The fact that cars sold to private drivers were equipped in precisely the same way as those driven by the company team is just one instance of Ettore Bugatti’s munificence. He was the only major automobile manufacturer who offered comparable equipment to both customers and company drivers as a matter of course.
In some cases the maestro lived to regret his penchant for equity. Possibly the most famous of such episodes was the 1930 Monaco Grand Prix. It was in this year that drivers were first allowed to enter without co-drivers, and the new rule inspired private driver René Dreyfus to install a 30-liter fuel tank in the vacant passenger side. He added a contraption that allowed him to re-fuel “on the go”, and won the race by a margin of 21 seconds and not a single pit stop.
Although the five fastest cars in the race were Bugatti models, Dreyfus beat every one of them. Bugatti could have refitted his cars with new, more powerful 2.3-liter engines, but the car manufacturer wanted to play fair and so used the same engines as were installed in the cars he sold to private parties. By contrast, Dreyfus’ winning car sported tires and ignition plugs that were different from those of the “official” Bugatti models. This was too much to take even for the magnanimous Ettore Bugatti, and when Dreyfus called at the Molsheim plant a few weeks later to introduce himself, Mr. Bugatti refused to see him. Another two and a half years would pass before Dreyfus was finally allowed to join the Bugatti racing team.