Vintage & Classics

The Bugatti Type 41 Royale was a beast of massive proportions, even by today's standards

Bugatti Type 41 Royale Park Ward on display at Cité de l"Automobile national museum in Mullhouse.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

With a price tag starting around $6 million (2020 USD) when it was new, the Bugatti Type 41 Royale was easily one of the most expensive vehicles ever made. In its heyday, it was also one of the largest and most luxurious.

For that price, buyers received a chassis with the drive and grille. The Type 41 Royale had a wheelbase of over 169 inches and an overall length of over 236 inches (that's 33 inches inches longer than a modern Honda Odyssey). The first prototype of the vehicle was built in 1926 and it was even longer than the first production measurements.

Bugatti Type 41 Royale Roadster\u200b

The Bugatti Type 41 Royale Roadster is shown off in a park.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Coachbuilding companies including Kellern & Cie, Weymann, Binder, Weinberger, and Park Ward then took possession of the components to complete construction.

The vehicle was wholly unique. Bugatti founder Ettore Bugatti designed an aircraft engine in 1927 on the behalf of the French government. It wasn't as strange an ask as it might seem on the surface. While he was displaced during World War One, Bugatti had spent his time designing aircrafts. After the war, he designed a railcar and continued his work on planes alongside automobiles.

Under the Type 41 Royale's hood was an engine befitting the car's size, a 12.8-liter inline eight-cylinder that achieved 300 horsepower. The initial design called for a 14.7-liter engine that was able to get the same horsepower. The 12.8-liter power plant moved the car, which could weigh as much as 3.5 tons, to about 200 km/h.

The engine was connected to a dry sump lubrications system that pumped 23 liters of oil to the required points. It required 43 liters of collar oil to keep the engine temperature just right. A vertical shaft connected the crankshaft and camshaft together, and the long crankshaft sat on nine plain bearings. To open the hood, it took two fitters to unlock it and fold it up.

\u200bBugatti Type 41 Weymann coach

This Royale model was owned by the Bugatti family and used as a daily driver.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

The rear-wheel drive car's multi-plate dry clutch was shifted Bia a three-speed manual gearbox.

Bugatti's buyers required comfort. The company doubled the quarter elliptical suspension on the axles in order to achieve a better ride. Solid alloy wheels with slots ensured that the large brake drums did not overheat and a 200-liter gas tank ensure that the car could make it from Point A to Point B and beyond.

Though the first prototype was built in 1926, it wasn't until 1932 that Bugatti sold the first production model. Parisian industrialist Armand Esders. Esders was a unique fellow, an Antwerp native who had been sent to New York after college with a million gold francs (upwards of $2.2 million in 2020 USD) in his account with which to start a business.

Upon his return to France, Esders implemented a streamlined approach to mass manufacturing ready-to-wear clothing that was then sold at a variety of chain stores throughout Europe.

Jean Bugatti Royale

Jean Bugatti, the son of Bugatti owner Ettore, stands next to a Royale.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Esders had a passion for aviation and motoring. He hosted car manufacturer André Citroën and the aircraft manufacturer Henri Farman at his estate. And he owned several planes and 20 motor vehicles, including the Bugatti model that would become known as the Coupé Esders.

Ettore Bugatti's son Jean was put in charge of the coachbuilding of the Esders Royale. He gave the car large wings that ran the length of the body, a dickey seat, and eschewed headlamps. This style model became known as the Esters Roadster.

Three other vehicles with different bodies went into customer hands. Overall, a Cabriolet, a Pullman limousine, a travel limousine with a folding top and a two-door limousine were built in the few years to come. In the Coupé Napoleon, owned by Ettore and used as a personal car for a number of decades, the passenger communicated with the driver via an electrical intercom.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

This 1932 Type 41 Royale, formerly owned by Esders, was shown at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Royale is the only Bugatti vehicle to ever have a hood ornament. It features a dancing elephant, designed by Ettore's deceased brother Rembrandt Bugatti, a well-known artist and sculptor.

The global economic crisis of the 1930s prevented the Royale from becoming a success. Through 1933, only six models were built. Only four were sold.

Today, all six still exist. The prototype model was destroyed in an accident in 1932. The Bugatti family's Coupé Napoleon and the Limousine Park Ward, chassis 41100 and 41131 respectively, reside in the Musée National de l'Automobile de Mulhous.

The Royale Esders Roadster was renamed the Coupé de ville Binder and rebodied. It was slated to be sold to the King of Romania but World War II stopped those plans. Instead, it went to England for a few years then was brought to the U.S. and rotated among several owners. In 1999 it was purchased by Volkswagen AG, the parent company of Bugatti, and is currently used as a show vehicle.

