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'Historic' Bugatti Special
Here is a rare and yet affordable opportunity to rebuild a historic and well-documented pre-war Bugatti-Ford Special which was highly competitive in
its day and will be again when completed.
The story of the USR Bugatti-Ford Special begins in earnest in Southern Ireland 1934 when Redmond Gallagher acquired a 1925 Bugatti Type 35 with terminal engine damage. He decided to install a Ford Flathead V8 and gearbox and to replace the T35 shell with a new body inspired by an A-Type ERA. There is an archive photo of the newly built Special, No. 24, with its proud creator Remond Gallagher, and the car appears again on the starting grid at Phoenix Park, Dublin, with Gallagher at the wheel, possibly in the same year. Gallagher went onto to record numerous wins, in what became known as the USR (Urney Special Racer) so named as its owner was also managing director of the Urney Chocolate Company. In Green Dust - Ireland's Unique Motor Racing History 1900-1939, author Brendan Lynch records how in the 1936 Leinster Race this extremely fast and agile little car 'smote Templeogue Bridge... with sad results for the hapless (and now priceless) chassis'; an accident which probably led Gallagher to graft giant Talbot drums onto the original Bugatti back plates; and this is exactly how the brakes appear today.
Pre-war the car achieved considerable success and was a regular fixture at races and hlllclimbs, driven by Gallagher and then later Bill McQuillan who acquired the car in 1937 and a year later set a record time of 43.48s at the Kilternam Hillclimb, breaking Gallagher's record run at the 1936 event.
In post war racing the USR Bugatti Ford Special was no less successful winning its maiden race and then the 1951 Sexton Trophy in the hands of new owner Irwin Catherwood. By now referred to as 'a battle scarred warrior' and an 'almost historic machine' by Ireland's Motoring Life, it narrowly missed winning The Wakefield Trophy Meeting in Curragh, pipped to the post by none other Stirling Moss. However Catherwood did force Duncan Hamilton into third place in a race which included Mike Hawthorn and Roy Salvatori.
In the 1990s this time-warp machine resurfaced at the sale of Irish collector Hammy Harkness and once sold was thereafter parted from its chassis in order that the original Bugatti - from which it evolved - could be rebuilt. But such is the historical significance of the car, in its own right, as a racing Special, the VSCC has given the owner a letter of support, indicating its acceptance of the car as a PVT Special once rebuilt. This comprehensive kit of parts comprises the original engine, gearbox, brakes, fuel tank, tail section, seat and a myriad of other original components, and a front axle (formerly fitted to Sir Malcolm Campbell's T35A) giving the finished car its 3/5 VSCC eligibility and leaving the next owner with a relatively small shopping list of parts which can be sourced from new.
This represents a rare and affordable opportunity to rebuild what was a very successful car in its day, and one that will be highly competitive again; a fact supported by the recent successes enjoyed by Ford V-8 powered machines since the VSCC's acceptance of the cars a few years ago.