DELAGE Cars 1905 – 1953 Levallois-Perret, France


Founded 1905
Founder Louis Delage
Defunct 1953
Headquarters Levallois-Perret, France
Products Cars
Delage D8-120

Delage was a French luxury automobile and racecar company founded in 1905 by Louis Delage in Levallois-Perret near Paris; it was acquired by Delahaye in 1935 and ceased operation in 1953.

Early history

The company was founded in 1905 by Louis Delage, who borrowed Fr 35,000, giving up a salary of Fr 600 a month to do so.

Its first location was on the Rue Cormeilles in Levallois-Perret. The company at first had just two lathes and three employees, one of them Peugeot‘s former chief designer. Delage initially produced parts for Helbé, with the De Dion-Bouton engine and chassis assembled by Helbé; Delage added only the body.

The first model was the Type A, a voiturette which appeared in 1906. It was powered by a one-cylinder De Dion-Bouton of 4.5 or 9 hp (3.4 or 6.7 kW; 4.6 or 9.1 PS). Like other early carmakers, Delage participated in motor racing, entering the Coupe de Voiturettes held at Rambouillet in November 1906 with a 9 hp (6.7 kW; 9.1 PS) racer. Seven days of regularity trials decided the entrants, and one of the two 9 hp (6.7 kW; 9.1 PS) Delage specials was wrecked in the rain on the fifth; nevertheless, Ménard, the other works driver, came second in the event, behind a Sizaire-Naudin.

In 1907 the factory moved to the Rue Baudin Levallois, where a 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft) workshop allowed it to grow. The two-cylinder Delages were no match for the competition this year at the Coupe des Voiturettes.

In 1908, the success enabled the development of the factory and entry into more Grand Prix races. That year, racing success returned: Delage won the Grand Prix des Voiturettes held 6 July. This event, six laps of the 47.74 mi (76.83 km) Dieppe Grand Prix circuit, saw 47 starters. Delage fielded three cars: a pair with 1,242 cc (75.8 cu in) (78 by 130 mm (3.1 by 5.1 in)) De Dion-Bouton twins, driven by Thomas and Lucas-Bonnard, and a radical 28 hp (21 kW; 28 PS) 1,257 cc (76.7 cu in) (100 by 160 mm (3.9 by 6.3 in)) one-cylinder (built by Nemorin Causan) in the hands of Delage dealer Albert Guyot. Guyot won at an average 49.8 mph (80.1 km/h), not needing to stop for fuel. All three Delages finished this time, Thomas the quickest of the two-cylinder cars, while the team also took home the regularity prize. These good results contributed to total sales exceeding 300 cars for the year.

Delage converted to four-cylinder engines in 1909, at first provided by De Dion and Edouard Ballot; shortly, the company were producing their own sidevalve fours, too.

After an increase in sales, the existing facilities were too small, so in 1910 the factory moved to a new facility at 138 Boulevard de Verdun, Courbevoie. The following year saw the creation of advanced bodywork. By 1912, 350 workers were producing over 1000 cars annually, and offered four- and six-cylinder sidevalve engines.

During the First World War, Delage produced munitions. Production of passenger cars virtually stopped, with the exception of some fabrication for the Army. But the Delage factories were running full support for the war effort.

When the war concluded, Delage moved away from small cars and made its reputation with larger cars. First up was the CO, with a 4,524 cc (276.1 cu in) (80 by 150 mm (3.1 by 5.9 in)) fixed-head sidevalve six producing 20 hp. The CO plans had been drawn up during the conflict; this was the first passenger car with front brakes. It was joined by the DO with a 3-liter four.

The 1920s were really the first “Golden Age” of Delage. The most famous were the DE and DI: 4 cylinders of about 2 liters and 11 hp. Delage also attempted to compete with Hispano-Suiza, with the GL of 30 hp and 5954 cc, with some success. After that came a new generation of six-cylinder cars, like the MD (3174 cc) and DR (2516 cc), the best-selling vehicle in the history of the brand, designed by engineer Gaultier.

Both the CO and DO were replaced in 1922. The CO became the CO2, which changed to an overhead valve twin-plug head, producing 88 hp (66 kW; 89 PS), while the DO was supplanted by the DE with a 2,117 cc (129.2 cu in) (72 by 130 mm (2.8 by 5.1 in)) sidevalve four and, unusual in a production car even in this era, four-wheel brakes. The CO2 completed the Paris-Nice run in 16 hours, an average of 67 km/h (42 mph).

The next year, the new 14 hp (10 kW; 14 PS) DI also switched to OHV with a 2,121 cc (129.4 cu in) (75 by 120 mm (3.0 by 4.7 in)) four, fitted with magneto ignition and thermosyphon cooling; all had four-speed gearboxes and Zenith carburettors. At the other end of the scale, the GL (Grand Luxe), also known as the 40/50, replaced the CO2, being fitted with a magneto-fired 5,344 cc (326.1 cu in) (90 by 140 mm (3.5 by 5.5 in)) overhead cam six.

In 1923, a hillclimb car with DI chassis, larger wheels and tires, and 5,107 cc (311.6 cu in) (85 by 150 mm (3.3 by 5.9 in)) CO block (with three Zenith carburetors) was produced. Delage scored successes at La Turbie and Mont Ventoux. This car was joined by a 10,688 cc (652.2 cu in) (90 by 140 mm (3.5 by 5.5 in)) V12, which broke the course record at the Gaillon hillclimb, with Thomas at the wheel. Thomas would set the land speed record at Arpajon in this car, at a speed of 143.24 mph (230.52 km/h), in 1924. A 1925 car had a 5,954 cc (363.3 cu in) (95 by 140 mm (3.7 by 5.5 in)) six, again using the GL block, with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead cams. Driven by Divo, it broke the Mont Ventoux course record in its debut. It would be destroyed by fire at the Phoenix Park meet in 1934.

The 1924 and 1925 DIS, with a 117 in (3,000 mm) wheelbase, switched from Rolls-Royce-type locking wheel hubs to Rudge knock-ons, better cam, and bigger valves, while the 1925 and 1926 DISS on the same wheelbase. Some of the DISes were bodied by Kelsch. The DIS became the Series 6 in 1927, switching to coil ignition and water pump.

In 1926, Delage introduced the DM, with a 3,182 cc (194.2 cu in) (75 by 120 mm (3.0 by 4.7 in)) six, which made it emblematic of the era for the marque. The high-performance DMS had hotter cam, twin valve springs, and other improvements. A DR, with a choice of 2.2- and 2.5-liter sidevalve engines, also briefly appeared.


Delage entered the 1911 Coupe de l’Auto at Boulogne with a 50 hp (37 kW; 51 PS) 2,996 cc (182.8 cu in) (80 by 149 mm (3.1 by 5.9 in)) four with two 60 mm (2.4 in)-diameter bellcrank-operated valves per cylinder controlled by camshafts in the crankcase. The five-speed gearbox gave a top speed of 60 mph (97 km/h), and the four voiturettes each carried 26 imp gal (120 l; 31 US gal), as the factory planned for a no-stop race. Works driver Paul Bablot won, at an average 55.2 mph (88.8 km/h), with a 1m 11s over Boillot’s Peugeot, followed home by Thomas in a second Delage; Delage also took the team prize.

