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 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 sold to Virgil Exner in 1961 for $2500 and received a body designed by Exner, built by Ghia.
The car in this gallery is the Type 101 Coupe #101504 bodied by Antem in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris for the 1951 Paris Salon de l'Automobile. It was on display together with a Gangloff drophead coupe before returning to Molsheim, where it was eventually road-registered. Even though the technology was old, this Bugatti was fast and quite capable.
It was purchased late in 1958 by Gene Cesari who visited Molsheim with well known car collector Jean DeDobbeleer and, after several meetings, became the company's North American representative. He finally collected the car in New York City before it was sold to Robert Stanley, prominent businessman and head of International Nickel Co.
Chassis 101504 then became an important part of the fabled collection of casino magnate Bill Harrah before being sold to prominent French automobile proponent, Jacques Harguindeguy. From there it was acquired by film star Nicolas Cage. Cage sold the car to collector Gene Ponder in 2002 before it was acquired by the O'Quinn Collection in 2006.
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