There’s a problem with vintage motorcycles and cars: they’re too old and valuable. A vintage Bugatti, for example, is more expensive than even a limited-edition new one. Exclusivity may bring cachet, but it’s more than a little disheartening to budding enthusiasts to hear that the most-affordable Bugatti isn’t even a car. However, there are alternatives. Companies like Janus Motorcycles and Morgan have the look, albeit with some modern concessions. Pur Sang’s Bugattis, though, are full-on recreations.
The Pur Sang story
Although Pur Sang now has a headquarters in California, the company started in Argentina. The founder, Jorge Anadon, originally studied agriculture, Speedhunters reports. But nights working as a mechanic developed his passion for cars. Especially for pre-WWII cars, the old Alfa Romeos and Bugattis that raced in the first Grand Prix races.
Petrolicious reports that they were often being imported to Argentina in the 1920s and 30s, but parts scarcity meant people often had to adapt and repair them independently. Anadon tapped into that DIY approach and gathered like-minded artisans together to recreate those famous, and famously-expensive, machines.
Clients can commission various vintage cars, including Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, Mercedes and Bentleys. But the best-known, and most popular, are the Pur Sang Bugattis.
Pur Sang’s Bugattis
‘Pur Sang’ is actually a term thrown around by Ettore himself, reports Forbes. It’s French for ‘pure-blood’, but it’s usually used to describe thoroughbred horses. And it was Ettore’s thoroughbred racers, especially the famous Type 35, that inspired Anadon, and the company’s US director John Bothwell, in the first place.
Like the Tempore Jaguar D-Type we featured, Pur Sang’s Bugattis weren’t made by Bugatti. But, as The Drive, Jay Leno, and Autoweek explain, these Type 35s are replicas in the purest sense of the word. Apart from the alloy wheels (another Ettore creation), which are CNC-machined, it’s all made the way the French craftsmen would’ve made them in the 1920s and 30s.
The aluminum body panels are hand-shaped, as is every single screw. The brakes use the original mechanical drum design, not just for authenticity, but because they really are that good. The transmission is a four-speed, but mounted outside the car, with no synchromesh, and an upside-down pattern. But it shifts with almost no gear grind.
Even the engine is a faithful recreation of the original Bugatti Type 35’s. Road & Track reports it’s a 2.3-liter supercharged inline-8, making close to 100 hp. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but the car only weighs 1650 lbs.
Pur Sang retains everything about the original design, down to the roller bearing crank, cylinder firing order, and leather belts. Though, if customers desire, the Pur Sang Bugatti can get a less-maintenance-intense plain-bearing crank and more-powerful firing order. But even the ‘standard’ engine is robust-enough for daily-driving. Bothwell drove his personal Type 35 replica 4,200 miles from California to New York, and all it needed was an oil change. He even drives it on track, reports Bloomberg.
Is this replica worth the price?
With prices hovering around $250k, Pur Sang’s Bugattis aren’t exactly cheap. And some organizations, Hagerty reports, don’t consider them ‘real’ Bugattis. Then again, the American Bugatti Club only lets Bugattis race in its events if “3 out of 5 major components—front axle, engine, transmission, differential, and body—have original serial numbers.” So, even if you own a Bugatti made in France in the 30s, some might still turn their noses up at it.
But Bothwell and Anadon see Pur Sang as a way to get younger people interested in vintage cars. Considering the cheapest pre-war cars cost millions, $250k is a bargain. And even people who own Bugattis of that vintage drive Pur Sangs: Jay Leno owns two.
‘Drive’ is the keyword here. A Pur Sang Bugatti may not be a ‘real’ Bugatti, but it looks, sounds, and drives like the real deal because it was made like the original. But it’s not priced like a priceless heirloom or painting, to be locked in a storage space. These recreations are meant to race—like Ettore intended.
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