(J Krajancich Collection)

Duncan Ord completes a donut out front of a Shell Servo in suburban Perth, date and place unknown…

I laughed at the sight of this oh-so-pedigreed racer being subjected to useage more often applied to ‘Humpy’ Holdens of the day!

This 3.3-litre, DOHC, straight-eight Bugatti T57T #57264 was first raced by Earl Howe in the 1935 Ulster Tourist Trophy later passing into the hands of Pierre Levegh who contested the 1937 GP des Frontieres at Chimay amongst other races. It, perhaps, passed through Jean-Pierre Wimille’s hands before being sold to visiting Perth racer Duncan Ord in the UK. He shipped it home, first racing it at Pingelly, Western Australia in January 1939, where it remained a pillar of the local scene into the dawn of the swinging-sixties.

Among sports-racing Bugattis, the Type 57 is one of the most illustrious. Chassis 57264 is a Type 57 Tourist Trophy Torpedo, originally designated chassis 57222, this was later changed by the factory. The car is unusual in that despite a racing history of over thirty years it retains its original chassis largely intact, and original crankcase, gear-box and front and rear axles as well as other less critical components.

Detailed research by foremost French Bugatti authority Pierre Yves Laugier has confirmed this machines history, “The first mention of the car is in the August 1935 list of bodywork at the Bugatti factory which contains the entry ‘2 Voitures Course 24 Heures, moteurs 223 et 224’. While no chassis serial numbers were recorded for these two cars, on August 29 that year – in the factory’s list of cars sold – the chassis serial number 57222 Torpedo Tourist Trophy with motor number 224 is mentioned. Francis, Earl Howe, drove Bugatti Type 57 TT, engine 224, to finish third in the Ulster TT race, at Ards, Ulster (as below) on September 7, 1935.”

(MotorSport Images)
Earl Howe beside his trusty steed at Ards before the off (MotorSport Images)

In its report of the race MotorSport said, “The Bugattis driven by Lord Howe and the Hon. Brian Lewis were models of light construction with their duralumin shell bodies, and weighed only 26 cwt, with driver, fuel and water. Georges de Ram shock absorbers were used and the engines were said to develop over 160hp at 5,500rpm, which sounds rather fantastic. At any rate the compression ratio was well over 8 to 1 thanks to the efficient shape of the twin (sic) combustion chambers. Lord Howe’s car did close on 120mph while Lewis’s car was somewhat slower….”.

During the first practice day Francis, Earl Howe, had in fact made fastest lap time in 10 minutes 16 seconds which was some six seconds faster than his RAC handicap time. During the race Brian Lewis – the younger man and a faster driver than Howe – led the race, before his Bugatti developed clutch slip due to an oil leak from the gearbox. This left Howe leading, only to make an immediate refuelling stop. He subsequently fought his way back onto the leader board, MotorSport commenting “Howe had been making splendid progress on the Bugatti, and on the 33rd lap caught the two Aston Martins to secure third place…” – behind winner Freddie Dixon’s fleet Riley and Eddie Hall’s very special 3.6-litre Bentley.

By January 1936, the car was listed for sale with dealer Dominique Lamberjack back in Paris at 60,0000 Francs. The car was also referred to in period as chassis serial 57264/moteur 224 Torpedo TT as the factory had re-allocated serial 57222 to a new Competition Torpedo with its gondola shaped Type 57S chassis.

57264 was possibly entered at Le Mans in 1936 but the event was cancelled due to the political unrest throughout France. On June 11, 1936 the car was co-driven by Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Bugatti company salesman Roger Labric in the Spa 24-Hours. Labric, a friend of Bugatti, managed the marque’s showroom on the Avenue Montaigne, Paris. Unfortunately he overshot at the Stavelot Hairpin and burst the car’s radiator. When repaired it was offered for sale at the Avenue Montaigne showroom.