Delage would move up to Grand Prix racing in 1912, with a Léon Michelat-designed car powered by a four-valve 6,235 cc (380.5 cu in) (105 by 180 mm (4.1 by 7.1 in)) four-cylinder of 118 hp (88 kW; 120 PS), coupled again to a five-speed gearbox and fitted this time with 43 imp gal (200 l; 52 US gal). Three cars were built for the 569 mi (916 km) Amiens Grand Prix, though only two, Bablot’s and Guyot’s, actually entered. On the day, Bablot’s Delage proved the fastest car in the field, turning in a lap at 76.6 mph (123.3 km/h), but it was Guyot who would fall out of the lead with a puncture, and the race went to Peugeot, while the Delages were fourth and fifth. At the French Grand Prix, Delage put Bablot first, Guyot second, ahead of Pilette’s 1908 Mercedes GP car, Salzer in a Mercedes, with Duray coming in fifth in the third Delage.

In 1913, the new type Y set the fasted lap time at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, and in 1914, this same car won the 1914 Indianapolis 500 with René Thomas at the wheel. Thomas, Guyot, and Duray would return to the French Grand Prix with 4½-liter twin-cam desmodromic valved racers featuring twin carburettors, five-speed gearbox, and four-wheel brakes. While quick, they proved unreliable; only one finished, Duray’s, in eighth.

In 1914, Delage emphasized its focus on competition by creating the type O Lyon Grand Prix, while at the same time moving towards the luxury car market with 6 cylinders of a large class. However, racing was severely curtailed during World War One.

Delage D6

In 1923 Louis Delage returned to competition with the innovative 12-cylinder 2-liter type 2 LCV. This car won the 1924 European Grand Prix in Lyon and the 1925 Grand Prix of ACF Montlhéry. The 12-cylinder DH (10,5 liters) of 1924 beat the world speed record on the highway, at 230 km/h (143 mph). A Delage 155 B won the first Grand Prix of Great-Britain in 1926, driven by Louis Wagner and Robert Senechal. The production of cars continued with the DI and the DI S SS. The DM evolved into the DMS and DML, equipped with a 6-cylinder 3-liter engine designed by Maurice Gaultier.

Delage’s Grand Prix effort saw a Plancton-designed 1,984 cc (121.1 cu in) (51.3 by 80 mm (2.02 by 3.15 in)) four overhead cam V12. The 110 hp (82 kW; 110 PS) car, driven by Thomas, fell out of the French Grand Prix in 1923, but went on to perform well for the bulk of the 1923 and 1924 season. With supercharger added in 1925, bringing output to 195 hp (145 kW; 198 PS), it won at Montlhéry and Lasarteproving as fast as the Alfa Romeo P2, but rarely racing it directly. This car was supplanted in 1926 by a Lory-designed supercharged 1.5-liter twincam straight eight of 170 hp (130 kW; 170 PS); capable of 130 mph (210 km/h), it was the company’s last Grand Prix entrant.

A Delage supercharged straight-8 racing engine

Always passionate about racing, Louis Delage designed an 8-cylinder 1500 cc, the type 15 S 8. This car won four European Grands Prix races in 1927, and won Delage the title “World Champion of Car Builders” that same year.

A 2,988 cc (182.3 cu in)-powered D6 won the 1938 Tourist Trophy at Donington Park and came second at Le Mans. A single V12-powered car, intended for Le Mans, tragically caught fire at the 1938 International Trophy at Brooklands.

Postwar, the best results Delage had were seconds at the 1949 Le Mans and 1950 Paris Grand Prix.

The D6 and the D8: The Classic Era

1930 saw the launch of the 6-cylinder Delage D6 which would form the mainstay of the manufacturer’s passenger car range until 1954.

For 1930 Maurice Gaultier designed an 8-cylinder in-line 4,061 cc, evolving the type D8 into the type D8 S (S for Sport).

1939 Delage D8

The D8 was the pinnacle of the marque. It was offered in three wheelbases, “S” or “C” at 130 in (3,300 mm), “N” at 140 in (3,600 mm), and “L” at 143 in (3,600 mm), all powered by a 4,061 cc (247.8 cu in) (77 by 109 mm (3.0 by 4.3 in)) straight eight, making it capable of 85 mph (137 km/h). Delage followed in 1932 with the Grand Sport, on a 123 in (3,100 mm) 130 in (3,300 mm) in 1934) wheelbase, capable of 100 mph (160 km/h).

But the backlash of the economic crisis of 1929 arrived and manufacturers of luxury cars all over the world suffered from poor sales. The commercial and financial situation of the firm was badly shaken. In 1932 Delage introduced the type D6-11 (6-cylinder 2101 cc), and two years later the new eight-cylinder Delage, type D8-15 (2768 cc). These two models, equipped with independent front wheel suspension did not increase sale figures. The transverse leaf and wishbone independent front suspension was licensed by Studebaker for their cars.

The junior D6s shared Delahaye front suspension design, but had hydraulic rather than Delahaye cable-actuated brakes, also shared the Cotal gearbox with the D8. The D6/70 of 1936 was powered by a 2,729 cc (166.5 cu in) (80 by 90.5 mm (3.15 by 3.56 in)) six, the 1938 D6/75 a 2.8-liter six, and the postwar D8/3L Olympic a 3-liter six. At the bottom of the range was a 1.5-liter four that lasted until 1936.

Financial pressures never disappeared, however, and during the Spring of 1932 Louis Delage was obliged to take out a 25 Million franc loan in order to finance the tooling needed to put the D6 into production. It was at this time that he also entered into negotiations with Peugeot about using their dealership and service network. These negotiations went nowhere, and discussions with other possible partners/rescuers also came to nothing. There were also personal problems involving his marriage which necessitated a rearrangement of Delage’s personal finances, although in the event it was the sale of his expensive home in the Champs-Élysées that reduced the pressure on his finances if only in the short term.

The last models to emerge from the factory in Courbevoie were the types D6-65, D8-85 and D8-105, designed by engineer Michelat. On 20 April 1935 the factory in Courbevoie went into voluntary liquidation.

But Louis Delage would not admit defeat, and with the help of a businessman called Walter Watney created the Société Nouvelle des Automobiles Delage (SAFAD), to market Delage cars, assembled from production Delahayes. This union created the 4-cylinder DI 12 and the D8 120, and also the 6-cylinder D6 70. Watney had taken control as president of SAFAD, but he was a British national and in June 1940 he was obliged to leave Paris as the German Army arrived. Watney stayed in France, at his villa in Beaulieu, until the end of 1942 after the Germans had completed their occupation, but already in December 1940 the presidency of the SAFAD business had passed directly into the control of Delahaye. In any event, since the outbreak of the war Delage had been largely inactive, although they did undertake work on a project to replace the six-cylinder engine of the Hotchkiss H39 tank with the more powerful 8-cylinder unit from the Delage D8 120.

Racing aero-engines

Delage produced at least two types of racing aero-engine during the early 1930s. The Delage 12 CED was fitted to the Kellner-Béchereau 28VD racing aircraft, intended to compete in the 1933 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe air race. Unfortunately the aircraft crashed during qualification trials for the race on 12 May 1933. The second engine type, the Delage 12 GV, remains a mystery, with very little information available.

