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Bugatti Royale

Bugatti Type 41 (Royale)
Jean Bugatti and his 1932 "Royale"


The Bugatti Type 41, better known as the Royale, was a large luxury car with a 4.3 m (169.3 in) wheelbase and 6.4 m (21 ft) overall length. It weighed approximately 3175 kg (7000 lb) and used a 12.7 L (12763 cc/778 in³) straight-8.

Its cast "Roue Royale" wheels measured 610 mm (24 inches) in diameter. All six production Royales still exist (the prototype was destroyed in an accident in 1931), and each has a different body, some having been rebodied several times.

The engine (apx. 4.5ft long x 3.5ft high), is one of the largest automobile engines ever made, producing 205 to 223 kW (275 to 300 hp). Its cylinders, bored to 125 by 130mm, each displaced more than the entire engine of the contemporary Type 40 touring car. It had 3 valves per cylinder driven by a single overhead camshaft. Nine bearings were specified for reliability, but only a single custom carburettor was needed. A derivation of the Royale engine was used in railcars.

The Royale was launched just as the world economy began to sour. Just six were built between 1929 and 1933, with just three sold to external customers.

  • The first (chassis number 41111) to French clothing manufacturer Armand Esders in 1932.
  • The second (ch no.41121), also in 1932 to German obstetrician Josef Fuchs. It was built to exacting standards and above its radiator grille cap perched a replica of a Rembrandt Bugatti elephant sculpture. This Royale incorporates one of Jean Bugatti's most fantastic designs. Armand Esders brought it to the US. The car surfaced in a New York junkyard in 1943, was bought and restored by a General Motors executive, who eventually gave it to the Ford Museum.
  • The third (ch no.41131) to Englishman Cuthbert Foster, in 1933.

The remaining three were kept inside the company, including one which became the personal car of Ettore Bugatti for the remainder of his days. The unused engines were pressed into service in locomotives on the French national railways, turning the episode from an economic failure into a success for Ettore Bugatti.

The Royale has become legendary, like the Atlantic. In 1991, Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, sold his Royale (ch no. 41150) for US$8,000,000, which was actually less than the £5.7 million (US$8.4 million) he purchased it for in 1986.

Two of the original six including Ettore Bugatti's own Royale are located at Musée National de l'Automobile de Mulhouse, as is the replica Esders Royale.

A 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41 Cabriolet rests in a permanent place within the Henry Ford Museum, located in Dearborn, Michigan. The placard reads that the original selling price was 43,000 US Dollars.

The placard, in its entirety, reads: "1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41 Cabriolet, Ettore Bugatti, Molsheim, France, Body by Weinberger, OHC, in-line 8 cylinder, 300 horsepower, 779 cu.in. displacement, 7,035 lbs. Original price: $43,000, Gift of Charles and Esther Chayne"

Ettore Bugatti planned to build twenty-five of these cars, and sell them to royalty. But even royalty wasn't buying such things during the Great Depression. Bugatti was able to sell only six. Today a Bugatti Royale is the ultimate status symbol-one of the biggest, rarest, most desirable cars in the world.

On May 24th 2008, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim of Denmark on the day of his wedding to Princess Marie (formerly Marie Cavallier) had a replica of a Coupé Napoléon car waiting outside Møgeltønder Church to drive the newly married couple to Schackenborg Manor. The car was borrowed from Tom Wheatcroft and his Donington Grand Prix Collection in England.

References

  • Great Cars - Bugatti (documentary)


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