A virtual magazine for a true passion!

Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 15, Issue 2

The old one - a Bugatti as a driving school car

Bugatti Type 37 in original condition - Chassis 37234

This type 37 experienced really a lot: First as a successful racing car in Bavarian possession, after the war as a driving school car in Thuringen. Now the Bugatti returned to the Bavarian mountains.

Whether on the parking lot before a tool shop, at a beer garden or during an old timer meeting, the car draws attention.

Almost as rare as the blue Mauritius: A Bugatti type 37 in original condition

It is less the astonishment that it is a racing car - which is confirmed by the tones from the exhaust pipe -, but the condition of the classic car, which surprises people.

“What is that?” many viewers asked themselves in view of the body that looks very neglected: “A genuine Bugatti is much too valuable, nobody would let it decay in such a way! It can't be a plastic kit car either, that can't be made like this.”

The answer lies in the history of this Bugatti type 37 with the chassis number 37234. Martin Strohhammer knew the car for a long time, before he could acquire it finally in 2001. The 50-year old mechanic and radiator builder has been known for many years in Bugatti circles and is in demand for his craft. he had always pointed out that this Bugatti still really shows its history and should remain also like this.

10,400 Reichsmark - the four cylinder Bugatti was a special offer in 1925

With the type 37 Ettore Bugatti presented in 1925 a new four-cylinder sports car as a successor of the Brescia models. The engine was a new construction, right-angled of appearance with flat surfaces like the eight-in-line type 35 and likewise with three valves per cylinder, opened by an overhead camshaft. The crankshaft of the 1.5 litre four-cylinder has plain bearings instead of the ball bearings as with the two-litre eight-cylinder.

The attractive, vary narrow Grand Prix body of the two-seater flows from the radiator in horseshoe form to the pointed tail, however the type 37 was fitted with wire wheels instead of the light alloy wheels supplied with the type 35. The lighting system which can be easily dismantled as well as a speedometer remained the only standard concessions to road use, because just like the eight-cylinders the Bugatti type 37 was meant as a sports car. With 10,400 Reichsmark it was priced well under the eight-cylinder type 35, for which 25,400 Marks were needed.

The Bugatti type 37 wins class victory at the Salzbergrennen

On 28 January 1927 the car with the number 37234 was finished in Molsheim, seven days later arrived it by rail in Munich at the company Omnia-Kraftfahrzeug-Handels GmbH. As an importer of the sports cars from Alsace this enterprise had been able to sell nine type 35 and six type 37 Bugattis since 1925. There were also in Southern Germany some wealthy customers, who used these cars in the ever increasing number of sports events. Among them was the Munich banker of the Omnia company, Heinrich Eckert, who used the freshly delivered four-cylinder despite winter conditions a lot to drive it in, because he was preparing for a big adventure.

The Bugatti experienced its first race on 19 and 20 February during the traditional ADAC winter trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In April Heinrich Eckert then went with necessarily little luggage together with the mechanic Hans Häusler from Baierbrunn in the Bugatti on a large trip to Sicily. The type 37 had gotten over its typical Bugatti blue a white color coat, because one wanted to race the Targa Florio in the German racing colors.

After five rounds and 540 kilometers on the dirt roads in the hilly country, Eckert/Häusler came at the finish in seventh place, behind the works racing cars of Bugatti, Maserati and Peugeot. This result was a large personal success and was published a lot in the domestic press. Heinrich Eckert used his Bugatti aftrewards mostly in private trips, only at the Salzbergrennen (Rossfeld) in Berchtesgaden in September 1927 he appeared at the start and won again a class victory.

During the winter trip in Garmisch was Heinrich Eckert in 1928 again at the start, and won the 1500 cc racing car class in the distance trip, ice race and hillclimb at the Eibsee. His friend Hans Häusler took the Bugatti to the Kesselbergrennenand won third in class that same year.

The Bugatti type 37 changes owner For a box of beer

In 1929 the Bugatti was not used in any sport events. The following year Hans Ollendorf bought the car. He had achieved some successes with a Salmson during its study in Munich already in 1929. His father was director of the Agfa works in Wolfen and might have paid for the Bugatti. The first start was at the Kesselberg resulting again in victory in the 1.500 sports car class, the Eifel running ended with the same result.

In the 1931 season Hans Ollendorf started in the racing car class, he had however not - as was written later - converted the car to a type 37A , or mounted a compressor on car number 37234. Further class victories were won however at the Eibsee, in Baden-Baden, Hohensyburg, Thiersee and Kesselberg, as well as a second place in Freiburg and fifth at Avus. In 1932 he started the season at the Eifelrennen, where he after the deadly training accident of his friend Hans-Joachim von Morgen did not start and said good-bye to racing.

Hans Simons of Berlin bought the Bugatti 37 to add to the two cars of the same type he already owned, and sold it soon after. At the GP of Germany on 17 July 1932 Karl Wagner - likewise from Berlin - drove the ex-Ollendorf-Bugatti to place five in the 1500 cc class. This remained the only reported appearance of the new owner and at the same time the last race of Bugatti chassis 37234.

The Bugatti type 37 is converted to a BMW - six cylinder

In 1948 in Thüringen the car received, after its Munich number IIA-3926 and the Berlin license IA-42314 its third registration. Into the new Kfz letter it was registered with a two-litre six cylinder BMW 319. The body had received some time fore that a red primer and a dark-blue repaint. The new licese plate however was painted on after a new, clearer paincoat. On agreen primer the now still present brighter finish coating was painted and also the new windshield, which still remains, was installed.

In 1954 the Bugatti was standing around on a sports club area as a driving school exercise car, it changed owner for a box of beer. This owner kept the car for 40 years, until an enthusiast discovered and bought the type 37. With a new engine block and a new crankshaft a replacement for the lost original engine number 141 was made. The earlier history of the car was not at all known the new owner at this time. Martin Strohhammer drew his attention to this history, and in return he was promised that in case of a sale he would be the first to beinformed. This happened in 2001.

The Bugatti type 37 proves to be without problems in everyday use

The chassis of this type 37 was found to be in an amazingly good condition : axles, tie rods, joints - all original and without considerable wear. In the 30s the necessary high maintenance costs had kept the car in good condition, afterwards it seems not to have been used much.

With Martin and Inge Strohhammer on board the Bugatti however now has run substantially more than ever before. Over 30,000 kilometers were added. Apart from small problems, that could all be solved on the trip, there were no mechanical mishaps - neither in the summer everyday use nor on a tour to the Garda lake over the Brennerpass in winter.

Naturally the Strohhammers had to go with their historical Bugatti to the original scenes. Thus it saw the Targa Florio track in Sicily in 2004 as well as in the year after the Kesselbergrennen. There number 37234 will start on the 15th of May for the fifth time in 82 years.

From: www.motor-klassik.de - Translated from German

Back to the Bugatti revue

Vive La Marque !!