The car pictured in France during Pierre Levegh’s ownership (Bonhams Collection)

It found a buyer on April 8, 1937 in talented French gentleman/sportsman – talented cyclist, skier, ice hockey and tennis player – owner/driver Pierre Bouillin. Born in Paris on December 22, 1905, he was the son of an antiques dealer and had become the director of a brush factory in Trie Châ-teau in the Oise region. The Type 57 was his first Bugatti.

Bouillin idolized his uncle – Alfred Velghe – a pre-war pioneer racing driver. Bouillin shuffled the letters of that surname to adopt the anagram nom de guerre ‘Levegh’ for his racing exploits.

Pierre became obsessed with winning Le Mans and in 1952 came close – over-revving his Talbot-Lago and blowing the engine after 23 hours of a solo drive, while well-established in a probably uncatchable lead. His misfortune gifted the race to the works Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings which finished first and second. When Mercedes returned to Le Mans with a team of 300SLRs in 1955 they invited 49 year old Levegh to drive for them. It aboard an SLR that he innocently became involved in the terrible collision which claimed the lives of over 80 spectators, in addition to the luckless Bouillin himself.

57264 perhaps at Miramas, Marseilles with Levegh in June 1937 (Bonhams Collection)

In happier times during 1937 he paid 32,500 Francs in instalments to purchase 57264 for his competition debut. On May 15, 1937, he raced the T57 in the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay, Belgium finishing third, running sans mudguards. On June 6 he contested the Marseilles 3-Hours, finishing eighth, then on September 19 at Montlhery, Levegh entered the the Autumn Cup sports car race, the machine by then fitted with larger Delahaye-style mudguards, but failed to finish.

Pierre then advertised the car for sale in the L’Auto March 15,1938 issue, describing it as a “Type 57, unique car, capable of 190km/h. Write to owner at 54 Avenue de Choisy”.The car was spotted at Brooklands during that period and clocked at 192km/h. It had already been modified with the addition of a 40-gallon riveted aluminium fuel tank behind the driver’s seat, different doors, an additional oil cooler ahead of the radiator and further modified mudguards. It also featured cable-adjustable Repesseau shock absorbers.’

Contemporary references are confusing but it’s possible Levegh sold it to French Ace Jean-Pierre Wimille who used it as his roadie before passing it on to an unknown purchaser, who shipped it to Brooklands, but died before he could compete there. It then passed to London based sports car specialist J.H. Bartlett who advertised it in the May 1938 issue of Speed, “Bugatti special 3.3-litre 120 m.p.h. competition 2 seater, fitted late series 57S engine, special electron body, special streamlined wings, spare tanks, etc…£450.” It was acquired by visiting Australian racer Duncan Ord.

Ord, Pingelly Speed Classic, on the cars race debut in Australia, January 30, 1939 (J Krajancich Collection)
Another Pingelly shot, year unknown, note the oil cooler up-front (K Devine Collection)

On arrival in Australia the car was unloaded from the ship at Fremantle where it created considerable local interest as a contemporary machine described in the press as a “1934 Le Mans model two-seater fitted with long range 60 gallon fuel tanks and had been refurbished at Molsheim before being clocked at 120 mph at Brooklands.”

Ord entered the Great Southern Speed Classic at Pingelly on 30 January, no doubt the step up in performance of the Bugatti compared to the P-Type MG he started racing in 1936 was deeply impressive. Ord’s handling of the car was noted as being particularly good but he was slowed by clutch troubles and a spin on the last lap which dropped him to fourth.

Interestingly this handicap race was won by the supercharged MG TA Spl driven by the very young Alan Tomlinson. On 2 January 1939, three weeks before, ‘The Three Kids from Perth’ (Tomlinson, Minder- Bill Smallwood, Manager- Clem Dwyer both of these latter fellows no slouches as drivers themselves) won a famous Australian Grand Prix victory on the daunting Lobethal which confounds historians to this day. Confounds in the sense that the sustained speed of the little MG beat some serious heavy-metal including the Jano Alfas of Alf Barrett, Jack Saywell and John Crouch, the Delahaye 135CS of John Snow and others on a track regarded as Australia’s greatest ever motor racing challenge.

