Ettore Bugatti started making cars under his own name at
Molsheim in Alsace-Lorraine in 1910. Not long afterwards he began thinking
about a large luxury car that would outclass all others, but for practical
and financial reasons it did not become a reality for many years.
In 1926 when both Bugatti and the French economy were flourishing, work started on a prototype super car. W.F Bradley reported in The Autocar in June 1926 that the new car had an engine capacity of 14,726 cc, a wheelbase in excess of 15 feet and weighed about 50 cwt.
In 1929 the car had three gears, low for starting, second for nearly all road work and overdrive for Grandes Routes. When Guy Griffiths drove a Royale he confirmed that the speed of 95 mph in second gear was easily achieved. Despite its heavy body the car had a theoretical speed of 125mph in top gear.
In spite of its size the Royale was pleasant to drive and like all Bugattis, once you were at the wheel its size seemed to shrink. It was quite light to handle and at home on twisty roads, and although sharp bends needed a wide sweep, there was nothing lorry-like in its response.
By 1929 the depression was starting and by 1931 the whole world was caught in its grip. It had been hoped to make 20 or more cars, but only six were built and none of these were sold to royalty as originally intended.
Bugatti Type 41 Royale Specification
Engine: straight-eight, single overhead camshaft 12,763 cc
(125 x 130 mm) with three valves per cylinder and developing 300 bhp at 2000 rpm. Gearbox: 3-speed. Chassis: rigid axles suspended on semi-elliptic leaf springs at the front and quarter-elliptic at the rear. Wheelbase: 14 feet 1 inch. Front and rear track: 5 feet 3 inches.