MMM 2015 – Bugatti Discovery Tour
Late 2013 Bugatti enthusiast Bastiaan van den Berg and Marc Vorgers planned a visit to the Vintage Revival Montlhery 2015 which is held every two years. Shortly after the idea came up of doing this in the form of a discovery tour in the trace of Ettore Bugatti. The tour would include visits to the cities of Molsheim (old Bugatti factory site), Mulhouse (the world’s largest Bugatti collection) and Montlhery (the historic banked circuit where Bugatti cars achieved many successes.) Molsheim, Mulhouse, Montlhery; three times a capital M, and thus the thousand miles MMM 2015 was born. Early 2015 Mattijs Diepraam decided to join our party. On 7 May we left for France in the ClassicarGarage 1974 rover P6 V8. The discovery tour in the trace of Bugatti is hereby described as short as possible and presented via a chronological photo reportage.
Below you will find a HD action video of 11 minutes showing the action at the Vintage Revival Montlhery!
On the first day, Thursday 7 May, our destination was the Alsatian town of Molsheim, about 600 kilometres from our starting point in the Netherlands. Here we embarked on the discovery tour along the ‘Bugatti Trail’. After parking the Rover in a sun showered Molsheim at noon we shortly after stood face to face with Ettore Bugatti’s life size bronze statue and a Type 35 Bugatti statue ‘parked’ in an oval pond. A short walk thru the beautiful historic centre of Molsheim brought us to the Bugatti Foundation, in the Musee Chartreuse, where a small but highly interesting Bugatti museum is located and which has been set up by the ‘Enthusiastes Bugatti’. In the afternoon we continued the trail to the ‘Hostellerie du Pur Sang’ which was used by Bugatti as a small private guesthouse for his clients. Today the Hostellerie is in use as the ‘club house’ of the ‘Enthousiastes Bugatti Alsace’. Next door we found our hotel for the night, appropriately named: ‘Hotel Le Bugatti’. From there the trail continued in the early evening along a Bugatti ‘Autorail’ bogie to the factory site (l’usine). The factory is now in use by the firm of Safran ‘Messier-Bugatti-Dowty’ who produce landing gear for aircrafts. The more modern front part of the factory was used for the production of the Bugatti ‘Autorail’ railcars which were powered by respectively two or four Bugatti Royale engines giving a combined power output of 400 and 800 bhp and a top speed of 196 km/h. (122 mph). Just around the corner on Rue des Peupliers we found the ‘Villa’, Ettore’s house for many years. Next to the ‘Villa’ the oldest part of the Bugatti factory can be seen: the ‘Hardtmuhle’. Here one gets a good impression of the old early 20th century workshops, foundry and stables. Returning to the main road, rue Saint-Jean, we walk along Chateau Saint-Jean. This magnificent chateau was purchased by Bugatti in the late 1920ies to add more grandeur to his marque but he never lived in it. Today the chateau is in use by Bugatti SAS to receive buyers of the modern Bugatti Veyron cars in great style.
The morning of the second day of our discovery trail led us to the Jean Bugatti Memorial in Düppigheim. The memorial is located along the D392 just outside Düppigheim where Jean got killed in August 1939 testing a Bugatti T57 Le Mans car. Driving back over the long and straight D392 we enter Dorlisheim. In the cemetery along the Grand Rue we paid our respects to the Bugatti family resting in their family tombs. Then we piloted the Rover over 100 kilometres to Mulhouse to visit the ‘Cite de l’Automobile’ (Schlumpf collection) and the ‘Cite du Train’ (Musee Francais du chemin de fer.) In the Schlumpf collection we were guided around by Mr. Pat Garnier the former director of the museum from 1982 until 1999. Mr. Garnier gave us a memorable guided tour thru the Bugatti collection. During these four hours we were drenched in the delightful history of Bugatti and in the history of the Schlumpf collection. We questioned him about everything and he shared great stories with us. Then with a few hours left on this Friday we visited the Cite du Train in Mulhouse where the Bugatti ‘Autorail’ railcar can be seen in full glory. Cite du Train is a very impressive, vast, and highly recommended museum which will be of great interest to historic motoring enthusiasts.
On day three we took the magnificent scenery tour from Mulhouse to Montlhery along Belfort and the N19/E54 from Vesoul to Langres where we found a little piece of England in the village of Cintrey. Here we took photos of our party and the Rover in front of an old garage with great Castrol and Champion advertisements on the wall! The distance of just under 600 kilometres was covered quickly so we arrived at the Montlhery banked circuit in the early afternoon. On the Vintage Revival the clock was turned back several decades… For two days we found ourselves visiting the 1920ies and 1930ies with some added imagination. You only have to suppress out of style details like the modern racing helmets and people clad in too modern overalls and clothes… During this delightful event we witnessed many old Bugatti’s still being driven, raced and cherished by their owners. The other cars and marques where as impressive. Yours truly drooled over the original 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes for a long time… And finally sat down in the seat of the car in which Christian Lautenschlager won the 1908 French Grand Prix in Dieppe.
The next Montlhery Vintage Revival will be held in 2017.
A few good books on Bugatti:
'Bugatti' by H.G. Conway
'Ettore Bugatti' by W.F. Bradley
'Thoroughbreds from Molsheim' by P. Dumont
'The Bugatti Book' by Barry Eaglesfield & C W P Hampton
'The Bugatti Story' by L'Ebe Bugatti
'Bugatti' – The Dynamics of Mythology - by Griffith Borgeson
Photo's copyright: Marc Vorgers, Bastiaan van den Berg and Mattijs Diepraam
Map copyright: Google maps.