The racing fraternity in Western Australia had a great relationship with the authorities which was reflected in a vast number of Round The Houses racing on closed public roads of small towns they secured over many decades, the first of which was at Albany in 1936.

The venues were away from Perth, to its south east was Pingelly 150km away, and Cannington 10km. Narrogin was-is 200km to the north east, Goomalling 130 km and Dowerin 160km. Byford Hillclimb was 45km south of Perth whereas Albany was a very long tow, 420km south to the edge of the continent’s coast. Busselton is 225km ‘down south’ as the Perthies say, too, on a magic stretch of coast. Bunbury was and is an important port on the west coast, it too is south of Perth, 175km from the state capital. This is by no means a complete list, I’ve just covered the towns in which the Bugatti raced.

Duncan Ord pressing on, place and date unknown (J Krajancich Collection)
Ord again at Pingelly, uncertain of the year – he raced there from 1939-41 carrying #9 on each occasion – at the Review Street corner (K Devine Collection)

Pre-War the West Australians did more racing miles than racers in any other state on tar or bitumen. On the odd occasion they competed on the east coast – a cut-lunch and a camel ride away – given the transport network and roads of the day, the best of them could be prodigiously fast, Alan Tomlinson being the prime example.

As the war clouds gathered in Europe Ord raced the car in the June Dowerin winter meeting, finishing second in the open championship to Jack Nelson’s Ballot Ford V8 Spl. A fortnight later he was at Cannington for the Quarter Mile Trials where the Bug did a 17.2 second standing quarter and a flying quarter mile pass at 94.73 mph. He was second in each event again to Nelson’s Ballot which achieved 16.5/104.64 mph.

Whilst Australia was at war in 1940, Ord competed three times for a second place to Bob Lee’s Riley in the (handicap) Great Southern Speed Classic at Pingelly, and second in the Albany Tourist Trophy. Of his performances Bob King reported in his ‘Bugattis of Australasia’ that Ord “thrilled many thousands of spectators at Albany and Pingelly by the skilful and dashing manner in which he was handling the big, blue Bugatti. Ord demonstrated at Albany this year when he broke the course record that he had mastered the car.”

Ord, Patriotic Grand Prix, Applecross 1940. What was that about Motor Racing is Dangerous bit on the entry-ticket?! (P Partridge Collection)
Jack Nelson, White Mouse Ford 10 Spl from Duncan Ord, Bugatti T57, Applecross 1940 (K Devine Collection)

Let’s not forget the Patriotic Grand Prix, a four event race meeting held through the then outer suburban streets of Applecross 8km from Perth’s CBD to raise money for various charities which looked after returned serviceman and their families.

Between 20,000 and 40,000 spectators turned up, appropriately on Armistice Day, November 11, and paid a shilling to enter with a program a further sixpence. The feature event was a handicap for racing cars and won by Harley Hammond’s Marquette Spl with the big Bug setting a lap record but retiring with engine trouble. “Oddly one race was held for cars fitted with gas producers, perhaps as a sop to those who felt motor racing was wasteful during a war,” Bob King wrote.

While in his ownership Ord fitted hydraulic brakes and moved the radiator forward to lower the bodywork, perhaps improving cooling, exactly when these changes were made is unclear.

Ord was first in the January 1941 Great Southern Speed Classic 5 lap scratch race at Pingelly before laying the car up for the balance of the war years. This carnival was literally the last race meeting in Australia until the conflict ended.

