This was the largest and most luxurious car ever made in the late 20s and the early 30s, is a 1930 Bugatti Type 41 Royale also known as the Coupé De Ville Napoleon
History of Bugatti
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 [clarification needed]) 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.
The Bugatti Royale
The Type 41 Royale was Ettore Bugatti’s most luxurious and extreme car. It was designed for heads of state and massive chauffeur-driven bodies. Thus, it was the largest Bugatti both in length and engine displacement.
It was also Bugatti’s most exclusive model. Only six were ever manufactured and each had considerable presence due to their massive and distinct bodies. These typically had long, sweeping fenders that hugged 24-inch aluminum wheels.
Powering the Royale was a 12.7-liter, straight-8 engine that produced 300 bhp. This was enough power to haul a 7000 lb limousine or whatever body that was affixed to it. Bugatti had to use a nine-bearing crankshaft and a single modified carburettor.
Initial production was slated for 25 units, but much less where made due to the depression. This exclusivity has made these cars the most desirable in the world. Even when new, a Royale with a roadster body by Weinberger was $43,000 USD.
Each Royale received a standing elephant mascot for its radiator cap. These were cast from an original sculpture by Ettore’s younger brother, Rembrandt Bugatti who was one of the premier animal sculptors of the era.
Total production of the Type 41 is still up for debate since we have six original cars, 11 total bodies and and a crashed prototype. Of the cars manufactured, only three went to actual owners while the rest where kept by the Bugatti family for some time. The project wasn’t a complete loss as Bugatti eventually sold 25 Royale engines to power the French Autorail.
Coupé De Ville Napoleon
The first prototype, chassis 41100, was completed in 1927. It featured engineering traits from Bugatti’s eight-cylinder Grand Prix cars including their cast aluminum wheels with built-in brake drums. This first car initially wore a Packard body, and two subsequent bodies before being nearly destroyed in an accident. It later became the famous Coupé De Ville Napoleon as designed by Ettore’s son Jean Bugatti at the age of 21. At that time 41100 may have been wearing it’s fifth body, and it was produced from 1927 to 1933.
This extravagant limousine was fashioned specifically for Ettore himself. It had a split skylight and a wood-rimmed interior with plush upholstery. Every detail was thoroughly considered and a speedometer was even included for the passengers.
Currently, the Coupé De Ville Napoleon is the most valuable car in the world. Ettore used the car up until his death in 1947. It eventually ended up with the Schlumpf brothers and still resides as a highlight in their Mulhouse Museum which is now preserved by the government as the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse.
The Kellener-bodied Royale, 100141, still holds the world record for fetching $8 700 000 USD at Christie’s Auction in 1983. When adjusted for inflation, this price would be over $16 million, a price which only other Royales or the first Rolls Royce Silver Ghost could eclipse.
In 1985, Pebble Beach hosted a fantastic reunion that brought together all six of the surviving Royales. This feat was again attempted in 2007 by the Goodwood Festival of Speed but they failed to get the Berline de Voyage car out of the Blackhawk Collection.
Story by Richard Owen
Submitted by Richard Owen
Built at Molsheim, France
Body stylist Jean Bugatti
Engineers Ettore Bugatti
Price $ $ $43,000 USD
Engine Twin-Spark Inline-8
Position Front Longitudinal
Block material Cast Iron
Valvetrain SOHC, 3 Valves per Cyl
Fuel feed Single Custom Carburettor
Displacement 12763 cc / 778.85 in³
Bore 125 mm / 4.9 in
Stroke 130 mm / 5.1 in
Power 223.7 kw / 300 bhp @ 3000 rpm
Specific output 23.51 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 94.4 bhp per tonne
Rorque 785 nm / 579.0 ft lbs
Body / frame Body one Steel Ladder Frame
Driven wheels RWD
Wheel type Aluminum
Front tires 6.75×36
Rear tires 6.75×36
Front brakes Drums
Rear brakes Drums
F suspension Solid Axle w/Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Friction Dampers
R suspension Live Axle w/Reversed Quarter-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Friction Dampers
Curb weight 3178 kg / 7000 lbs
Wheelbase 4300 mm / 169.3 in
Length 6400.8 mm / 252 in
Transmission 3-Speed Manual
Top speed ~160 kph / 99.4 mph
City fuel econ epa 157 L/100 km or 157 mpg-us
Hwy fuel econ epa 34 L/100 km or 34 mpg-us