The 1966 Exner Bugatti Roadster by Ghia was the result of three separate auto legends working together. Virgil M. Exner Sr. made his fame designing stunning show cars and the finned "Forward Look" Chrysler vehicles of the Fifties. Bugatti became legendary for its sports/racing cars of the Thirties. Ghia is the highly respected coachbuilder that over the years has produced many one-off show cars. Put the three together and you have what we call the 1966 Exner Bugatti T101C by Ghia.
The Bugatti Company struggled to survive after World War II and into the 1950s. Ettore's death in 1947 split what could be recovered of the Bugatti enterprise into two camps along the lines of the families of his two marriages. Yet, out of this disorder, the allure of the Bugatti automobile emerged, not only from its honoured tradition, but also from, it seems, a sense of duty felt by the family, the workers, and the designers who had laboured under Le Patron's influence.
Four years passed in which the family partially settled its differences and the Molsheim works were rebuilt. But the automobile remained central to the Bugatti tradition, and general manager, Pierre Marco, along with Roland Bugatti, the youngest of Ettore's children from his first marriage, created the Type 101. This new model was largely based on the pre-war Type 57, including the 3.3-litre dual overhead-camshaft straight eight-cylinder engine and solid axle suspension. The supercharged version "T101C" had about 200hp. The success or failure of the Type 101, however, was determined not by its character or appearance but by Bugatti's decision to leave the Type 57 engine's displacement intact, putting it in a 17 cheveaux vapeur fiscal horsepower class which imposed confiscatory annual taxes under post-war French regulations.
Only 6 chassis/engine combinations were built. The very last chassis, #101506, was given by Ghia to father and son Virgil Exner Sr. and Jr. in 1961 as payment for their design work on the Duesenberg Revival cars. At Ghia the Bugatti's chassis was shortened 46cm and fitted with the bodywork designed by Virgil Exner Sr. Virgil Exner Jr. designed the interior. Ghia spent six months building the steel-bodied one-off. The car was presented to the public in Turin, 1965.
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