Arriving in style, Bugatti is bringing a true icon to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in England from 11 to 14 July. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this legendary motor sport event, the French luxury brand will be showcasing a 1932 Type 41 Royale at the “Cartier, Style et Luxe” exhibition.
With the chassis number 41111 and a body originally designed by Ettore Bugatti’s son Jean, this two-seater roadster was the first Royale to be delivered to a customer. Armand Esders, a prêt-à-porter clothing manufacturer from Paris, bought the Royale back in 1932 for 700,000 Francs, which was a significant sum in those days. In 1938, Esders sold the Royale to a new owner who then had the car refitted as a closed coupé with a Coupé de Ville body designed by the coachbuilder Binder in Paris.
Even as a young man, the brand’s founder Ettore Bugatti had always dreamt of building the most powerful and luxurious series-production vehicle the world had ever seen. It wasn’t until many years later that he was able to turn his dream into a reality. With the acclaimed Type 41 Royale, he created a car which was in a league of its own when it came to performance, size, comfort, quality and elegance. For its prototype, Ettore designed an 8-cylinder in-line engine with an overhead camshaft, a capacity of almost 15 litres and a monolithic head and engine block. The series-produced version had a 12.7-litre engine with the 3 valves per cylinder that were typical for Bugatti at that time. The engine produced approximately 300 PS at less than 2,000 revolutions per minute. The Royale is also quite majestic in terms of its size: measuring almost 6.5m long, 4.3m across the wheelbase and weighing around 3 tonnes, it also boasts a 190-litre tank. The car’s crowning glory is its radiator cap which features an elephant sculpture created by the artist Rembrandt Bugatti, Ettore’s brother. This elephant has since become a symbol for the timelessness of the Royale and is still synonymous with the Bugatti brand to this day.
Unfortunately, the difficult economic conditions in Europe and America at the time meant that Ettore was unable to achieve his goal of producing a run of around 25 vehicles which he intended to sell to various royal families and heads of state. In the end, he only managed to build six vehicles in total.