Victory shot at Pingelly in 1940. Duncan Ord, third at left, Bob Lee (Riley Brooklands) the winner in the middle and second placed Bill Smallwood (MG TA) at right (K Devine Collection)
Duncan Ord – with goggles around his neck in the middle of the group of three – lines the T57T for a standing-quarter competition behind the very neat MG TA Spl of Norm Kestrel, at Nicholson Road, Forrestdale in 1946 (MG Specials – Aust – Pre-War and T Type Collection)

The Bunbury Flying 50 in November 1946 was Duncan’s first competitive post-war run, perhaps the big beast was unhappy about being disturbed after such a long slumber as it failed to finish. In January 1947 the WA Speed Championships were run on the RAAF Airfield at Caversham – a venue close to Perth which remained the home of motor racing in WA until the late-sixties – when Wanneroo Park was built. Ord was second in the 50 Mile Handicap,

He returned twelve months later and shared the car with prospective purchaser, South Australian Durrie Turner, who had placed a deposit on it pending a race in it. Fuel feed problems prevented Turner taking the start in his event with Ord then winning a 6 mile scratch. In the Airforce Trophy 25 lapper, Turner broke the lap record, but pitted with an overheating engine. Ord took over but on the following lap left the road, travelling through the boonies at great speed, before coming to rest too badly damaged to continue. The corner was subsequently known as ‘Bugatti Corner’!, to add to Ord’s woes Turner didn’t proceed the purchase.

AD ‘Durrie’ Turner is flagged away in the 25 lap Air Force Trophy handicap, Caversham on 13 March, 1948 (T Walker Collection)

Six years elapsed before the car reappeared at the Great Southern Flying 50 at Narrogin in March 1954 when it was driven by MG and Morgan driver and photographer David Van Dal to eighth, and last place last in a 3 lap scratch. He didn’t race in the feature won by Sid Taylor’s TS Special so perhaps had dramas in the earlier race. I’m not sure who owned the car by this stage, it’s said David Van Dal, but Phil Hind raced the Bug to twelfth in a preliminary and a DNF in the June 1954 Goomalling Classic.

In October Hind contested the Byford Hillclimb on the south-eastern Perth fringe but was unplaced. In this period Van Dal raced the BRM Morgan. It’s said at some time that Phil Hind bought the car, and in an effort to keep it competitive modified the chassis by shortening it 2 feet 6 inches between the rear kick-up and the cockpit. In addition, the original body was discarded and replaced by a contemporary style slender monoposto racing version, coil-springs were fitted at the front.

The T57 returned to Byford hill in October 1956 this time raced by R Annear to equal fourth place, or was it V Smith racing the car?

(K Devine Collection)
T57T, Busselton in ‘monoposto’ form 1957, David Van Dal up (B King Collection)

By 1957 the Bugatti was back in David Van Dal’s hands, running in the Busselton Derby at the towns airstrip in January 1957, prior to the ’57 Australian Grand Prix held at Caversham in March. He was fourth in a 5 lap racing car scratch but failed to finish the Busselton Derby.

In a full field of the best cars of the day at Caversham for the AGP – Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, Stan Jones Maserati 250F, Len Lukey’s and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Bristols, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T41 Climax and many others – the monoposto Bugatti was an also-ran but that was hardly the point, Van Dal was out there competing.

He shared the drive on an excruciatingly hot Perth summers day with John Cummins, a Sydney racer/mechanic/raconteur and fellow Bugatti driver, Cummins usually raced a Bugatti T37A Holden. The pair didn’t finish the race won in somewhat controversial circumstances by Davison who shared his car with fellow Melbourne driver/Holden Dealer Bill Patterson, whereas burly, rough and tough Stan Jones raced solo, and in the minds of some, won in disputes over lap counts. It was not the first time this occurred at elite level, nor the last!

Again, the ownership of the car isn’t clear throughout this period with Don Hall racing it in the state championships at Caversham in September, he was unplaced in the 7 lap scratch. David Van Dal raced a Morgan at the state championship meeting. Is it the case that David owned it from 1954 with others also having a race during this continuing period of ownership?

The Type 57T again in monoposto form, circa 1956 (K Devine Collection)
(K Devine Collection)

In 1958 Van Dal sold it to Jim Krajancich, a Perth motor engineer. He had spotted 57264 advertised for £600 in Australian Motor Sport and offered Van Dal £400 payable in instalments. Van Dal had already been offered £400 by Melbourne-based Bugatti Type 51 owner Peter Menere, but since this would cost him a good deal more in transport he accepted Jim’s offer.

