The Petersen Automotive Museum’s latest exhibition is one of the rarest gatherings of Bugatti automobiles and works of art in history
The Petersen Automotive Museum is one of the world’s best places to sample some of the finest automobiles ever created, as well as every aspect of car culture. This Winter, the Beverly Hills-based museum is holding a special exhibit, celebrating ‘The Art of Bugatti’. Here are some of the highlights.
1925 Type 35C Grand Prix
The 137mph Type 35 built upon the Type 23 Brescia’s success with its lightweight design and improved control, braking and engine output. Chassis 4634 was the first Type 35A to be imported to England by Charles Jarrott and Letts Ltd, Bugatti’s London concessionaire. It’s since been transformed into a supercharged Type 35C.
2012 Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse
Named after racing driver Pierre Veyron, the Veyron 16.4 was designed to capture the spirit and romance of pre-World War Two Bugattis. Priced at $1,260,000 upon its 2000 debut, it had a quad-turbo 1001bhp W16 engine and could hit 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds and 253mph. It was the world’s fastest production car at the time.
1939 Type 64 Chassis and concept body
After acquiring an original Type 64 chassis, no 64002, in 2003, Peter Mullin challenged students at the ArtCenter College of Design to envision a body that would convey the potential of what would have been Jean Bugatti’s final design and highlight Jean’s groundbreaking papillon (butterfly) doors. Finalised by the ArtCenter’s chair of transportation design Stewart Reed and built by Mike Kleeves’ Automobile Metal Shaping Company, it was unveiled in 2013.
Automotrice Rapide Bugatti railcar Engine
When the exorbitantly priced Type 41 Royale failed to sell, Ettore repurposed its engine for state-funded passenger rail. Bugatti Automotrice Rapide Railcars, or Autorails, were powered by two or four Type 41 monoblocs mounted in tandem. Eighty-eight Autorails were produced from 1932 to ’38; some remained in service for two decades. Fashionable French travellers would ‘take the Bugatti’.
1939/1949 Type 57C Atalante
To offer a rakish convertible look but maintain streamlined efficiency, Jean Bugatti designed a ‘faux cabriolet’ Atalante with a fully enclosed cab. When Bugatti resumed production after WW2, it used pre-war designs and parts left in the factory – and this Atalante is one such example, being built in 1949. Just 17 Type 57 Atalantes were produced.
1932 Type 41 Royale
Envisaged as a car for kings, the Royale was a 12,763cc behemoth with a 14-foot chassis that could wear coachwork ranging from a formal town car to a sporting roadster. Each one featured a rearing elephant mascot by Rembrandt Bugatti. This Coupé de Ville Binder was initally bodied as a cabriolet, designed by Jean Bugatti; the current body replaced it in 1938. It’s known as the Esders Royale after its first buyer.
1936 Type 57SC Atlantic
The production version of Jean Bugatti’s Aérolithe Coupé. This one started life as a Type 57S and was delivered new to England in 1936. The buyer, Lord Rothschild, then asked Bugatti to upgrade it to supercharged SC specification in 1939.
1930 Type 46 Cabriolet
Built in response to the Great Depression, this was billed as a more affordable and ‘realistic’ grand tourer than previous Bugattis. It was produced from 1929 to 1933 in cabriolet, sedan, limousine or coupé form. Only 60 of nearly 500 built are known to have survived.