Car: Bugatti Type 41 Royale coupe, 1926

The 1926 Bugatti Type 41 was Ettore Bugatti’s vainglorious attempt to sell his cars to emperors and kings. The lofty Italian-born carmaker called it “La Royale”.

1926 Bugatti Type 41 “Royale”
The gargantuan hood of the Bugatti Royale is shown to best effect here, as are the gigantic alloy wheels; this is the Coupé Napoleon body.

The car had a 779ci (12,763cc) straight-eight engine, with three-valves-per-cylinder, but just a single carburetor. It had a wheelbase of 14ft (4.3m), longer than a complete Subaru Impreza, and its overall length was longer than any factory-built limousine today at 21ft (6.4m). The Royale was a leviathan at over 7,000lb (3,175kg) in weight, with cast-alloy wheels measuring 24in (60cm) in diameter and an engine that was 1.4m (4.5ft) long. No matter what bodywork was fitted, the model of the car Bugatti Type 41 Royale coupe was magnificent. But Bugatti’s timing was unfortunate. It took six years for the first car to be delivered in 1932, and during the intervening period the whole world had fallen victim to the chronic economic slump known as the “Great Depression.”

1926 Bugatti Type 41 “Royale”

Only six models were made in all, along with a prototype destroyed in 1931. Surplus Royale engines began to be used to power French railcars. The surviving Royales became a myth-laden icon for vintage car buffs. In 1987, at one of the most celebrated collector’s car auctions, Christies sold one for £5.5 million in front of 4,500 people at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

“Even in sharp bends, the car stays exactly in line, and hardly tilts to the side.”

Wf Bradley, the autocar magazine—the first journalist to drive a royale

1926 model car Bugatti Type 41 Royale

Video model of the car Bugatti Type 41 Royale

Specification model of the car Bugatti Type 41 Royale

  • PLACE OF ORIGIN: Molsheim, Alsace, France
  • HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
  • ENGINE: eight-cylinder, 779ci (12,763cc)
  • MAXIMUM POWER: 300bhp
  • LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
  • BODYWORK: two-seater roadster, five-seater saloon, five-seater tourer
  • TOP SPEED: unknown