After the Second World War

A large prototype Delage D-180 limousine appeared at the 1946 Paris Motor Show but there were evidently no further developments on this project and by the next year the big prototype had quietly disappeared. At the 1947 Paris Motor Show only a single model was exhibited as the business focused on its six-cylinder 3-litre Delage D6 which in most respects will have been familiar to anyone who had known the 3-litre Delages of the 1930s. The car was offered with bodies by firms such as Chapron, Letourner & Marchand and Guilloré. A variety of coupe and cabriolet bodied D6s were produced. In addition, both Guilloré and Chapron produced a large saloon/sedan body. The two were remarkably similar, both being six-light four-door cars with conservative 1930s style shapes. Something else the two had in common was unexpectedly narrow rear doors, enforced by the combination of a long body, a long rear overhang and a relatively short wheelbase provided by the D6 chassis. A longer wheelbase 1952 special version, bodied by Guilloré, was owned by National Assembly president Edouard Herriot.

Nevertheless, these were difficult times for luxury auto-makers in France and by now the company’s registered head office was the same as that for Delahaye: production statistics from the period group Delage and Delahaye together. Louis Delâge himself, who had lived in poverty and quasi-monastic isolation since bankruptcy in 1935 had enforced the transfer of his company to Delahaye, died in December 1947, and during the next few years any residual autonomy that the business had enjoyed disappeared. Increases in motoring taxes, most notably in 1948 and most savagely targeting cars with engines of above 2 litres, combined with the depressed economic conditions of post-war France to create a difficult market for luxury car manufacturers. In 1950 Delahaye produced 235 cars which will have included a significant number of Delages. In 1951 the combined production figure for the two brands slumped to 77: in 1952 it was down to 41. In 1953 Delage production ended.

Delage was absorbed into Hotchkiss along with Delahaye in 1954, and car manufacturing ended.


1920 Delage (type S) CO 4 ½ litre Salamanca (1918, 6 cyl, 4,524 cc)

1924 Delage Di(1920, 2,121 cc)

1920-delage-type-co2-22d181v-dual-cowl-tourer Delage CO2 (1921)

Delage 2 LCV (1923, 12 cyl, 2L)

Delage GL (5,954 cc)

Delage DE

Delage DH (12 cyl DH, 10,5L)

Delage DI S

Delage DI SS

Delage DMS (6 cyl, 3L)

Delage DML (6 cyl, 3L)

Scuderia Giddings black 1927
Delage. Beautiful 1500cc twin cam straight eight, blown alloy engine created almost 200 horse power.

Delage 15 S 8 (8 cyl, 1,500 cc)

1924 Delage GL Labourdett DV-08

Delage GL (5,954 cc)

Delage DM (6 cyl, 3,174 cc)

Delage DR (6 cyl, 2,516 cc)

Delage D4 (4 cyl, 1,480 cc)

Delage D6-11 (6 cyl, 2,101 cc)

Delage D8-15 (2,768 cc)

Delage D6-65

1935 Delage D8-85

Delage D8

Delage D8 S (8 cyl, 4,061 cc)

Delage D8-105

1926 Delage DI Torpedo 11CV 4Cyl

1936 Delage DI-12 Pillarless Saloon Delage DI 12 (4 cyl)

Delage D8 120

Delage D6 70 (6 cyl)

My personal collection, found on www:



Scuderia Giddings black 1927
Delage. Beautiful 1500cc twin cam straight eight, blown alloy engine created almost 200 horse power.

Delage DI 1926 All Weather Tourer. Launched in 1923 the Delage DI was given a 4-cylinder ohv 2120cc 30bhp engine
Delage DI 1926 Drophead Coupe



Delage op You Tube:

Production volumes

During their years of independence, Delage made almost 40,000 cars at their workshops in Levallois and Courbevoie. After Delage production was subsumed into the Delahaye operation, approximately another 2,000 Delage badged cars were manufactured between 1935 and 1940. With the post-war resumption of passenger car production, 330 Delage cars appear to have been produced by Delahaye between 1946 and 1953.

Sources and further reading

  1. Jump up^ Hull, Peter. “Delage: Speed and Elegance in the French Tradition”, in Ward, Ian, executive editor. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 5, p.517.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Hull, p.517.
  3. Jump up^ Hull, p.517. One was de Dion powered, the other Aster-engined; it is unclear from Hull which was involved in this crash.
  4. Jump up^ It featured four spark plugs, four valves per cylinder, two flywheels, and thermosyphon cooling. Hull, p.518.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Hull, p.518.
  6. Jump up^ Hull, p.518-519.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Hull, p.519.
  8. Jump up^ Hull, p.520. It would later be famous at Brooklandsin the hands of John Cobb. In the 1970s, it was still campaigned in veteran and vintage racing by Johnty Williamson and Cecil Clutton.
  9. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Hull, p.520.
  10. Jump up^ Hull, p.519 caption.
  11. Jump up^ Powered by an experimental overhead cam six. Hull, p.518.
  12. Jump up^ Hull, p.520, says 1995cc, which is belied by the cylinder dimensions.
  13. Jump up^ Hull, p.520, says 4,050 cc (247 cu in) which is belied by the quoted cylinder dimensions.
  14. Jump up to:a b c d “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1934 (salon [Paris, Oct] 1933). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 22: 30. 2002.
  15. Jump up to:a b c “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1940 – 46 (les années sans salon). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 26: 32. 2003.
  17. Jump up to:a b c d “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1948 (salon Paris oct 1947). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 7: 9. 1998.
  18. Jump up to:a b c “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1953 (salon Paris oct 1952). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 19: 22. 2000.
  19. Jump up to:a b c “Automobilia”. Toutes les voitures françaises 1954 (salon [Oct] 1953). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 24: 23. 2002.
  20. Jump up^ The chassis number range runs from 1 in 1905 to 39,100 in 1935.
  21. Jump up^ Chassis numbers 50,000 to 51,999.
  22. Jump up^ Chassis numbers 880,000 to 880,330.

Hull, Peter. “Delage: Speed and Elegance in the French Tradition”, in Ward, Ian, executive editor. World of Automobiles, Volume 5, pp. 517–520. London: Orbis, 1974.

External links

Les Amis de Delage, website of Delage-collectors

Delage World, web site maintained by collector Peter Jacobs

Continue reading “DELAGE Cars 1905 – 1953 Levallois-Perret, France”

AUTOVIA Cars Ltd. England UK 1935-1938

1939 Autovia 3 Litre V8 125 HP front


1938 Autovia limousin (DVLA) first registered 23 September 1938, 3445 cc

limousine by Arthur Mulliner
registered September 1938
Manufacturer Autovia Cars Limited,
Ordnance Works, Midland Road, Foleshill, Coventry CV6 5DX
Production 1937-1938 public sales starting 1936

