Ettore Bugatti made only six examples of his stupendously large and luxurious type 41 Royale. He originally intended to produce 25 examples for the use of European royalty and Indian maharajahs, but during the first Great Depression even royalty were a bit hard up.
Type 41s are among the rarest of collectible automobiles and there are none currently for sale but, if you actually still have money these days, you have a chance next month at a great Royale memento: a type 41 elephant radiator cap mascot is being sold by L’art et l’automobile auction on December 12th. Bidding starts at $75,000. Take it home and mount it on the bonnet of your Range Rover and you’ll really make an impression. Also, the perfect gift for the rabid Republican.
Phil Skinner describes the item.
It was Ettore Bugatti’s most exclusive creation, the Type 41 Royale. From the onset, only 25 examples were ever planned and in the end, only six were ever produced. Using a huge 12.7-Liter, inline eight-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp, everything about the Royale was massive. Each car had a 169.3-inch wheelbase, 24-inch wheels, a weight of more than 7,000 lbs and a price tag that was just as colossal at around $25,000 U.S. dollars in 1929. On top of the base chassis price, each car had a custom-ordered body ranging in price from $5,000 to $18,000 in pre-depression 1929 dollars.
To finish off this grand automobile, the radiator mascot had to be something just as special and just as big. For the crowning touch, Ettore Bugatti turned to the work of his beloved younger brother Rembrandt, a noted and talented artist. The younger Bugatti brother made animals the subject of his art. He was a patron of the city zoo in Antwerp, Belgium, and used many of the animals there as the basis for his works. Sadly, during World War I, many of these exotic creatures had to be killed due to the inability to properly care for the animals in the zoo during the war. The story goes that Rembrandt was so distraught with these actions, he traveled to Paris and committed suicide in 1916.
Ettore Bugatti felt that one of his brother’s most exquisite works was the mighty elephant rising up on its rear legs with his trunk high in the air. This, he felt, would be the finishing touch for his most exclusive automobile, the Type 41 Royale.
Using an original bronze casting from Rembrandt, a very limited run of these mascots were produced. Each was cast in sterling silver by the Charkles Valsuani Foundry in Paris using the “Cire Perdue” (lost wax) method.