ONLY six of a scheduled 25 Bugatti Type 41s were ever built but now a seventh might be in the mix following a re-creation project by a Dutch classic car restoration company.
Widely known as the Royale, the Bugatti Type 41 was launched in 1926 as the pinnacle of motoring achievement, expected to be the most luxurious and magnificent vehicle ever built and reserved only for royalty.
With the Great Depression throwing an enormous spanner in the works only six were completely finished, with four being owned by museums, a fifth by Volkswagen, and the sixth is AWOL, possibly lurking in a super-villain’s underground lair.
The potential seventh model is a painstakingly remade prototype model of the Royale 1926 Torpedo Packard, with the entire process taking an astonishing 15 years.
Originally built on a chassis boasting a 169.3 inch wheelbase, it had a straight 8 engine of 15 litres and could produce 275 -300 hp. Other Royales had a slightly smaller capacity of 12.7 litres, while all were 21 feet long, with a walnut steering wheel and whalebone dash knobs.
Today the remake is on display at the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse and there is even a documentary out about how the Dutch team managed to recreate the prototype. More than 2,000 factory drawings were used in one of engineering’s more heroic recent feats.
There are also two exact replicas in circulation, leading some experts to ponder whether there are really six, seven, or nine Royales in existence.
Should one of the originally completed six go up for sale, analysts and collectors are of the mind that it could become the most expensive car ever sold, even reaching nine-figures due to its aesthetic and historic appeal.
The current record is the approximately €34 million paid for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in 2014.