44 made

Designer Charles Van Eugen (1890-1980)
Body and chassis
Class Large luxury
Body style chassis
4-light sports saloon
6-light saloon
Layout Front engine rear wheel drive
Related (engine) Riley 1½-litre straight 4 and
Riley 8/90 2¼-litre 90°V8
Engine 2,849 cubic centimetres (174 cu in)
Transmission single dry-plate clutch to a 4-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on all speeds or
automatic clutch and 4-speed preselective gearbox
divided propellor shaft, back section in a torque tube
final drive by underhung worm is housed in a banjo-type casing
Wheelbase 129 in (3,300 mm)
Length 175.5 in (4,460 mm)
or 183 in (4,600 mm)
Track 56.5 in (1,440 mm)
Width 71 in (1,800 mm)
Predecessor none
Successor none
Production 44
Combustion chamber
Configuration 90°V-8
Displacement 2,849 cubic centimetres (174 cu in)
Cylinder bore 69.5 mm (2.74 in)
Piston stroke 95.25 mm (3.750 in)
Valvetrain inclined at 90° overhead valves worked by pushrods from three camshafts
Fuel system twin Zenith downdraught carburettors with a balance pipe and hot-spot fed from a 16 gallon tank at the back, ignition by magneto with automatic advance mounted vertically towards the rear of the V
Cooling system a water pump is mounted either side of the timing case. The radiator has a fan and thermostatically controlled shutters. The sump is ribbed at the sides
Power output 99 bhp @ 4,700 rpm
Tax rating 23.8hp
Predecessor Riley 8/90 2¼-litre 90°V8
Successor none

Autovia was a short lived brand of British car from Coventry existing from 1935 to 1938 with production starting in January 1937. The venture was ambitious and even included setting up a school for chauffeurs. The cars were expensive and it was a market sector well served by other companies. 44 cars were made.

1936 autovia logo

Large luxury cars

The company was created by Riley as a subsidiary to produce large luxury cars and a new factory was built. A 2849 cc 90°V-8, triple camshaft engine was developed from a pair of 1½-litre Riley engine blocks and coupled to either a conventional four speed manual gearbox or in a few cases a pre selector unit bought from Armstrong Siddeley. Drive was to the rear wheels through a live axle with worm gear final drive.

Three body types were advertised, a Sports saloon, a Special Saloon with extra leg room at the expense of boot space and a limousine mostly built by Arthur Mulliner of Northampton who were London distributors. The car was also available as a bare chassis.

The venture failed when Riley went bankrupt. When they were taken over by the Nuffield Organisation Autovia was not resurrected.

There were thought to be eight of these cars remaining in 2008.

The limousine was considered remarkable for its width being more than its overall height yet the floors were flat and a tunnel and wells avoided at the back. “The general low set helps stability” said The Times, “the models are well equipped, as they should be for the price”.


The specially designed chassis frame permits a low overall height and low floor line.
In addition to the details in the box on the right:

  • wheels: Dunlop centre-lock wire 3.50″ x 19″ with nave plates
  • tyres: 5.5″ section on 19 inch wheels
  • suspension by semi-elliptic springs from the two rigid axles is controlled by hydraulic shock absorbers, their resistance is controlled by the driver
  • braking on all four wheels is mechanically actuated by rods with wedge operated shoes in 16 inch drums
  • steering by worm and nut
  • lubrication (of chassis items) is centralised and automatic


In a prior announcement 10 October 1936 Victor Riley revealed there would be two models available in addition to the bare chassis all with an automatic clutch, a preselective gearbox and a worm driven back axle. Prices would be:

  • chassis £685
  • five-seat saloon £975
  • limousine £995

The London distributors would be Arthur Mulliner Limited of 54 Baker Street, W[8]

The Autovia was also available as a bare chassis
1938 Autovia Front

Open two-seater
registered September 1939


  1. Jump up^ Autovia Cars —Manufacturers of and dealers in and hirers of automobiles, motor vans, and lorries, &c.
    Nominal capital, £60,000, in £1 shares.
    Company Registrations, The Times Tuesday, Dec 17, 1935; pg. 21; Issue 47249


  1. Jump up^ Sedgwick, M. (1989). A-Z of Cars of the 1930s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-38-9.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r The Times, Wednesday, Sep 22, 1937; pg. 6; Issue 47796
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Rileyrob. “Autovia (1937-38)”. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c The Motor Show. The Times, Tuesday, Oct 19, 1937; pg. 10; Issue 47819
  6. Jump up^ Autovia Car Club
  7. Jump up^ Hardiman, Paul (February 2008). Duchene, Paul; Lombard, Stefan; Pickering, Jim, eds. “H&H Auctions, Duxford, UK: The Imperial War Museum”. Sports Car Market (Portland, OR USA: Automotive Investor Media Group). ISSN 1527-859X. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  8. Jump up^ The Times, Saturday, Oct 10, 1936; pg. 6; Issue 47502

Intended as a rival to the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Alvis, Autovia Cars Ltd was founded in December 1935 with a start-up capital of £60,000. Helmed by Victor Riley of the famous car manufacturing dynasty, Charles Van Eugen and S. Gordon Marshall (the latter two acting as Chief Engineer and General Manager respectively), the new concern fielded a car which won its class at the 1936 Ramsgate Concours d’Elegance before going public during the following year’s Earls Court Motor Show. Available in bare chassis (£685), sports saloon (£975) or limousine (£995) guises, the Autovia range was powered by an advanced 2849cc OHV V8 engine boasting three camshafts, two Zenith carburettors and a Vertex Scintilla magneto. Credited with developing some 100bhp, it was allied to a choice of four-speed Armstrong Siddeley pre-selector or ZF manual transmissions and reputedly endowed the cars with a 92mph top speed. Supplied by Rubery Owen, the box-section Autovia chassis featured an underslung back axle (complete with David Brown worm final drive), Girling rod-operated drum brakes and Luvax adjustable shock absorbers. Showing signs of Bugatti influence, the front suspension utilised semi-elliptic springs whose leaves passed directly through a beam axle. Despite glowing reports in ‘The Motor’ and ‘Riley Record’ magazines praising the solidity, sure-footed handling and comfort of its products, the marque failed to make headway amid an already overcrowded marketplace. With total production thought to have accounted for just thirty-six cars, Autovia followed a beleaguered Riley into receivership on March 16th 1938.

1937 Autovia Special Saloon a1937 Autovia Special Saloon interiour a1937 Autovia Special Saloon interiour b1937 Autovia Special Saloon interiour c1937 Autovia Special Saloon interiour d1937 Autovia Special Saloon interiour1937 Autovia Special Saloon

Bodied as a four-door Sports Saloon by Arthur Mulliner of Northampton and London, ‘GHX 1’ was first road registered on May 12th 1938 (or so an accompanying buff logbook would imply). Although, the first few years of its life are a mystery, the Autovia is known to have migrated from Middlesex to Staffordshire over the last seven decades. A source of confusion to various road tax licensing offices en route – London County Council labelling it as an ‘Autoria’ (1950) while Berkshire County Council settled on ‘Austin’ (1954) – the car was reportedly supplied to both its penultimate and current keepers by garagiste Arthur Saxty of Sunningdale Motors Ltd. A previous custodian himself, Saxty is rumoured to have only let ‘GHX 1’ go a second time in order to fund the purchase of a Duesenberg. Last issued with a MOT test certificate by Chiltern Autos Ltd on May 3rd 1962, the Autovia has been in the current ownership for the last forty-four years. Carefully dry stored for much of that time, it appears to have been very well preserved. The engine which is said to have been “running perfectly well” when the Autovia was taken off the road was later stripped down and inspected.

