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Unfinished, original Bugatti to be revealed at Pebble Beach for the first time

August 8, 2012

One of the major reasons Ettore Bugatti's famed automaker collapsed after his death in 1947 was that his talented son and heir, Jean Bugatti, had died while race-testing a car in 1939. Before his death, Jean Bugatti had designed a new Bugatti that was never finished -- until now.

Collector Peter Mullins' massive stash of pre-war automobiles included one of three chassis for Jean Bugatti's 1939 Type 64 Coupe -- basically just the frame and a straight-eight cylinder, DOHC engine. Since Jean Bugatti left a few sketches as to what he thought the car should look like, Mullins asked students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., to imagine what Bugatti might have done himself.

The result mixes an aluminium body with cues that Bugatti had in his notebook, including "papillion" doors -- an early verison of gullwing doors that Mercdes would make famous 14 years later. Built by hand at Automobile Metal Shaping in Michigan, the aluminum panels reflect Bugatti's period interest in aircraft and the swooping cabins of the era. It won't be the most original Bugatti on the golf course at Pebble Beach, but it will be one of the most unique.