Here's a look at the first three cars of the Ralph Lauren collection at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, in situ. We begin our run-up to the official opening, presenting each of 16 cars in detail, with an open invitation for you to add your comments and historical info. Click through for the first three cars: 1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix, 1929 Blower Bentley and 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C Mille Miglia.
This 1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix was the first of six or seven examples built. The barrel-shaped bomber is famous for its great style? especially its ?piano wire? wheels? rather than racing prowess. During its two-year grand prix career, the 59 failed to finish three out of eight Grand Prix events. On the positive side, it placed 2nd in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in ?34 and set a new lap record. The Type 59 was something of a swan song for Bugatti, who simply couldn?t afford to compete with the nationally subsidized German and Italian Grand Prix teams of the late and middle 30?s.
The 1929 Blower Bentley is a beast. (The ?blower? refers to the supercharger sitting on the car?s front bumper, which doubled the engine?s horsepower from 110bhp to 240bhp.) English racer Sir Henry Birkin, one of the fast-living ?Bentley Boys?, added the device, despite founder W.O.Bentley?s scorn for the system. Although the 4 1/2 Liter Supercharged Bentley never found glory on the race track, it?s brutal style earned the machine legendary status. Fictional secret agent James Bond drove one in Ian Fleming?s early novels, before opting for a more elegant? though no more charismatic? Aston.
The 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia is one the latest additions to Mr. Lauren?s collection (hence the unavailability of official photography). One of four identical cars built to compete in Italy?s 1000 mile race, this car finished second in its only outing by two seconds. The 8C is a fine early example of superleggera or ?superlight? construction. The body sits on a framework of small diameter aluminum tubes. [NB: Mr. Lauren is rumored to be entering the car at this year?s Pebble Beach concours.]