1938 Autovia V8 Mulliner Limousine

1938 Autovia V8 Mulliner Limousine

Today, it contains clean oil and “turns easily on the starting handle” (though, the unit has not run for a long time due to concerns over the age of various seals and bearings etc). Although scruffy the black paintwork has done a good job of protecting the bodywork which seems substantially sound. While inside the beige leather upholstery, biscuit headlining and wood veneers all exude a wonderful patina. From the geometric patterns on its door cards to the delightful intricacy of its boot-hinge design, the Autovia is awash with charming details. Riding on nineteen-inch wire wheels, it sports Lucas supplied tri-bar headlights / spotlights / horns, twin Cornercroft ‘Ace’ spare wheel covers and a boot-mounted tool kit (incomplete). Displayed at the 1986 Coventry Riley Rally to celebrate Autovia’s fiftieth anniversary, the Sports Saloon has been written-up by the Riley Club and is known to the marque register. A potentially rewarding restoration project and a true Post Vintage Thoroughbred, ‘GHX 1’ is offered for sale with the aforementioned buff logbook and expired MOT certificate as well as an owner’s handbook, V5 registration document, starting handle and sundry paperwork.

PLEASE NOTE: Since the catalogue went to press we have been contacted by Gordon Thomas of the Autovia Car Club who has kindly provided the following extra information “I would like you to know that as far as I am aware this is the only Special Saloon manufactured and it was displayed on the 1937 Motor Show stand. I think all the other saloons were tagged Sports. The distinction is that the Special saloon had more legroom, a smaller boot and a different contour round the back quarter. Also it was offered for the same price as the Limousine (995) rather than the lesser saloon price of 975.

There were actually 44 cars made (I cannot tell you the split between Saloons and Limousines but I think it was heavily biased towards saloons). For a long time there was a theory that only 36 were manufactured but since I have been involved we have satisfied ourselves that there was a complete run from 63101 to 63144. The suspect empty run from 63113 to 63120 has now been populated with 4 cars (3,4,6 & 8) suggesting that there were no gaps in production. Of the production cars I can identify there were 29 saloons, 1 special saloon and 5 limousines. I have no definite record of the other 9 cars”.

– See more at:

1938 Autovia FrontSporting open two-seater

Autovia V8 4-Light Sports Saloon - EYU 482

Autovia V8 4-Light Sports Saloon – EYU 482

Autovia V8

Autovia V8



1937 Autovia V8 02

1937 Autovia V8

1936 autovia.jpg

1936 autovia

1937 Autovia Sport Saloon by Mulliner - 1 of 1 Ever Built

1937 Autovia Sport Saloon by Mulliner – 1 of 1 Ever Built

1939 Autovia 3-Litre

1939 Autovia 3-Litre

1939 Autovia Limo

1939 Autovia Limo

1936 autovia logo

That’s it !

BUGATTI VEYRON Automobiles Molsheim, Alsace, France


Industry Automotive
Fate Sold to Hispano-Suiza (1963)
Sold to Volkswagen Group(July 1998)
Successor Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.
Founded 1909
Founder Ettore Bugatti
Defunct 1963
Headquarters Molsheim, Alsace, France
Key people
Products Automobiles
120 million (2008 est.)

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti was a French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, founded in 1909 in the then German city of Molsheim, Alsace by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti. Bugatti cars were known for their design beauty (Ettore Bugatti was from a family of artists and considered himself to be both an artist and constructor) and for their many race victories. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 “Royale”, the Type 57 “Atlantic” and the Type 55 sports car.

The death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947 proved to be the end for the marque, and the death of his son Jean Bugatti in 1939 ensured there was not a successor to lead the factory. No more than about 8,000 cars were made. The company struggled financially, and released one last model in the 1950s, before eventually being purchased for its airplane parts business in the 1960s. In the 1990s, an Italian entrepreneur revived it as a builder of limited production exclusive sports cars. Today, the name is owned by German automobile manufacturing group Volkswagen.

Under Ettore Bugatti

Founder Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy, and the automobile company that bears his name was founded in 1909 in Molsheim located in the Alsace region which was part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1919. The company was known both for the level of detail of its engineering in its automobiles, and for the artistic way in which the designs were executed, given the artistic nature of Ettore’s family (his father, Carlo Bugatti (1856–1940), was an important Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry designer).

World War I and its aftermath

During the war Ettore Bugatti was sent away, initially to Milan and later to Paris, but as soon as hostilities had been concluded he returned to his factory at Molsheim. Less than four months after the Versailles Treaty formalised the transfer of Alsace from Germany to France, Bugatti was able to obtain, at the last minute, a stand at the 15th Paris motor show in October 1919. He exhibited three light cars, all of them closely based on their pre-war equivalents, and each fitted with the same overhead camshaft 4-cylinder 1,368cc engine with four valves per cylinder. Smallest of the three was a “Type 13” with a racing body (constructed by Bugatti themselves) and using a chassis with a 2,000 mm (78.7 in) wheelbase. The others were a “Type 22” and a “Type 23” with wheelbases of 2,250 and 2,400 mm (88.6 and 94.5 in) respectively.

Racing successes

The company also enjoyed great success in early Grand Prix motor racing: in 1929 a privately entered Bugatti won the first ever Monaco Grand Prix. Racing success culminated with driver Jean-Pierre Wimille winning the 24 hours of Le Mans twice (in 1937 with Robert Benoist and 1939 with Pierre Veyron).

Bugatti cars were extremely successful in racing. The little Bugatti Type 10 swept the top four positions at its first race. The 1924 Bugatti Type 35 is probably the most successful racing car of all time, with over 2,000 wins. The Type 35 was developed by Bugatti with master engineer and racing driver Jean Chassagne who also drove it in the car’s first ever Grand Prix in 1924 Lyon. Bugattis swept to victory in the Targa Florio for five years straight from 1925 through 1929. Louis Chiron held the most podiums in Bugatti cars, and the modern marque revival Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. named the 1999 Bugatti 18/3 Chiron concept car in his honour. But it was the final racing success at Le Mans that is most remembered—Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron won the 1939 race with just one car and meagre resources.

Aeroplane racing

In the 1930s, Ettore Bugatti got involved in the creation of a racer airplane, hoping to beat the Germans in the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. This would be the Bugatti 100P, which never flew. It was designed by Belgian engineer Louis de Monge who had already applied Bugatti Brescia engines in his “Type 7.5” lifting body.


Ettore Bugatti also designed a successful motorised railcar, the Autorail (Autorail Bugatti).

Autorail Bugatti

 Autorail Bugatti
Autorail Bugatti, conservé à Mulhouse

Présidentiel conservé à Mulhouse.

Exploitant(s) État, AL, PLM
Désignation Wagon Rapide (WR)
Type autorail
Constructeur(s) Ettore Bugatti
Nombre 88 (1 préservé)
Service commercial de 1933 à 1958
Caractéristiques techniques
Disposition des essieux DD
Moteur 4 à essence
 Cylindres 8 cyl. en ligne
 Distribution 1 a.c. en tête
 Puissance 147 kW
(200 ch)
à 2000 tr/min
 Transmission hydromécanique
Diamètre roues motrices 710 mm
Masse en service 38 t
 Longueur 21,08 m
Vitesse maximale 172 km/h
Vue du poste de conduite de l’autorail Bugatti

C’est en 1932, que l’autorail Bugatti (le Wagon Rapide WR, d’après la dénomination du constructeur) est conçu par le bureau d’études d’Ettore Bugatti. En 9 mois, cet automoteur est construit avec des techniques issues de l’automobile, pour écouler les moteurs de la Bugatti Type 41 «Royale», voiture de prestige qui était un échec commercial.