Chassis 41121 was dubbed the Cabriolet Weinberger and lived a colorful life, traveling the world with owner Josef Fuchs, a German obstetrician. Collector Charles Chayne, who would later become vice-president of Corporate Engineering at General Motors, found the car in a scrap yard in New York in 1946 and purchased it for $75. Today, the car resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

The two unsold Bugattis, chassis 41100 and 41150, were named the Kellner car and Berline de Voyage, respectively. They were bricked up during World War II to keep them from being procured by the Nazis. Following the war, the cars were sold together to American Le Mans racer Briggs Cunningham, in return for the equivalent of $571 USD and a pair of new General Electric refrigerators. Today, the models are under private ownership.

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Photo courtesy of DM Historics

The Bentley 3 Litre is one of the greatest historic race cars of all time, but you might not think that based on a first glance. It was a Le Mans champion in the early days of the contest winning in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 beating the famously fast Bugattis of the era.

Bentley first built the car in 1919, debuted it at the Olympia Motor Exhibition, and made it available to coach builders a few years later. The cars were produced in Red Label, Blue Label, and Green Label formats with the Green Label models being the rarest and most highly specialized for racing.

DM Historics has taken Bentley 3 Litre chassis 589 (of approximately 1,600) and expertly overhauled. There's only 12,700 miles on the odometer of the model and it has a long Bentley Drivers Club history. The car served duty as the pilot car for the BDC Jubilee Run in 1969 as well as featuring heavily in the "Bentley Golden Jubilee Book 1919 -1969".

1924 Bentley 3 Litre, Chassis 589

Photo courtesy of DM Historics

History tells that the first owner of this Bentley was W H B Moorehead a magistrate from Newry, who had it finish in a four-seater combination.

The historic racing engineers in charge of the project starting in on the overhaul in 2018. The extensive renovation restored the car to a near factory standard, taking it back to very near the condition it was when it rolled off the line in 1924. Work was done cooperation with pre-war Vintage specialists Kingsbury.

The car has also been uplifted a smidge. It now has a two-wire Dynamo, electronic voltage regulator, 12-volt LED lighting, 6.5-liter rear axle, and replacement pistons. Repairers have kept the car's original three-cylinder engine with super carburettors and a period-correct four-speed gearbox. To meet modern standards, the car received rebuilt magnetos, and new and period-correct exhaust and fuel systems.

Chassis 589 has been restored to wear the most iconic Bentley racing livery. That includes a black exterior with refurbished wheels, lights, and a bespoke tonneau cover.

Its interior is equally as refined with red leather racing-style seats with contrasting black carpets and red piping. The original 18-inch four-spoke steering wheel is in place as are all the original dials and gauges, in full working order.

After a long history of ownership and restoration, the model is for sale again. The price? £285,000.

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Bruce Pascal is one of the most devoted Hot Wheels collectors on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The first Hot Wheels arrived in stores in 1968 and it wasn't long until they became the number one toy. Bruce Pascal was seven years old at the time and remembers the toy immediately becoming popular with his circle of friends.

"It's hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could," Pascal said.

While he was growing up, Pascal, like kids across the country, kept his Hot Wheels in a cigar box. As he grew up, the cigar box gathered more dust, sitting on a shelf for 30 years until Pascal rediscovered the collection in 1999.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels The pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb is the most sought-after Hot Wheels car in the world. Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

"That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly," said Pascal. "My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult."

His search became a bit obsessive. Pascal began calling other collectors, taking out newspaper ads, and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures, and wood models.

His collection grew from that cigar box to thousands of Hot Wheels. Yet Pascal was not satisfied. He still had not found the one Hot Wheels vehicle that was alluding him, the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced - the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype.

The model was a bit of a folly. When VW and Hot Wheels initially created it, the car's narrow body and surf boards out the back window made the vehicle unable to stay upright when rolled. So, it was redesigned and the sides became more weighted and the surfboards were moved to the sides of the vehicle. This was the model that made it into production. The Beach Bomb was sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, an offering that was very of its time.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels There are only two of the pink models in existence.Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. Of these prototypes, the pink ones are the rarest of all. There are only two known to be in existence.

"I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model," said Pascal. "But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn't want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience."

Eventually, Pascal networked his way into purchasing both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him.

Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession.

"I won't say how much I purchased it for," said Pascal, "but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today."

To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display.

"I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I've found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It's a treasure to find these rare models," Pascal said.

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