I do not know a lot about pre-war classics. I do know Bugatti was the brand to beat when it comes to style and performance though. And directly after the war Bugatti tried to conquer the market once more. With the T101. No Turbos in this one, T is just for Type.
And 101 was probably just the 101th project they worked on. Bugatti “just” got a chassis of the pre-war Type 57, added hydraulic brakes. The same 3257 cc straight 8 engine was used and Bugatti didn’t change much on that one: Still 135hp. There was a Supercharged engine available as well that took the engine to a, for that era, whopping 190hp.
Bugatti actually only built chassis and drivetrain, for the bodies all kinds of coachbuilders (Guilloré, Antem, Ghia) were used. Making every single one a unique car as a total of 6 T101's were built anyway. Afterwards at least two Type 57's were converted to T101-spec by Bugatti as well (and got a more modern body in the process).
But this one is a fairly known one, the 1951 Gangloff-built coupé. Actually, this is one of the two converted Type 57's as it’s chassis number 57.454 clearly tells us. It is known because of the fact it, next to the amazing white 4-door prototype, is in the Schlumpf Collection. Open to the public, I can highly recommend the museum built around this collection.
And this actually was the car Bugatti put on display at the 1951 Salon de l’Automobile in Paris:
But with these production numbers it was evident Bugatti had lost track. It was too expensive (in France due to it’s tax-class of 17 or 19cv but in general as well in pre-war Europe) and could not compete with Delahaye or Jaguar when it comes to comfort and performance.
I mention Jaguar for a reason as this one, to me, resembles the XK-series a bit. It’s bigger, but still. And of course all kind of mystique things are surrounding the last Bugatti: What ever happened to chassis number 101.505? Because 101.500, 101.501, 101.502, 101.503, 101.504 and 101.506 are documented. These even still ALL exist today!
And what about the last one: 101.506? All the T101's were built around 1952. Except this one. When was it finished? Well, somewhat later: In 1965! This was the Ghia built one, bought and designed by American Virgil Exner. If anyone is looking for a model of that one (I certainly am not): Matrix has it!
The model is a 1/43 from Atlas/Altaya. It can be had for around 10 euros and has everything a bit “too much”, as always. Chrome too thick, that antenna, wipers. Rear wheels refuse too roll so panning was out of the question anyway. But if you’re looking to 1/43s of these one-offs the choice is minimal.
It still is a bad thing all these Bugattis died: Jean in 1939 while testing a Type 57, Ettore just after the war and the brand all together in 1965. Or was it in fact 1952? Sure there has been two revivals but to me the grandeur of the initial period never returned. Not the Italian one under Romano Artioli in the ‘90's, and neither the German one under Ferdinand Piëch.
C’est ca pour cette semaine! I wish you all the best and hope to be surprised today with some other French awesomeness. Bon Week-End!