La motorisation de l’autorail est assurée par 4 moteurs à essence, 8 cylindres en ligne de 12 750 cm3, un arbre à cames en tête, alimenté par 2 carburateurs Zenith : la puissance de chaque moteur est de 200 ch à2 000 tr/min pour le ferroviaire.

Les moteurs sont accouplés par paire, en prise directe avec une transmission hydromécanique sur des bogies à 4 essieux à roues « élastiques ». La caisse est légère et aérodynamique, les freins sont à tambour. La cabine de conduite est disposée en kiosque (dépassant de la toiture), au centre de l’élément, juste au-dessus des 4 moteurs.


Bugatti Affiche Paris-Lyon 4h50 Automotrice rapide Bugatti

Affiche du PLM.

1935 Affiche Bugatti Record

Record du monde de vitesse en 1935.

Cet autorail est l’un des premiers trains rapides modernes au monde. Le premier prototype construit en Alsace, fut prêt au printemps 1933 et les performances furent spectaculaires : 172 kilomètres à l’heure en essai.

Le premier modèle (mono caisse pour 48 voyageurs) est mis en service par le réseau de l’État sur ParisDeauville en mai 1933 qu’il assure à la moyenne de 116 kilomètres à l’heure. En février 1934 le 2e autorail est livré. Entre ces deux dates le réseau de l’État, par l’intermédiaire de son directeur Raoul Dautry, avait passé commande de deux autres autorails qui seront livrés en juillet et octobre 1934. Le 24 octobre 1934, l’un des deux premiers autorails atteint 192 kilomètres à l’heure entre Le Mans et Connerré. En mai 1934 l’État commanda une nouvelle série de 5 exemplaires.

Ils furent utilisés par les réseaux de l’État, du PLM, d’Alsace-Lorraine (AL) puis par la SNCF. Néanmoins l’exploitation est considérée rapidement comme trop coûteuse compte tenu de la très forte consommation, de la hausse du prix du carburant et d’une fiabilité imparfaite.

La fin du retrait du service commercial a eu lieu en 1958.

Au total, 88 autorails ont été construits en différents modèles :

  • 9 WR simples « Présidentiel » pour l’État,
  • 3 WR doubles pour le PLM,
  • 7 WR triples (2 État, 2 AL et 3 SNCF),
  • 13 WL[*] courts (5 État, 2 AL et 6 PLM),
  • 28 WL allongés (18 PLM et 10 État),
  • 28 WL surallongés (15 État, 1 AL, 10 PLM et 2 SNCF),
  • 5 remorques pour WR simple pour l’État.

[*] Le WL (Wagon Léger) n’était équipé que de deux moteurs Royal-41 soit 400 ch.


Bugatti ZZA K 1

WR double ZZA K 1 du PLM.

  • Les 13 WL courts seront tous transformés en remorques après 1945.
  • Les WL et WR doubles et triples étaient équipés de boîtes Cotal à deux vitesses pour faciliter le démarrage qui était laborieux en prise directe.
  • Les freins bien qu’efficaces, avaient l’inconvénient d’user très rapidement les garnitures des tambours.
  • La visibilité depuis le poste de conduite surélevé était médiocre (surtout sur les WR doubles et triples).
  • On peut voir un autorail Bugatti à la fin du film La Bête humaine.

Patrimoine préservé

Un exemplaire du Bugatti dit « Présidentiel » (car utilisé par le Président Albert Lebrun pour son déplacement à l’inauguration de la gare maritime de Cherbourg) est conservé à la Cité du train de Mulhouse. Cet autorail immatriculé ZZy 24408 à l’État puis XB 1008 à la SNCF est un ancien véhicule du parc de service où il assurait le contrôle du fonctionnement des signaux jusqu’en 1970, date de sa radiation. Profondément modifié, il accueille un véritable petit laboratoire : trois alternateurs produisent du courant alternatif pour envoyer dans les voies, diverses batteries, voltmètres, ampèremètres, oscilloscopes… et quatre couchettes pour permettre l’hébergement du personnel lors des arrêts prolongés dans les petites localités1.

Un deuxième Bugatti a longtemps été garé à Bédarieux puis Lodève. Oublié par la SNCF sur une voie de service, il avait été racheté par une association en vue de la création d’un petit musée ferroviaire. Il fut finalement ferraillé, et non enseveli sous le terrassement du nouveau tracé de Route Nationale 9 comme on peut le lire trop souvent.

Bugatti ZZ K 201-218-plan

Plan du WL allongé ZZ K 201 à 218 du PLM.

Family tragedy

The death of Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean Bugatti, on 11 August 1939 marked a turning point in the company’s fortunes. Jean died while testing a Type 57 tank-bodied race car near the Molsheim factory.

1936 Bugatti Type 57G Tank fvr3

1936 Bugatti Type 57G Tank fvr3

Bugatti Type 32 Tank

Type 57 tank-bodied race car

After World War II

World War II left the Molsheim factory in ruins and the company lost control of the property. During the war, Bugatti planned a new factory at Levallois, a northwestern suburb of Paris. After the war, Bugatti designed and planned to build a series of new cars, including the Type 73 road car and Type 73C single seat racing car, but in all Bugatti built only five Type 73 cars.

Development of a 375 cc supercharged car was stopped when Ettore Bugatti died on 21 August 1947. Following Ettore Bugatti’s death, the business declined further and made its last appearance as a business in its own right at a Paris Motor Show in October 1952.

After a long decline, the original incarnation of Bugatti ceased operations in 1952.


Bugattis are noticeably focused on design. Engine blocks were hand scraped to ensure that the surfaces were so flat that gaskets were not required for sealing, many of the exposed surfaces of the engine compartment featured guilloché (engine turned) finishes on them, and safety wires had been threaded through almost every fastener in intricately laced patterns. Rather than bolt the springs to the axles as most manufacturers did, Bugatti’s axles were forged such that the spring passed though a carefully sized opening in the axle, a much more elegant solution requiring fewer parts. He famously described his arch competitor Bentley‘s cars as “the world’s fastest lorries” for focusing on durability. According to Bugatti, “weight was the enemy”.

Important models built

Prototypes Racing cars Road cars


Relatives of Harold Carr found a rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante when cataloguing the doctor’s belongings after his death in 2009. Carr’s Type 57S is notable because it was originally owned by British race car driver Earl Howe. Because much of the car’s original equipment is intact, it can be restored without relying on replacement parts.

On 10 July 2009, a 1925 Bugatti Brescia Type 22 which had lain at the bottom of Lake Maggiore on the border of Switzerland and Italy for 75 years was recovered from the lake. The Mullin Museum in Oxnard, California bought it at auction for $351,343 at Bonham’s Rétromobile sale in Paris in 2010.

Attempts at revival

The company attempted a comeback under Roland Bugatti in the mid-1950s with the mid-engined Type 251 race car. Designed with help from Gioacchino Colombo, the car failed to perform to expectations and the company’s attempts at automobile production were halted.

In the 1960s, Virgil Exner designed a Bugatti as part of his “Revival Cars” project. A show version of this car was actually built by Ghia using the last Bugatti Type 101 chassis, and was shown at the 1965 Turin Motor Show. Finance was not forthcoming, and Exner then turned his attention to a revival of Stutz.

