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Beyond Epic: The Bugatti Divo and Type 35 Go Head to Head in Italy

Founded in 1906, the famed Targa Florio endurance race in Sicily was the world's oldest sports car competition, and, until its finale in the '70s, one of the most dangerous. Many marques' reputations were made or broken at the event, and while it may be most strongly associated with the likes of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Bugatti scored an incredible five wins in a row there beginning in 1925, cementing its prestige. 

The car that achieved the incredible victories was the Type 35, which in its B variant could hit nearly 135 mph and maintain the speed for many hours, making it impossible to beat. In 1928 and '29, French racing driver Albert Divo was behind the wheel of the Type 35s that won the Targa Florio trophies. Bugatti honored him by naming its lasted limited edition hypercar, announced last year, after him.

The Bugatti Divo, a more exotic version of the Chiron, costs $5.9 million, is limited to just 40 (sold out) examples, and boasts a 1,500 horsepower engine blasting it from 0–62 mph in just 2.8 seconds, with a top speed of nearly 240 mph. Without a doubt it's one of the most exclusive and expensive cars ever made.

To celebrate the Divo's debut, Bugatti recently brought the wicked-looking whip to the original Targa Florio track along with an impeccably-restored Type 35—also worth millions—from its private collection in France. One of the most successful race cars of all time, the Type 35 won over 1,000 races in its time including the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926.

Bugatti test and development driver Andy Wallace, who has won both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona—three times—was entrusted with the keys to the Type 35 on the route in Sicily, which he describes as a collection of tight corners, steep slopes, and dusty tracks. 

“It’s incredible what racing drivers like Albert Divo managed to achieve back then," Wallace remarks. "And even though the Type 35 is easy to drive for its age, it is still a constant muscle workout. There are lots of corners, all of them tight, the route is unclear and the condition of the tarmac is very poor. It's impossible to overtake." 

Not that it had much of a chance against the Divo, which Wallace also had a whip-round in. “I am deeply impressed by how the Divo is able to get to grips with these roads," he enthused. “It feels incredible to be here on the legendary Targa Florio circuit with the historic Type 35 and the new Divo. It feels like the circle is complete."