Krajancich then entered the car in the WA State Championships at Caversham in September 1958. He was sixth in both the first and second heats and DNF the third heat, a 10 lap race. N Rossiter won all three events in the TS Special with John Cummins second in the BRM Morgan raced previously by Van Dal.

The old beast’s final race before a very long hibernation was the Christmas Cup meeting at Caversham on November 22, 1958. In an ignominious end to such a long period of racing in Europe and Australia Jim was unplaced in the 5 lap scratch and the 15 lap Chrismas Cup, no doubt the machine needed a major ‘pull through’!

Jim decided to rebuild it in Maserati 300S style, but time passed and upon marriage in 1962, Bugatti T57T 57264 was mothballed as he bought it.


Bonhams picks up the story “Restoration work to original 1935 form finally commenced in 1973 and the work continued until 2010, Krajancich completing almost all the work himself. This included re-lengthening the chassis using works T57 drawings and painstakingly re-making the body and road equipment from archive photos. The brakes were re-converted to mechanical operation, the original radiator was acquired from Van Dal while the car’s original starter motor, dynamo and radiator shutters were reacquired from Ord. The radiator shell came via Wolf Zeuner and had come from Australia, it is in fact believed to be the car’s original. Original Type 57 rear springs came from Barry Swann in Malaysia, replacement original cylinder block and crankshaft were also sourced from Malaysia (the cars originals included with sale of the car), the spring hangers came from Zeuner, while the rear torque arm is old stock Molsheim spares.

“Original pedal pads were obtained from Henry Posner, and when Gavin Sandford-Morgan re-bodied the sister 57627 he sold numerous original parts to Krajancich including the fuel tank, cast aluminium dashboard brackets and bonnet catches. The Repesseau adjustable friction shock absorbers now fitted at the rear were the fronts when the car arrived in Australia in 1938, the vendor having fitted original de Ram dampers on the front (sold to Krajancich by Bob King who obtained the ‘very heavy!’ units ex-Lex Davison’s Alfa Romeo P3 from Diana Davison) as fitted for the 1935 TT.”


The only replica mechanical parts used in 57264’s rebuild are the rear-brake back plates, the brake cross shafts and the dashboard instruments while original parts being sold with the car but not used in the rebuild include gearbox internals, crankshaft, cylinder block, steering wheel, steering drag link, oil pump, Stromberg carburettor – two SUs are mounted presently on the original manifold – while in addition there is a spare radiator ex-Sandford-Morgan.”

Bugatti authority Pierre Yves Laugier has personally inspected the car, “From this we can confirm correct number stampings identify the engine crankcase, gearbox, chassis, front and back axles as being original to this car.”



‘Bugattis in Australasia’ Bob King, MotorSport Images, Bonhams sale description/car history, Terry Walker Collection, Jim Krajancich Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Peter Partridge Collection


(K Devine Collection)

Fantastic sharp shot of Duncan Ord at Pingelly in 1940.


Huge crowd awaits the start of the Patriotic Grand Prix at Applecross in 1940. Clem Dwyer’s very successful Plymouth Special in front of Duncan’s T57T.

(J Krajancich Collection)

No address or date for this shot but it’s still in Duncan Ord’s ownership, given the presence of #9, but looking decidedly tatty.

(J Krajancich Collection)

Applecross ladies in their finery dodging the noisy, smelly racing cars…


One look at this magnificent Bugatti after it had been tampered with – I’ve got no issue with racers trying to remain competitive mind you – made me think of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls…

57264 very late in its competitive life at Caversham in ‘comfy monoposto or tight bi-posto’ form. Ken Devine tells me the driver is Don Hall, the meeting is the 1957 WA Championship. “The car in this form was also driven by Peter Nichol of motorcycle scramble fame.”


  1. facelcf8 says:

    the 1 million euro question since the date of sale this car has not been seen or heard of!

  2. Ken Devine says:

    The driver of the car in the final photo is Don Hall in the 1957 WA championships. The car in this form was also driven by Peter Nichol of Motorcycle Scramble Fame

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