Bugatti continued manufacturing airplane parts and was sold to Hispano-Suiza, also a former auto maker turned aircraft supplier, in 1963. Snecma took over Hispano-Suiza in 1968. After acquiring Messier, Snecma merged Messier and Bugatti into Messier-Bugatti in 1977.

Modern revivals

Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. (1987–1995)

Bugatti Automobili factory in Campogalliano

View of the assembly line building of the Bugatti Automobili factory in Campogalliano

1996 Bugatti EB110

Bugatti EB110 (1996)

Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli acquired the Bugatti brand in 1987, and established Bugatti Automobili S.p.A.. Artioli commissioned architect Giampaolo Benedini to design the factory which was built in Campogalliano, Modena, Italy. Construction of the plant began in 1988, alongside the development of the first model, and it was inaugurated two years later—in 1990.

By 1989 the plans for the new Bugatti revival were presented by Paolo Stanzani and Marcello Gandini, designers of the Lamborghini Miura and Lamborghini Countach. The first production vehicle was the Bugatti EB110 GT. It used a carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer chassis, a 3.5-litre, 5-valve per cylinder, quad-turbocharged 60° V12 engine, a six-speed gearbox, and four-wheel drive.

Famed racing car designer Mauro Forghieri served as Bugatti’s technical director from 1992 through 1994.

On 27 August 1993, through his holding company, ACBN Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, Romano Artioli purchased Lotus Cars from General Motors. Plans were made to list Bugatti shares on international stock exchanges.

Bugatti presented a prototype large saloon called the EB112 in 1993.

Perhaps the most famous Bugatti EB110 owner was seven-time Formula One World Champion racing driver Michael Schumacher who purchased an EB110 in 1994. Schumacher sold his EB110, which had been repaired after a severe 1994 crash, to Modena Motorsport, a Ferrari service and race preparation garage in Germany.

By the time the EB110 came to market, the North American and European economies were in recession. Poor economic conditions forced the company to fail and operations ceased in September 1995. A model specific to the US market called the “Bugatti America” was in the preparatory stages when the company ceased operations.

Bugatti’s liquidators sold Lotus Cars to Proton of Malaysia. German firm Dauer Racing purchased the EB110 licence and remaining parts stock in 1997 in order to produce five more EB110 SS vehicles. These five SS versions of the EB110 were greatly refined by Dauer. The Campogalliano factory was sold to a furniture-making company, which subsequently collapsed before moving in, leaving the building unoccupied. After Dauer stopped producing cars in 2011, Toscana-Motors GmbH of Germany purchased the remaining parts stock from Dauer.

Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. (1998–present)

Volkswagen AG acquired the Bugatti brand in 1998.

Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. commissioned Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign to produce Bugatti Automobiles’s first concept vehicle, the EB118, a coupé that debuted at the 1998 Paris Auto Show. The EB118 concept featured a 408-kilowatt (555 PS; 547 bhp), W-18 engine. After its Paris debut, the EB118 concept was shown again in 1999 at the Geneva Auto Show and the Tokyo Motor Show.

Bugatti introduced its next concepts, the EB 218 at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show and the 18/3 Chiron at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA).

Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. began assembling its first regular-production vehicle, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 (the 1001 BHP super car with an 8-litre W-16 engine with four turbochargers) in September 2005 at the Bugatti Molsheim, France assembly “studio”. On 23 February 2015, Bugatti sold its last Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, which was named La Finale.

See also

Bugatti Type 13

Bugatti Type 13 Brescia Sport-Racing 1922

The Type 13 was the first real Bugatti car. Production of the Type 13 and later Types 15, 17, 22, and 23, began with the company’s founding in 1910 and lasted through 1920 with 435 examples produced. Most road cars used an 8-valve engine, though five Type 13 racers had 16-valve heads, one of the first ever produced. The road cars became known as “pur-sang” (“thoroughbred“) in keeping with Ettore Bugatti’s feelings for his designs.

The car was brought back after World War I with multi-valve engines to bring fame to the marque at Brescia. The production “Brescia Tourer” also brought in much-needed cash.


Type 10

The Bugatti automobile was prototyped as the Type 10 in Ettore Bugatti‘s basement in 1908 and 1909 while he was chief engineer at Deutz Gasmotoren Fabrik in Cologne, Germany.

The Type 10 used a monobloc straight-four engine of Ettore’s own design. it was an overhead cam unit with 2 valves per cylinder, highly advanced for the time. A very-undersquare design, it had a 60 mm bore and 100 mm stroke for a total of 1.1 L (1131 cc/69 in3). This was attached to an open roadster body with solid axles front and rear. Leaf springs suspended the front with no suspension at all in the rear. Cables operated rear drum brakes.

On ending his contract with Deutz, Ettore loaded his family into the Type 10 and headed to the Alsace region, then still part of the German Empire looking for a factory to begin producing cars of his own. After World War I, Alsace became a part of France again, and with it Bugatti.

The car was preserved and nicknamed “la baignoire” (“the bathtub”) by the staff at Molsheim in later years due to its shape. Ettore restored it in 1939 and repainted it an orange-red color, earning it a new nickname, “le homard” (“the lobster”). It was moved to Bordeaux for the duration of World War II and remained there for decades before falling into private ownership. Today, the car is in California in the hands of a private collector.

Type 13

Upon starting operations at his new factory in Molsheim, Bugatti refined his light shaft-driven car into the Type 13 racer. This included boring the engine out to 65 mm for a total of 1.4 L (1368 cc/83 in3). A major advance was the 4-valve head Bugatti designed — one of the first of its type ever conceived. Power output with dual Zenith Carburetters reached 30 hp (22 kW) at 4500 rpm, more than adequate for the 660 lb (300 kg) car. Leaf springs were now fitted all around, and the car rode on a roughly 2 m (79 in) wheelbase.

The new company produced five examples in 1910, and entered the French Grand Prix at Le Mans in 1911. The tiny Bugatti looked out of place at the race, but calmly took second place after seven hours of racing.

World War I caused production to halt in the disputed region. Ettore took two completed Type 13 cars with him to Milan for the duration of the war, leaving the parts for three more buried near the factory. After the war, Bugatti returned, unearthed the parts, and prepared five Type 13s for racing.

Type 15

The Type 15 was a version of the Type 13 with a long 2400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase. It had a six-sided radiator in front and semi-elliptic rear leaf springs.

Type 17

Another version, the Type 17, was also produced. This used a 2550 mm (100.4 in) wheelbase. It shared its hexagonal radiator and rear springs with the Type 15.

Type 22

1913 Bugatti type 22 carrosserie Vinet

Bugatti 1913, model T22, 3 seat vinet boday

The Type 15 was updated in 1913 as the Type 22. It had a larger roadgoing body, an oval radiator, and quarter-circle springs.

Type 23

A 2-valve version of the Type 17 with a boat-tail body was built in 1913 as the Type 23. It also had the oval radiator of the Type 22.


Type 13 Brescia

A Grand Prix for Voiturettes at Le Mans was the only French event of 1920, and Bugatti entered the two completed cars from Milan and one more from the remaining parts. Ettore’s illegal act of placing a hand on the radiator cap during the race brought disqualification to the leading car, however.

The Type 13 was unbeatable. Bugatti’s cars placed 1, 2, 3, 4 at the Brescia Grand Prix in 1921, and orders poured in. Capitalizing on this victory, all subsequent 4-valve Bugatti models would bear the Brescia moniker.

