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.

1932 Type 41 Royale Armand Esders

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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The ZR2 is a beefy off-road pickup.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet has added a beefed-up version of its half-ton pickup to the 2022 Silverado lineup that has more capability and comfort for towing and hauling loads, traveling to hard jobs over a variety of road surfaces and a better 4WD game for backcountry travel. I recently joined the Bow-Tie brand for a 200-mile-long evaluation of the first-ever Chevy ZR2. Our day-long test drive took us from the popular desert playground of Palm Springs, located in a verdant valley surrounded by 5,000 to 10,000-foot mountains, to swaths of nearby desert. There, we traveled along a collection of dirt trails in Joshua Tree National Forest and on a 4WD mining trail to abandoned gold mines, with rugged topography that allowed us to try out the truck’s updated hardware that has been engineered to bring an ease of operation and safety for motoring over tough and technical terrain.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2The ZR2 gets several exclusive touches that set it apart from a standard Silverado.Chevrolet

Chevy has made some significant changes to the 2022 Silverado lineup from outside to in and has added Super Cruise, a hands-free drive mode that we were able to try out on local highways in the Palm Springs environs, as we also checked out different trim levels and new technologies. Updates of note are new interior styling, freshened materials and premium trims; a new dashboard and digital displays with a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster and a 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with Google’s Maps, Assistant and Play Store as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay); and an electronic shifter mounted to the center console. However, our primary task was to focus on the all-new ZR2 that has been set up with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine, rides on 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires, boasts a new suspension with Multimatic spool-valve dampers, and has electronic-locking front and rear differentials. Elements of the ZR2 and this moniker have been used previously on a special edition of Chevy’s compact truck.

In addition to its functional features, the new Silverado ZR2 stands apart from its stablemates by a collection of unique design cues, including a distinctive front end with a new black hood insert; a large-sized grille with a hollowed-out ‘flow-tie’ emblem for increased air flow and integrated lighting; wheel moldings, ZR2 badges, unique 18-inch wheels and an exclusive Jet Black/Graystone leather-trimmed interior matched with an appealing dark trim. Overall, the truck looks slightly aggressive and fit. The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 competes with other full-sized desert-running and off-road trucks from Ford and Ram. It’s only offered with a crew-cab body style and either the short- or standard-length cargo boxes with an optional Multi-Flex Tailgate. On sale now, it starts at $67,600 (plus $1,695 destination and delivery)

Chevy’s flagship off-road pickup can tow 8,900 pounds with a conventional trailer hitch and haul up to 1,440 pounds of payload, with more comfortable ride as a result of the spool-valved dampers and specially-tuned springs that bring increased wheel travel when compared to the Trail Boss trim, for instance. This also translates to improved control and greater safety on the road, which we found impressive during our highway driving. The truck has a number of new standard safety features, as well.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2The off-road can tow up to 8,900 pounds and haul up to 1,440 pounds.Chevrolet

Added to Chevy’s in-house testing of the truck in everyday driving and extremes, we learned that the new pickup has been put to the test over the past three years by Chad Hall, who is a highly-respected off-roader and noted desert racer. The production truck and Hall’s prototype race truck share most of the major chassis and drivetrain components, including the robust ladder-type frame; the 420-horsepower V-8 and 10-speed automatic transmission; transfer case; front and rear differentials; plus the front and transfer case skid plates, says Chevy. (See below for more info on Hall’s racing success in this truck.)

We sampled a number of the truck’s technologies during our day-long drive, checking the boxes for both high-speed desert-running and slow-speed rock crawling. Overall, there was good power on tap with plenty of torque to move the half-ton’s 5,800-pound mass, smooth shifts from the 10-speed transmission, good brakes to slow our momentum when needed, and a comfortable ride- even over rugged roads and washboard.

I was excited to experience the ZR2’s talents on some isolated backcountry roads including the Old Dale and Black Eagle Mine Roads 4WD trail, where posted signage warned “Proceed at your own risk: Deep sand and rocks-- stranded drivers have died from heat exposure on park roads.” Truth is, this is just the kind of picturesque and formidable place that 4WD enthusiasts love to explore with a truck that can take you there—and bring you back safely.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2Chev updated the Silverado's interior with better tech and upscale luxury features.Chevrolet

What makes the ZR2 with its rear leaf-spring set-up abona-fide off-roader? In front are tow hooks and a skid plate underneath the high-mounted steel front bumper, with a 31.8-degree approach angle. Other numbers of note are the: 23.4 breakover angle; 23.3 departure angle; 11.2 inches of ground clearance; with 9.84 inches of suspension travel in front and 10.62 inches in the rear. Its width is 81.2 inches, which helps compared to some of its competitors, as it is more “parkable” in many garages and we found it maneuvered well when navigating through narrow sections of rock. Engineers have also repositioned the dual exhaust for added protection.

One of the truck’s top cool new features is the selectable Terrain Mode that allows for one-pedal driving; this cruise-control-like technology is particularly useful for motoring over rocks and up and down steep slopes. To engage, we locked the ZR2 into 4WD Low, set first gear and let the engineering do the driving, using the throttle to increase speed and the brake to decrease speed, when needed. A forward-facing camera provides visibility to the front and sides, as well as to the back which is another great feature for navigating technical terrain.

*Fuel economy estimates sit at 14 mpg in the city, 17 on the highway and 15 combined. the 24-gallon ZR2’s 360-mile range.

**FAST FACT: Chad Hall Racing also helped test the Chevy Colorado ZR2 off-road technologies in competition — and is still going strong with them. The Colorado ZR2 has been racing since 2017 in the Best in The Desert series and is the only truck in its class to have finished every race entered. It has accumulated more than 22,500 miles of racing experience.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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