The 1920 Bugatti Type 23 was an upgrade from the successful Type 13. This particular car has a historical significance in that it was the first full production multi-valve automobile produced. The Type 23 experienced a very successful run through 1926. During this time, over 2,000 models were assembled. What was it that made the Bugatti Type 23 so successful?
To begin, it feature an inline 4 engine with 4 valves per cylinder. The component placement also showed variation from the standard Bugatti build. The carburetor was found on the left, while the exhaust was located to the right side. The Type 23 can be easily identified by its H section front axle and lack of front brakes.
The 1496cc engine produced power at 30bhp, and could maintain a top speed of 70mph. The revolutions of most engines was 4000 RPM with a few that could produce 4500 RPM. A front beveled camshaft and overhead cam were standard for this type vehicle. Operating with a wet multi-plate clutch this beauty would reliably turn out a top performance.
The 1920 Bugatti Type 23 extended the wheel base of its predecessor the Type 13. The original wheel base was at 2.0m or 78.75in, the Type 23 measured in at 2.5m or 100.4in. This allowed for faster pacing and control around track corners. This Bugatti was often referred to as the “little thoroughbred” and rightly so.
Drivers of this car were certainly of a special breed, as it required hand cranking, had no speedometer, and was all sports car. The chronograph to the left of the steering wheel could help drivers gauge where in the world they were and get an approximate speed. The excellent steering and road holding capabilities made this Bugatti the car of its time. It was revolutionary to the automotive industry, and though it had a few flaws, the overall success of the car is commendable.