1951 Bugatti Type 101 Guilloré Coupe

There are quite a few Delahaye 135M chassis with this body, which makes the car seem like a guest at the Ascot Races wearing a rented tux

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Ettore Bugatti never recovered from the tragic death of his 29-year-old son Jean, shortly before WWII in 1939. Neither did his company. The war and its aftermath left the Molsheim factory devastated, and then on August 21, 1947, Ettore Bugatti died, leaving six heirs to the estate.

In September 1949, the Bugatti factory manufactured a batch of 16 further examples of its pre-war Type 57/57C model, but evidently only three were completed. For a time the company concentrated on sub-contracted engineering work, before Roland Bugatti made an attempt to re-launch the marque in 1951 using an improved Type 57 chassis as the basis for the new Type 101.

These improvements included a down-draft Weber carburetor to replace the obsolete prewar Stromberg, an electric Cotal gearbox and 17-inch instead of 18-inch road wheels, while many components still in stock were utilized in its construction. As with the Type 57, two versions were offered, in this case Types 101 and 101C, the latter being equipped with a supercharger.

But Bugatti’s other interests took precedence over the revived road car project, and only a handful of Type 101s were completed between 1951 and 1956, making it one of this most celebrated manufacturer’s rarest models.

Seven cars were produced in total and allocated chassis numbers 101500 to 101506 inclusive, possibly missing out chassis number 101505. The prototype, chassis number 101500, was a factory-built four-door saloon with coachwork in the modern, full-width, postwar style, whereas chassis number 101502, the car offered here, was a coach (a two-door saloon) by Guilloré of Courbevoie and the only Type 101 to feature separate front and rear fenders.

According to Barrie Price’s Album Bugatti 57, this body is believed to have been designed for a Delahaye. All seven 101s have survived to the present day, three in the French National Motor Museum at Mulhouse, and all except 101502 are listed in Hugh Conway’s 1962 Register & Data of Bugatti Automobiles.

Rudolfo Brignore owned 101502 in Tunis from 1956 onwards. In 1964, he sold the car to a Bugatti trader in Brussels, Belgium, Jean De Dobbeleer, who in turn sold it to Georges Marquet Delina, the heir to a chain of luxury hotels (Les Grandes Hotels Belges) in Brussels and Madrid. Delina owned the Palace Hotel and the Ritz in Madrid, and was a staunch Bugatti collector; he bought 28 Bugattis from De Dobbeleer, which he kept stored at various locations around Brussels.

A downturn in his business fortunes in the 1970s forced Delina to dispose of his collection, and the Type 101 Guilloré Coupe was sold at Christie’s auction on March 22, 1973 to well-known collector Michel Roquet, of Founex, Switzerland. (SCM record #9464 shows this car also sold at Christie’s Geneva on March 20, 1969 for $6,923). Roquet put the car up for sale in May 1975, when it was bought by Pim Hascher, who kept it until his death in 2007.

Hascher had the Type 101 restored in 2005, after which it was presented at the Paleis Het Loo Concours d’Elegance in September that same year. Remarkably, a photograph of 101502 has never appeared in Bugantics, the quarterly journal of the Bugatti Owners’ Club. Archive photographs exist of the car in Tunisia in the 1950s and ’60s, where it is depicted it in apparently very nice condition on whitewall tires.