Simanaitis Says

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ETTORE BUGATTI WAS KNOWN as Le Patron, French loosely for “the Boss,” with factory and estate located in Molsheim, Alsace, in a portion of eastern France that had been western Germany now and again. However, Bugatti was Italian-born, in Milan, in 1881.

Thus, the idea of Le Patron’s personal pasta machine might not sound all that bizarre. But, there’s more: Lot No. 16 at Bonhams’ 2020 Amelia Island auction was a pasta machine actually designed by Ettore Bugatti, with a good story attached.

The one-of-a-kind Bugatti pasta machine. Image from Sports Car Market, June 2020.

As noted in the Bonhams’ 2020 Amelia Island Auction catalog, “Besides being a legendary craftsman and car maker, Ettore Bugatti was also a very particular gourmand. Famously well mannered, and expecting the same from his guests, he is understood to have refused to sell a gentleman of royal lineage a car on account of his poor table manners.”

Imagine the quandary, then, when Le Patron’s Italian chef “reported that the pasta machine had broken and it would be some time before a new one could be delivered to Alsace.”

Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti, 1881–1947, Italian-born French automaker extraordinaire.

Bugatti had already designed monogramed cutlery for his estate’s dining room. So it seemed appropriate that he design his own replacement for the broken pasta machine. As described by Mark Wigginton in Sports Car Market, June 2020, Bugatti gave the design to his craftsmen for fabrication. “They probably skipped lunch,” Wigginton notes.

This and other images from catalog for Bonham’s Amelia Island Auction, March 5, 2020.

Whereas most pasta machines have hand cranks or, these days, digital controls, the Bugatti design was fitted with a Type 46 steering wheel from the Molsheim stock. Even before sharing its steering wheel with a pasta machine, Bugatti’s Type 46 had an interesting tale to tell.

A Pair of Sobriquets. In Bugatti Magnum, Hugh Conway wrote, “By 1928 Bugatti must have realised that sales of the Type 41 Royale would probably be difficult to say the least, and the deposition of King Alfonso in Spain would have been a severe blow…. In 1929 he turned his attention to the design of a more sensible large car, heavily enough built to take the finest coachwork and much more closely competing with Hispano-Suiza and Rolls-Royce.”

This new car was the Type 46, introduced at the 1929 Paris Salon and having immediate sales success. In April 1, 1930, the British magazine Motor had an article on what it called “The 32.5 H.P. Bugatti,” this being Brit Road Tax-speak for the Type 46’s 5350-cc straight-eight.

The Bugatti Type 46 tested by Motor, April 1, 1930. Image from Bugatti Type 10 to Type 251 (Road Test Portfolio), Brooklands Books, 2010.

The Motor testers wrote, “… the driver of the five-litre is encouraged to get into top gear as soon as possible and to stay in top. The car then handles in a manner reminiscent of a large American car.”

Hugh Conway referred to this Type 46 roadster, with door for golf clubs, as being “very American in style.” Image from Bugatti Magnum.

Because of its character and ubiquity (some 400 were produced), the Type 46 earned the sobriquet “the Molsheim Buick.” More reverently, and reflecting its scaled-down Royale nature, Conway preferred to call it the Dauphin.

Making Pasta. The Bugatti machine was designed to be clamped to a table edge with its wheel perpendicular to the floor. Extrusions of pasta passed through a choice of die threaded into the bottom of the device.

At Bonhamss’ March 5, 2020, Amelia Island Auction, the Bugatti pasta machine fetched $37,575 including premium. Its new owner also received Le Patron’s favorite three pasta shapes.

Le Patron’s pasta dies. Image from Sports Car Market, June 2020.

I wonder whether a die for Giorgetto Giugaro’s Marille pasta could be adapted to the Bugatti machine? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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