frame of 37350 when he created his monoplace. Unfortunately the museum does not give any information about the origin of the “37350” identification, and it is also not possible to inspect the stampings or other details on the car.

So, the car may have lost its numerical identity during its long life, but nevertheless it is an important artifact of racing history. All the leading German Bugatti race drivers – Kimpel, Kappler, von Morgen, Leiningen, Burggaller, and Steinweg – are connected to this car in one way or another, and if all its victories were listed they might reach a hundred. And to honour this history there is only one way – paint it white with the name of its creator on the cockpit…

I would like to thank Dr. Susan Becker, Henning Volle, and Martin Walter, who allowed me to use photos from their archives which never had been published before. My special thanks goes to Lionel Decrey, who not only surprised me with some wonderful pictures, but also his profound knowledge of certain aspects of Bugatti history.

Thank you also to Richard Armstrong, who made some final improvements to my English.

Back to the Bugatti revue

Vive La Marque !!