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24 de abril de 2020

Bugatti, History and Renaissance - Part 3: The Type 10


Antonio Eiras


A year later Ettore was invited by friends of his father to design a new model. He had left Prinetti & Stucchi, whose bosses were not interested in building cars, and was working on his own.

In 1901 he presented the Type 2, equipped with a 4-cylinder engine, at the Milan International Exhibition. The new model proved to be a huge success, having received a gold medal and attracted the attention of many industrialists. One of them, Baron de Dietrich, invited the young Bugatti to design a car to complete the range of trucks and buses that his company was already building.

So, at just twenty, Ettore left Milan and Italy to settle and work in Niederbronn, in French Alsace, very close to the border with Germany.

The Type 3, 4 and 5 models, designed by the young Ettore, were thus built by De Dietrich. All of them were equipped with 4-cylinder engines, with overhead valves, which was very likely the first use of this type of distribution. The capacity of the engines varied from 5.3 liters of Type 3, 7.4 liters of Type 4 and 12.9 liters of Type 5. This last model was intended for competition and differed substantially from the other two by the original position driving position, located at the rear end of the vehicle, ie in the rear seat!

About 100 copies of these 3 models were built, which, according to testimonies of the time, proved to be quite reliable and easy to drive, having proved to be very competitive in the events in which they participated.


Ettore Bugatti had become friends, however, with Emile Mathis, representative of De Dietrich in Strasbourg. The two young men shared a growing passion for motor sport. Thus, when, in 1904, Baron De Dietrich decided to suspend the production of automobiles, Mathis convinced the young Bugatti to join him and to design the vehicles that his new company would build.

Marketed under the name "Hermes", the Type 6 and 7 models were little more than improved versions of the De Dietrich models. Note the lateral arrangement, and not the head, of the exhaust valves, as well as the lower position of the gearbox outlet shafts, in relation to the inlet shafts. Fifteen copies of these models were built, until the end of the contract, in 1906.


Again free, Ettore accepted the proposal to collaborate with the German company Gasmotoren Fabrik Deutz. The invitation came at the suggestion of the company's Technical Director, Adolf Langer, who was impressed with the quality of the two Hermes models he had purchased.

The first model manufactured in Cologne, Germany, was the Type 8, which maintained the mechanical layout traditionally used by Ettore in his previous models. In Type 9, built in 1909, the young Bugatti introduced the cardan transmission and the rear suspension with semi-elliptical springs. The new transmission would remain, in the models he designed, until the early thirties. 

These vehicles had a high build quality, a standard that would prove to be characteristic of Bugatti vehicles.

During the design of the Type 9, Ettore had observed with great interest a small vehicle, which had been presented to the public in 1908, an Isotta-Fraschini equipped with a 1.2 liter engine. Small in size, this vehicle served as an inspiration to young Bugatti in realizing his dream of building a car with his name.


In late 1909, motivated by the difficulties it had encountered in conquering the car market, Deutz ended the contract with Ettore. Back in Alsace, he took with him a new model, the Type 10, which he had built in the basement of his home, during the last year in Cologne.

The Type 10 was designed as a sports and competition car: it had to be small, light and powerful, to win the races.

This 2-seater model used a very light aluminum alloy chassis and body and was powered by a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine, which, equipped with a camshaft at the top, controlled a distribution of 2 valves per cylinder, delivered 12CV of maximum power. The transmission was made to the rear wheels by a shaft and a gearbox with clutch. The suspensions used longitudinal leaf springs and the drum brakes were operated by cables. With a weight of 365 kg, the new model reached a speed of 80km/h.

Dubbed “Bathtub” due to the peculiar shape of its bodywork, this model reproduced Type 9, with more compact dimensions. His passion for horses led the young Bugatti to call his new model a small “Pur Sang”.

The behavior and performance of this small car pleasantly surprised everyone who could drive it, which was mentioned in the press at the time and increased Ettore's credibility with banking, especially Spanish banker De Vizcaya. This success opened the door to financing that would allow him to achieve his desired independence.

He settled with his family in the small village of Molsheim, a small village near Strasbourg, and, at only 28 years old and with a strong determination, he joined his father, Carlo and his brother Rembrandt, to found the Bugatti Automobiles, becoming a car manufacturer with his name.

The Type 10 would serve as the basis for the development of its next model, the Type 13, which would have the difficult responsibility of consolidating Ettore's reputation in the automobile world. Its production started with the start of activity at the new Bugatti plant, in early 1910.

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Antonio Eiras


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