To Celebrate The 70th Anniversary Of The Bugatti Type 73 - Presented At The Paris Auto Show

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Bugatti Type 73 - presented at the Paris Auto Show in October 1947 - the City of Auto workshop in Mulhouse restarted the car on display. This vehicle was also the last Bugatti designed by Ettore Bugatti, who died on August 21, 1947, and the swan song of the Molsheim brand.

To Celebrate The 70th Anniversary Of The Bugatti Type 73 - Presented At The Paris Auto Show

The weather is cold and dry, and the golden leaves are falling on the Bugatti type 73 A, a coach that turns on the track of the autodrome. At the wheel, on the right, Brice Chalancon, manager of the City of Auto restoration workshop, delicately assembles the gearbox. The 1500 cm² four-cylinder growls, then begin to purr as it reaches its appropriate temperature. It is at 60 °, but it is not enough; it needs to heat up a bit, said the technician. Leather seat, wooden interior, and steering wheel on the right, the atmosphere is English. Still, the car is French, even Alsatian, and manufactured in the Bugatti workshops in Molsheim that the French state has just handed over to Ettore Bugatti. It is a prototype designed by engineers Pichette and Bertrand. The parasitic noises are numerous, and the noise is quickly invading with each increase in speed.

A unique car, several engines

Above all, it's a unique car that has driven very little since it was presented to the public at the Paris Motor Show in 1947. We shot with the Ring of the Rhine for Bugatti's centenary. But the cylinder head is very fragile, and we don't want to break it. We couldn't fix it, and if we rebuilt a cylinder head, which is possible, the car would no longer be in its original condition. It is a real question we ask ourselves in terms of mechanical heritage. Should we run this kind of unique car at the risk of damaging them? 

This November afternoon, the question does not arise: the car is rolling, and indeed, and it is a rare privilege to be the passenger. How many people were lucky enough to board a Type 73? A handful, no more, and maybe not even Ettore Bugatti, who died a few months before his presentation to the public. But this is the last car to be launched under his command. Jean, the prodigy son, was killed in a Bugatti Type 57 in Duppigheim in 1949, the war left the brand bloodless, and Ettore did not see the need to invent the popular small car of tomorrow. Renault presented the 4CV in 1946, Citroën is preparing its 2CV for the 1948 show. Its type 73 coach with Marcel Bourtout bodywork is a lovely car, with magnificent art deco lines, but it is a car from before. Impractical and overpriced war - according to documents, the vehicle would have been worth 384,375 francs at the time - for a Europe facing the restrictions.

It will remain a prototype that, still, according to Brice Chalançon, will be used to develop the Type 252 engine. We don't even know if there was an engine inside when it presented at the show. On the stand, there were two engines behind the car, a double overhead camshaft, and a single overhead camshaft. In the museum's reserves, there is another T73 chassis and several other engines planned for this car and its race "version. But how do you know which mechanism planned for future buyers of the coach?

This car will not be the last Bugatti, as the factory will still produce six Bugatti Type 101s strongly inspired by the 73, the Bugatti Type 251 for competition, but these attempts will be unsuccessful. The brand will not be reborn until 1998 with the takeover of the name by the Volkswagen group, the production of the Veyron, and then the Chiron, but that's another story read below.

Purchased in 1963

The laps follow one another, and the car turns better and better, even if the autodrome does not allow the horses to be released from the four cylinders, to shift into fourth gear of the Cotal electromagnetic gearbox. Bugatti magic operates with each acceleration; this magic, which incites the greatest fortunes in the world to spend huge sums on the cars of Molsheim see the opposite. So we drink whey, telling ourselves that even the richest man on earth will never be able to afford this Bugatti type 73, bought by the industrialist and collector Fritz Schlumpf in March 1963. It is unique, on display, at the City of Auto, and not for sale.

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