Opens 5mm before top dead centre…

Posted: July 9, 2021 in Fotos, Obscurities
(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

I guess Bugatti were one of the first, if not the first to sell customer racing cars in large numbers to those lucky enough to afford them.

So you would expect their communication with clients to have been pretty good.

This January 13, 1931 letter, on the key operational specifications of a Grand Prix Bugatti Type 37, is from Bugatti’s UK agent, Sorel, to Australian customer, Harold Drake Richmond, a regular in the Phillip Island AGP years. His best placing was second in the subject car, in 1930 and 1933, and third in 1931- chassis 37164.

“I’ve seen a lot of these types of letters from Bugatti to their customers,” Bugatti racer/historian Bob King commented.

I love this type of period communication; both the content itself and the formality of the language of the day.

Harold Drake Richmond in his Bugatti Type 37 during a snowy Alpine Trial in the Victorian high country, perhaps November 1930 (VSCC Vic Collection)

This material comes from the Arthur Terdich Collection, part of the Vintage Sports Car Club of Victoria Collection. Terdich was the winner of the 1929 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, prominent local businessman and early Melbourne motoring leader.

Many thanks to me’ mates Bob King and Tony Johns for creating the opportunity to access material seen by few, and to Ashley Tracey, the VSCC librarian, for being so kind with his time to allow Bob and I to pick the eyes out of the content. Over time we will share the material.

All new Bugatti’s delivered to Australia passed through the hands of Sorel, Bugatti’s UK agents. Not necessarily physically – that is delivered to the UK before on-shipment to the colonies – but legally. Why this was so is still a mystery to King, but doubtless was a technique to avoid the worst ravages of the fiscal-fiend (tax office) in France and/or Australia.


(VSCC Vic Collection)


Bob King, Tony Johns, Ash Tracey and the VSCC Victoria


  1. Michael Anderson says:

    Fantastic material: how wonderful to be able to access and reprint it! There are some great photos of Arthur Terdich and his wife contesting various runs and hill-climbs during the 1930s in his Brescia Bugatti, unwittingly laying the foundations of a dynastic run of Bugatti owners.

  2. robert king says:


    The letter from Sorel, London is dated 10/1/31 and received by Amalgamated Wireless at Australia House on the Strand on 12/1/31. Post as it should be. But why AWA? I believe Harold Drake-Richmond was an Englishman seconded to Australia as an employee of AWA. I guess he would have receved his reply in Melbourne the same day as AWA – almost as fast as email.

  3. Peter Charlap says:

    Interesting that the ad for the types 38, 40, etc. has a photograph of a type 30.

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