Royale Auction


I read with arnazernent that one of the type 41 Bugattis is expected to realise ten million dollars when oftered for sale at the forthcoming Harrah auction in the USA.

My instant reaction is But why Or in this instance is it more appropriate to exclaim “Pour quo,. Royales found no favour when new and small wonder. With such a magnificent selection of cars available at that time as 60 and 8 litre Bentleys, the Rolls Royce Phantoms, Hispano Suiza, Mercedes SS, Packards and Deusenberg How could the wealthy connoisseurs be expected to choose such an anachronism.

The engine was of flawed pedigree, reputed to be one block of the type 34 Acre engine project 01 1925 Which in turn was an enlarged but mechanically similar version of the Bugatti — King 100 x 160 unit of 1918. This was another of M le Patrons illogical foibles.

Declared by Bugatti to be built specifically for fighter aircraft and having an aperture through the main reduction spur wheel and propellor shaft to lake a quick firing 37 mm cannon, obviously this is what he had in mind However the two banks of tandem four cyl blocks were so close together it was impossible to carburate between them (there being no developed forced induction system at this time).

Therefore the inside ports had to be used through an acute 90 degree angle for the exhaust function, discharging fumes straight into the face of the unfortunate pilot. Never put into production by the logical French but atter a traumatic development period a few were built in the USA As far as can be ascertained they were never used in aircraft but it is reported they were used to provide gale scenes in Hollywood. By the time this heavy engine wth its two lengthy crankshafts and cast iron cyl blocks had been developed it was completely outclassed by the well designed, splendid, compact, short stroke Napier Lion. The Napier weighed only 1 89 lbs for each bhp produced whilst the Bugatti-King weighed 34 lbs for each of its reputed 410 bhp.

Aesthetically all the type 41 Bugattis were a disaster. The inverted horseshoe radiator, so beautiful and right for the slim GP cars, does not lend itself to the square rigged styling of a full sized passenger car.

I have seen two of these cars in the flesh, the Park Ward bodied one at the Silverstone British GP of 1951 and the Drop head with German coachwork in the Ford museum at Dearborn.

It is gratifying that the full importance of the Motor revolution is being appreciated, and that fine cars which were milestones in design progress or earned themselves a niche in history by outstanding peformance on road and track are being preserved. However the Bugatti type 41 was in no way one of these.

 Produced by perhaps the only man who would have the gall to offer the luxury car clientele hall a rejected aero engine with its different functional characteristics in a commercial vehicle sized chassis at twice the price of a completed Rolls or Hispano Suiza.

One expects outstanding cars such as the Mercedes 60, Silver Ghost, Bentleys and significant vehicles such as a Henri Peugeot to command high prices. But a Bugatti type 41 — “Pour quoi?”

Shifnal N F HILL