Since a few days the Time House, a modern gallery of historic automobiles in the Volkswagen Car City in Wolfsburg, presents a particularly rare exhibit: a Bugatti “Royale”. The numbers of this ultimate luxury car speak for themselves: almost 6 meters long (with a 4.30 m wheelbase), an 8-cylinder engine with a 12.7 liter piston capacity, 300 HP delivering a speed of 200 km/h.
Despite its monumental dimensions the “Royale” technique cannot deny its relationship to the traditional, somewhat more delicate Bugatti creations in numerous esthetic and technical details. The plane driving gear, so typical for Bugatti cars, has an overhead camshaft with a vertical shaft drive. Dry sump lubrication and dual ignition are further characteristics of the in-line 8-cylinder engine derived from an aviation engine.
In total, only six vehicles of the type 41 – the official designation in the Bugatti nomenclature – were built in Molsheim between 1929 and 1933, and all of them are still alive today. One of them, the so-called Royale “Binder”- named after the creator of the body – is owned by Bugatti Automobiles S.A. and has now been added to the exhibition of other great historic automobile brands in Volkwsagen’s Car City in Wolfsburg.
Ettore Bugatti named his creation “Royale”, because he very much hoped this definitely majestic vehicle to become a car for kings. Many a Royal has had a look at this dream in luxury, but never a “Royale” was actually owned by a King. Likewise, the High Society, which also carried some great hopes for Ettore, has been full of admiration for this model of superlatives, but only three of the “King’s Cars” have actually been sold: the world economic crisis prevented Bugatti’s great plans from becoming reality.
The powerful engines developed by Ettore for the “Royale” were then used instead by the clever Bugatti as driving units of the fast rail coach he designed and built for the French National Railroad. In a report on one of the first rides in a “Royale” published by the “autocar” magazine in 1926 the British car journalist W. F. Bradley describes most impressively this unique experience. You can find his verbatim report under section History/Anecdotes...
Special exhibits are shown in regular intervals by the Car City Time House. The current highlight: a Bugatti “Royale.