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Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 29 (2024), Issue 1

Bugatti 1968 Brochure

The pre-war involvement of Bugatti in aviation, starting even from the start of the company in 1910, and lasting until just before WW2 with the development of the 100P airplane and the Type 67 V16 aero-engine, continued after the war.

Most of the known Bugatti books have little information on the post-war activities, and mostly focus on the automobile activities only, with the T101, T251 and T252 mainly. However, post-war automobile production was very limited, with less than 15 cars made. The factory, which incidentally never went bankrupt, focussed on various other activities. Maintenance of course, of the pre-war automobiles and AutoRails, but that was not enough to fill the factory.

One of the few books that has information about this period is "100 Years of Innovations and Excellence" from 2009, written by eight authors. The well-informed book has a load of information on these years, in which a lot of interesting projects were succesfully completed. However, car production was not one of them.

Significant was the refurbishment of the railcars, which were in relatively good condition, and the French railway company SNCF was in need of trains to normalize the services in the immediate post-war years. The factory was even asked if they could produce new diesel-powered trains. A question which was declined due to a not yet operational R&D department and lack of a diesel specialist….

With no own Bugatti designs to be made, the factory was involved with manufacturing of production equipment and parts mainly. Some of these parts would be for the Caravelle. Aero production went on to include helicopter blades under license of the American Parsons company. For these helicopter blades a large test– and balancing installation was built.

Above photographs of the helicopter blades testing installation. The photograph on the right with the Bugatti employees shows it's size more clearly. I do not know the names of these, neither do I know why one of them is sticking out his tongue....
(Photographs not from the brochure, obviously)

In 1963 Bugatti was taken over by Hispano Suiza, a situation caused by various factors, like less war production and the AutoRail maintenance ending in 1958. Main cause however was a (for Bugatti) very disadvantageous contract for 4– and 6-cilinder Diesel engines to be produced under license from Hispano Suiza. Debts to this company became so high that it would be impossible to recover.

Soon after the takeover Hispano Suiza transferred it’s manufacture of aircraft undercarriages from Bois-Colombes to the Molsheim factory. The company name was to become Messier-Hispano-Bugatti only much later, after Hispano Suiza was taken over by SNECMA. Not too long ago, the name Bugatti has been finally taken off the buildings entirely, the current name being Safran Landing systems. Note that in 1968 the name of the company was still Société des Automobiles E. Bugatti!

Bugatti is currently a high-technology company, building undercarriages for many airplanes. One of the products which most stand out is the undercarriage for the Concorde, the following is a reprint of a booklet on it’s undercarriage production. The Concorde was the only supersonic passenger airplane, with the first flight in 1969, and the last one in 2003. I heard one powering up once while in a London airport… Impressive!

Below the pages of the brochure, text in French and English.

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