What’s so special about a more than 100-year-old car that has to be started with a hand crank?
If it is a Bugatti, the answer is self-explanatory.
For those who have never been in an open-air, true “automobile” made by the loving hands of Ettore Bugatti at the beginning of the motor era, it is, at least in part, the way one can feel the road in the ride of the car.
It’s in the steering wheel that has no power assist of any kind.
It’s in the tires that transfer every jostle and jolt to the driver.
It’s in the smell of gasoline and oil in the air.
It’s the feeling of freedom — and a lot more — that modern cars, with their sealed interiors, controlled climates and scented air filters just don’t have.
The name Bugatti is known worldwide as one of the finest automobiles ever made. It still is — with current models — selling for between $1.7-$2.7 million.
Mention a Bugatti anywhere and almost anyone knows what is being discussed.
To have an original 1913 Type 22 is even more special.
The one this story focuses on is the only one in the United States and is the oldest ever to make it to our shores, according to Show Low resident Alan Travis, who had it shipped to Houston from Sweden in 2016.
He recently took Best of Show with it at the Pioneer Days Car Show in Snowflake as part of their annual celebration of their pioneer heritage.
Why is his Type 22 so special and rare? Because it is only one of three in the world that are still in driving condition.
The fully restored Bugatti sports a four-cylinder internal combustion engine with overhead valves and cam shaft fed by Venus updraft carburetors.
It’s top speed is around 77 mph.
Best guess history by Travis is that it was driven regularly until 1924 by the original owner before he “retired” it and purchased a 1925 super-charged Bugatti.
Travis said he is unsure if it just sat in an old barn in Sweden from 1924 to 2016, or if it was driven occasionally.
All he knows for sure is that it “lived” in that barn until he negotiated a purchase price from the family that owned it and made arrangements to ship it to Show Low 103 years after it was made.
The original owner died in 1976, at which time it became the property of his surviving family still living in Sweden.
Travis and his wife are currently in Alberta, Canada, with the car participating in a Horseless Carriage Club of America Race. They also took along their 1909 Velage, another vintage car Travis restored. They are driving them alternately 100 miles a day.
Travis said he likes vintage cars, like the Bugatti, best, noting he has three of them — an Italian Bugatti, a French Velage, and a 1907 French Renault.
He put in more than 1,200 hours restoring the Type 22 Bugatti.
After restoring it, he drove it three times down the main streets of Show Low and on State Route 260 (at about 65 mph), and through Torreon, to give the public a gander at it.
For our online readers click HERE to see the video.
Travis said its Show Low debut drew large crowds of spectators.
The light blue color is original to the year.
“The story behind that,” Travis said, “is that Bugatti’s wife had a package of cigarettes in 1913 of that color and liked it so much she told her husband to make all of the ones made in 1913 the same color. So he did.”
When it made it to Show Low, Travis started the restoration that included having two of the original spoked wheels redone — one at a specialty shop in England, and one at a shop in California.
Travis said that ever since winning a Great American Race in 1987, he has been hooked on vintage race cars. He especially likes his Bugatti because, he said, it was an all-purpose classic design that is great for racing, hill climbing, or daily driving.
As for his wife, Travis said she is fine with his passion for the best of the best because they typically win races, car shows and just have a lot of fun in the process.