The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Bugatti replica claims there’s nothing about it that’s “over the top.” Excluding the fact that what it’s a replica of is one of the world’s most famous early racers, of course. Let’s see if it also comes with a less-than-over-the-top price tag.
For many Olympians, winning the silver can be a career-high achievement, something to be proud of for years. Last Friday, we looked at a 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 Silver Arrow, offered with stunningly low miles and an exceedingly nice presentation. And while the seller touted its $38,888 asking price as being under what Hagerty claims to be the minimum value for such a car in that condition, few of you were willing to award it a win. When the dust settled, the Silver Arrow couldn’t even take home a bronze, walking away instead with a 78 percent No Dice loss.
One such resurrection of the Bugatti name and car is this 1988 TEAL Bugatti Type 35. It was built on a bespoke chassis by a British company founded five years earlier by former Daimler engineer Ian Foster and two of his friends, Alan Hunter and Tony Rogers. The spark for the company came — as all things in Britain do — during a night of drinking at a pub. A few Guinness in, Hunter described to his two friends seeing a Volkswagen-based Bugatti kit car on a trip to America. The three agreed that while the fiberglass body was an economical place to start, a ladder-frame chassis and front engine/rear-drive layout would be more befitting the model and marque than would a repurposed Beetle.
Even in the 1980s, classic Bugattis brought serious bank, so a replica offering much of the experience at a fraction of the cost could sell in enough numbers to be economically feasible. The company founded to do so was initially anointed Worsley. However, after the founders realized that the name had negative connotations, they adopted Trafford Engineering Automotive Limited, shortening it on the badge to TEAL.
This TEAL isn’t fiberglass but aluminium, making it more like the original car than its American inspiration. Unlike the original Type 35, this TEAL isn’t powered by a small straight eight, but instead, half that engine’s cylinder count in the form of a Lampredi-designed Fiat DOC four, likely late of some 124 or the like.
No displacement or horsepower is given for the engine, and it does look a little lost under the long, expansive hood, to the point of requiring a length of house plumbing to reach the radiator. Another change on the TEAL from the original Type 35 — probably for the better — is the switch from a remote pitman arm steering mechanism to a rack and pinion setup. Tube shocks also replace the real deal’s friction units, and no accommodation is made on the TEAL for a hand crank which is interesting considering Fiat’s reputation for reliability.
Other than those modern updates, this TEAL looks to be a faithful replica of the Type 35 and, as such, should provide much the same experience. It also looks to be in pretty excellent shape, with plenty of meat on its vintage Blockley tires and just the right patina on the leather upholstered seats. Naturally, it has most all the disadvantages of the original, including a sardine-tight cabin, bugs-in-your-teeth Brooklands windscreens, and a general lack of practicality that makes this little more than a toy.
The car wears both an older British license plate as well as one from the Principality of Monaco. Unfortunately, neither plate shows up in the TEAL registry. Nowhere in the ad does the seller explain how such a rare and odd car found its way to Stillwell, Kansas, one of the small farming communities on the outskirts of Kansas City, nor what the current registration situation might be. Instead, we’re treated to a bit of history about the TEAL company and the recommendation that the car would look better with bigger headlights. Okay.
Truth be told, this is a rare opportunity to own what seems to be a solid replica of a car that nobody outside of Jeff Bezos can afford today. In fact, I’d wager that this TEAL is probably the cheapest way to get anywhere close to an original Bugatti experience without paying the millions of dollars a real one costs or undertaking a daring daylight theft of one from a museum. Could that opportunity be worth $48,500?
What do you say? Is this TEAL Type 35 worth that kind of cash? Or, despite imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, is the seller flattering themselves by asking so much?
H/T to Glemon for the hookup!
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