Simanaitis Says

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WE’RE ALL KIDS

THOUGH WE’RE ALL kids at heart, most of us won’t fit in wonderful enthusiasts’ cars specifically fabricated for kids. Here are three, one whose drivers included le Patron’s son and a Moroccan prince, another for the son of an Italian movie director and a third for kids of English trike enthusiasts.

Morgan SuperSport Jnr. The Morgan 3-wheeler pedal car is both the most recent of the three, 2009, yet celebrates the centenary of being the oldest of the three marques discussed today.

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Morgan SuperSport Jnr. Images from Morgan Motor Co.

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The Morgan SuperSport Jnr. is a 2/3-scale pedal car evocative of a typical Morgan trike of the 1930s. Its facsimile V-twin powerplant resides ahead of its bonnet; its tubular chassis is clothed in aluminum bodywork.

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The Morgan SuperSport Jnr. was available from London’s Harrod’s Department Store. Image from motorauthority.com.

The Morgan website noted, “Suitable for 6-13 year olds, this authentic and lifelike 3-speed crank pedal car is similar to a recumbent bicycle.” A series of 500 was announced in 2009; Harrod’s Department Store listed the SuperSport Jnr. in 2011 for £3600, about $5600 at the time, excluding VAT and shipping.

Ferrari Type 330 P/2. Automobile SCAF, a Parisian fabricator, built this diminutive Type 330 P/2 under license from Maranello. In fact, Enzo Ferrari commissioned one for Gil Rossellini, son of his friend, film director Roberto Rossellini.

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Automobile SCAF Type Ferrari 330 P/2, chassis no. 089, sold for $30,800 at the 2016 Amelia Island Auction. Images from Bonhams.

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Today, the 330 P/2 has independent suspension, four-wheel brakes and a five-speed transmission, its original motor replaced with a 200-cc single-cylinder Honda. According to Bonhams, it offers “performance of a fast go-kart, cleverly disguised with ever graceful lines of a 330 P2.”

Baby Bugatti. My last example has the most complex history of the three. Marshall Buck, car modeler extraordinaire, researched and clarified matters concerning the Baby Bugatti in velocetoday.com’s “Ettore’s Baby Blue: The Type That Never Was.”

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The Baby Bugatti with Roland Bugatti at the wheel. His older brother Jean and a Type 43 put the Baby Bugatti’s 1/2 scale in perspective. This, the following image and insights from Marshall Buck at velocetoday.com.

Ettore Bugatti had the first Baby Bugatti built for his five-year-old son Roland. Word got around, and the car made its official debut at the 1927 Milan Salon. Examples were priced at 3900 francs, around $153 in U.S. dollars of the time, perhaps $2000 today. By contrast, a Type 43 GS, similar to the full-size car pictured above, went for 107,500 francs in 1927, perhaps a bit more than $4200 in the era’s dollar, $58,000 today.

It became quite the thing for Molsheim clientele ordering a full-size Bugatti to add a Baby variant for a child in the family. In addition to Roland, silver-spooned kids included the Crown Prince of Morocco, destined to be Hassan II, and Fiat heir Giovanni Agnelli, destined to head the company.

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The Crown Prince of Morocco gets piloting instructions from le Patron, Ettore Bugatti.

Perhaps 500 Baby Bugattis were produced at the Molsheim works between 1927 and 1930. Their popularity among Bugatti owners led to races organized for their kids.

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Below, “Robert Benoist’s beret was frequently copied.” Images from Bugatti Magnum

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The Baby Bugatti acquired the nomenclature Type 52, even in authoritative histories of the marque. However, Marshall Buck’s research convinced him that the factory always called it the Type Baby or Baby Bugatti.

Certainly the Baby Bugatti’s technicalities were enough to excite any budding enthusiast: aluminum bodywork patterned after the Type 35‘s, leather hood straps, cast aluminum wheels, Dunlop tires that were exactly 1/2-scale of the original ones, a 12-volt electric motor geared to the rear axle and a maximum speed of “15 à 18 KM à L’Heure,” 10–12 mph.

Quelle gamins heureuses! What happy kids! ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016

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