Thursday, January 25, 2018

Bugatti Type 101: The Last Gasp

The final Bugatti version created by the original company was the Type 101.  The link lists eight 101s built, but I consider only six of those legitimate.  Of the others, one was a 1935 car converted by the factory.  Another, based on an altered 101 chassis, was a 1965 design by Virgil Exner, former Chrysler styling vice president.  The remaining six cars appeared 1951-1954, the time I consider Bugatti's last gasp as a car builder.

Founder and patron Ettore (Hector) died 21 August 1947 and his son Jean, who styled many important Bugattis, died while testing a Bugatti racing car 11 August 1939.  They were the key players during the company's heyday.  Jean's younger brother Roland attempted to keep the brand going, and the Type 101 was developed under his guidance.

Below are images of five Type 101 Bugattis.  Included are some photos I took at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles when it featured a large display of Bugattis from the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard.


Publicity material from 1951 or '52.  These seem to be Gangloff designs, neither of which was built.

1952 Gangloff cabriolet that is now displayed at the Schlumpf Collection in France.

1951 Gangloff coupé , also at the Schlumpf Collection.

Yet another Schlumpf Bugatti Type 101, the only four-door version.  Body by Guilloré.  Rear is seen in the mirror.

Coupé by Jean Antem (1954).

Here is the 1952 Bugatti Type 101C cabriolet by Gangloff that I photographed.  It is essentially the same as the car in the Schlumpf Collection.

Side view.

And the rear.

Stylists had a difficult time when asked to create new designs incorporating both traditional brand visual cues and the integrated, "envelope" type bodies expected post- World War 2.  The most important and most difficult item to deal with was the design of a traditional grille.  At one extreme was Rolls-Royce, where traditional grilles were grafted onto more contemporary bodies with little change other than shortening.  Then there was Delahaye, which finally was distorting its traditional grilles almost beyond recognition by the early 1950s.  Packard's 1951 redesign retained key traditional elements while adding fashionable thick, sculpted chromework and reorienting grille profiles from vertical to horizontal.

The Bugatti designs shown above retained the tradition horseshoe grille shape.  The envelope bodies by Gangloff were simple designs where the usual bulky appearance of many slab-sided postwar cars was mitigated by being less tall than the afflicted cars.  If the unbuilt designs in the first image had materialized, they probably would have appeared dignified, but slightly old-fashioned thanks to the vertical grille and the narrow placement of the headlights.  Perhaps worse, such Bugattis would have lacked the flair of 1930s designs by Jean.

1 comment:

jrm said...

The front ends look very similar to the contemporary Jaguar XK. And the front of the tan four-door makes me think of a Chrysler concept car from the early to mid-fifties.