These were the only Bugatti models to locate the carburettor on the left hand side of the engine and the exhaust on the right. Front wheel brakes were added in 1926.

Type 23 Brescia Tourer

1921 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia two-Seater Boattail

 Bugatti Type 23 Brescia two-Seater Boattail 1921

Bugatti capitalized on the racing success of the Type 13 “Brescia” with the full-production post-war Brescia Tourer. It used the multi-valve Brescia engine, and 2,000 examples were built from 1920 through 1926, making it the first full-production multi-valve car ever made.

Bugatti Prototypes

This is a list of prototype vehicles created by Bugatti that never reached full production.

Type 36

The Type 36 racer, produced in 1925, introduced a new 1.5 L (1493 cc/91 in³) straight-8 engine. With a 60 by 66 mm bore and stroke, the engine later found a place in the Type 39A, though the Type 36 project was more of an experiment. At first, the rear axle was bolted directly to the frame with no springs. In 1926, Bugatti added both springs and a supercharger to the Type 36. This was the experimental base for the Type 35C.

Type 45

The 16-cylinder Type 45 racing car and similar Type 47 “Grand Sport” were to become a new generation of cars from Bugatti. The engine, a 3-valve SOHC design, was based on the 3-valve straight-8 from the Type 35. Two versions were made: A 3.0 L (2986 cc/182 in³) version fitted to a Type 47 prototype shared the Type 36‘s 60 by 66 mm dimensions, while the Type 45 prototype used a unique 84 mm stroke for 3.8 L (3801 cc/231 in³). Output would have been 200 to 250 hp (149 to 186 kW) with a Roots-type supercharger in play.

The entire vehicle was unique, including its chassis. The Type 45 used a 102.2 in (2596 mm) wheelbase, while the Type 47 was stretched to 108.3 in (2750 mm). Both had a 49.2 in (1250 mm) track.

Type 56

The Type 56 was an electric vehicle like some of Ettore Bugatti’s earliest designs. The number built is controversial; six seems the most likely answer. The first 56 was used as Bugatti’s personal runabout at the Molsheim factory.

The Type 56 was originally designed for private use by Ettore Bugatti as a factory runabout, but due to popular demand from previous customers convinced him to put the vehicle into production. The Type 56 was a tiny 2-seat open car very much in the style of turn-of-the-century horseless carriages or voiturettes. Power came from a single 28 amp electric motor producing 1 hp (0.8 kW). Energy was stored in six 6 volt accumulators in series for a total of 36 volts.

The motor was mounted directly to the frame and drove the rear wheels through gears. Electric braking was allowed, and both hand- and foot-brakes operated on rear wheel drums. Four forward speeds were available, and the vehicle could accelerate to 28 km/h (17.4 mph). Steering was by tiller.

Ettore Bugatti’s personal Type 56 is part of the collection at the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse.

Type 64

The Bugatti Type 64 was an Atlantic-style coupe produced in 1939 with gull-wing doors, designed by Jean Bugatti. It was fitted with a 4.4 L (4432 cc/270 in³) 2-valve DOHC straight-8 engine and rode on a 130 in (3300 mm) wheelbase. Three cars were started, but only one body was finished, although the car was not completed.

Type 73C

Begun in 1943 and completed in 1947 after the war, the Type 73C was to be a comeback for Bugatti. But the death of Ettore Bugatti in August of that year doomed the project. An engine-less Type 73 was shown at the 1947 Paris Motor Show two months later. Although five 73C chassis had been constructed in Paris, Only one body was completed for these cars and at least three engines and one complete car were assembled and tested by the factory. Serge Pozzoli stated that he visited the Bugatti factory at Rue Debarcadere in Paris where he saw a demonstration car which was fitted with a scaled down body similar to the pre-war Type 50BIII (Cork Car). All the cars were dismantled and taken to Molsheim after Ettore Bugatti’s death.

The Type 73C used a new 1.5 L (1488 cc/90 in³) straight-4 engine with 4 valves per cylinder and a twin overhead camshaft. This was a new design with a 76 mm bore and 95 mm stroke, wet cylinder liners, a detachable cylinder head, and a single cast iron exhaust manifold. Much to the chagrin of Bugatti purists, the Type 73 used off-the-shelf hex fasteners rather than the custom-designed parts used in all previous cars.

The five Type 73C chassis were sold off after the company exited automobile production. Most were later assembled, and one (number 2) was even given a body based on the original Bugatti drawings.

There are several prototype Type 73 Bugatti models.

Type 73: Touring two- or four-seater; four-cylinder, twin overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder

Type 73A: Touring two- or four-seater four-cylinder Single ovehead camshaft with three valves per cylinder.

Type 73C: Grand Prix single seater: The engine fitted to this car is similar to the Type 73

Type 73B: touring two- or four-seater: Similar engine to the Type 73 but with single overhead camshaft.

Type 251 – 1955

1956 Bugatti Type 251

Bugatti Type 251

The final resurgence of the original Bugatti was the Type 251, completed in 1955. Designed by Gioacchino Colombo of Ferrari fame, it was powered by a new 2.5 L (2486 cc/151 in³) straight-8. Uniquely, this engine was mounted transversely, behind the driver. For the first time in a Bugatti, an oversquare engine was used with a 76 mm bore and 68.5 mm stroke. A de Dion tube rear suspension was also a novelty for the company, though it was in vogue at the time. The Type 251 was entered in the 1956 French Grand Prix, driven by Maurice Trintignant, but was not competitive and retired after 18 laps.


  1. Jump up^ “Type 56 (Electric Vehicle)”. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  2. Jump up^ 1939 Bugatti Type 64 Coupe is incomplete perfection
  3. Jump up^ Mullin Automotive Museum To Unveil 1939 Bugatti Type 64 Coupe At The Quail
  4. Jump up^ Mullin Completes 1939 Bugatti Type 64
  5. Jump up^ 70-year-old Bugatti Type 64 chassis gets a body, the old-fashioned way
  6. Jump up^ Grand Prix Racing – the whole story

Bugatti 8-cylinder line

Bugatti Type 30 –  1929
1929 Bugatti Type 49 Tourer
Manufacturer Bugatti
Also called Type 38, 40, 43, 44, and 49
Production 1922–1934
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Successor Bugatti Type 57

The early Bugatti 8-cylinder line began with the 1922 Type 30. The same basic design was used for the 1926 Type 38 as well as the Type 40, Type 43, Type 44, and Type 49.

Type 30

Produced from 1922 through 1926, the Type 30 used the 2 L (1991 cc/121 in³) engine of the Type 29 racer. It shared its chassis (including the axles and gearbox) with the Type 13 “Brescia”. This engine went on to be used in the cut-cost Type 35A and Type 38. About 600 were built from late 1922 through 1926 in varying specifications.

Type 38

The Type 38 was produced in 1926 and 1927. It used the 2 L (1991 cc/121 in³) engine from the Type 35A “Tecla”. The supercharger from the Type 37A was later fitted, making the Type 38A. Its gearbox and brakes were later used in the Type 40, while its radiator and axles were shared with the Type 43.

385 examples were produced, 39 of which were supercharged 38As.

1929 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport Tourer

Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport Tourer 1929

1927 Bugatti Type 40

Bugatti Type 40 1927