A virtual magazine for a true passion!

Editor: Jaap Horst

Volume 29 (2024), Issue 1

Bugatti T13 8-valve miniature by Nik Levecque

In the text below, Nik describes how he started building Bugatti miniatures in the first place, and how he developed as a model builder. The article on the Bugatti T13 8-valve miniature can be found here.

In the late 1970s, modeling still involved putting together a few Matchbox aircraft and an Airfix ship, but I gradually started looking for bigger challenges. In 1980 I randomly chose an Italeri kit of the Bugatti Type 41 Royale 'Le Fiacre' in a shop in Roeselare without ever having heard of the French car brand. Bugatti was not very well known at the time; it was a bit of a faded glory from before the Second World War and the name was kept alive by the passionate owners of their special cars.

The Royale was on our television at home and I would sometimes stare at it for a long time, more than at the superficial programs of that time. . A second one followed, the Type 41 'Coupé Napoleon', also from Italeri. In 1983 I happened to find a book about Bugatti in a shop in Kortrijk. It was completely read and I felt that these cars had something very special, which sowed the seeds for my collection.

The internet didn't exist yet, so you scoured all the model shops looking for interesting models. The collection grew, although there was not much time to do model making: there was a house, a garden and two children and that of course all came first.

In 1998 I built the Pocher type 50 in 1/8 scale, a beautiful model that cost 12,595 Belgian Francs at the time in a shop in Mechelen. I built a spray booth for it, with extraction, and sprayed this large model for the very first time. Previously I had hand-painted all the models. With Humbrol, straight from the jar, as was done then. Many more types followed and each time the history was searched for how to build the model as authentically as possible. Kits became extra detailed and later small and larger conversions were made. Some models were made with Burago die-cast models as a basis.

All steering wheels were made of wood, the seats or tension straps had to be made of leather. They looked for metal parts in clocks and watches, for foils and veneers for the right decorations. In the meantime, a technique was also developed to make wire spoke wheels to scale. Most of my collection, which currently only contains 26 Bugattis, is in 1/20 and 1/24 scale.

Gradually it became more and more difficult to find kits, I had made almost all of them, which can be found in the scales between 1/8 and 1/32. As a result, my hobby entered a new stage: scratch construction. In the meantime, four scratch models have been completed: the T59 of King Leopold III, the T30 'Carrosseria Corona', the T13 1921 'Brescia' and the T13 1911 '8 soupapes' also shown above and below.

Scratch construction naturally requires some knowledge of the brand and the technology, especially because there are not many technical drawings from the time available. I have to rely on sketches and photos that I find, fortunately the internet is a great source of information. That wouldn't have been possible in the 1980s. I love making unique pieces and look for solutions to make all kinds of parts without high-tech equipment, using the original materials such as wood, leather, brass, aluminum and rubber as much as possible. That remains the common thread in the development of my collection.

The article on the Bugatti T13 8-valve miniature can be found here.
French / Dutch article as published in the Belgian KIT Magazine.

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