Prescott at 80 The Bugattis and a Brabham-lotus that stood out at the hill climb’s big anniversary celebration weekend
Gallic tribute to 80 years of Gloucestershire hill climbing
Aspectacular field of Bugattis shunned Goodwood this year for Prescott’s 80th anniversary celebrations. The hill climb circuit opened in 1938 and hosted many of the marque’s most significant achievements on British soil.
Bugatti Type 37
Robs Lamplough was campaigning this ex-sir Malcolm Campbell Type 37 for the first time since its restoration. ‘It’s probably the most documented Type 37 of all – one owner had it for 57 years, followed by his mechanic who imported it to Tasmania in pieces along with his house furniture to avoid import tax.
‘Campbell ordered three Type 37s, delivered to his dealership in April 1936. He kept one for himself and sold the others, including this one which went to WB ‘Bummer’ Scott, who ran it at Brooklands with his wife Jill.
‘The owner after him, Ronald Maccloedcarey, had it until 1940 and developed it further for racing, with twin carburettors, magneto, competition oil pump and a fly-off handbrake for hill climbing at Shelsley Walsh. The next owner, Dudley Gahagan, had it from 1940 to 1997 and bequeathed it to his mechanic, Tim Whitely.
‘I bought it just before Christmas, and Gentry Restorations in Oxfordshire has rebuilt it. They’ve had to remake all the engine’s moving parts, but managed to retain Bugatti’s castings. When it came over from Tasmania, the conrods were from a Holden diesel tractor, and the cylinder block was twisted because of a replacement iron bottom end that had warped. Fitting the new crankshaft bearings was largely guesswork!’
Phil Chatterton presented this Brabham for the first time at Prescott having restored it himself in his garage. ‘Chris Williams ran it in the European Formula 3 Championship in 1966-67, winning at Goodwood, Monza and Dijon,’ said Chatterton. ‘Its paperwork includes letters from Jack Brabham saying things like “put these parts on for Monza.”
‘Sadly, Williams was killed in a race in 1968 and the car was just slung in a shed. It ended up at Retro Track & Air, where the chassis was sorted, but it was fitted with a 1.0-litre ‘screamer’ engine and different bodywork, crashed at Silverstone, and put back in a shed again.
‘I’ve restored it to its original specification, with a Lotus twin-cam. However, I found a photo of it being used at a Formula 2 race at Rouen with a very rare Cosworth SCA engine in the back. The driver’s not in the photo but he’s left his helmet on the bodywork – we’re still trying to identify him and unlock that part of its history.’
Bugatti Type 54 by Uhlik
This stunning Bugatti came to Prescott – and the UK for the first time – courtesy of Peter Mullin. It wears a body by Prague coachbuilder Uhlik, which originally replaced Grand Prix coachwork on a Type 54 that was fatally crashed by the Czech Prince Lobkowicz at Avus in April 1932. His friend Zdenik Pohl commissioned the bodywork, which was removed by a later American owner so the original chassis could be returned to racing use. It was transferred to another Type 54 chassis by another Californian owner, Skip Berg, before being acquired by Peter Mullin. It won Best in Class at the 1991 Pebble Beach Concours d’elegance.
Ex-sir Malcolm Campbell Bugatti Type 37 predates the Prescott Hill Climb by two years
Brabham BT18 was home-restored
Uhlik-bodied Bugatti Type 54