Editor: Jaap Horst
At the Artcurial auction during the 2022 edition of the Retromobile, an exceptional model was offered, a large scale (1:10) very detailed miniature of the AutoRail "Double". The model was in relatively bad shape, with some repairs being started, but not completed.
Compare the two photographs of the SNCF model, with that of the PLM (B&W), they are taken from the same side. The model is the same, number of windows, locations of the windows and other details match. Can it be that the PLM model was changed to SNCF colours, thus that the model is exactly the same one? Seems logical, especially knowing the difficult financial situation Bugatti found itself in, in those years.
Interestingly, though there were Bugatti AutoRails in SNCF colours (colours changed later), Bugatti never sold an AutoRail directly to the SNCF. The SNCF was founded in 1937 and actually started in January 1938, and was formed by the nationalisation of 5 railroad companies. This directly gives a year to this model of the AutoRail, must have been 1938 or 1939, probably to try and get a SNCF contract.
Info from Artcurial:
Autorail Bugatti, exceptional exhibition scale model
The monumental dimensions, the quality of manufacture, the choice of materials, the extremely detailed treatment of all the interior parts, the old lighting system are all specific elements of the exhibition models. It is highly probable that this spectacular set, perhaps produced directly by the Bugatti workshops, was used to promote the Bugatti Autorail. Today, it is a beautiful restoration project requiring a complete refurbishment. Although some elements are missing or damaged, it is nevertheless an exceptional piece, a moving testimony to the epic of the Bugatti railroad.
Estimate 20,000 - 30,000 euro, sold for 86,592 euro
Thus, the buyer must have been equally convinced as I am that the model was either made by Bugatti, or was commissioned by them, to promote their AutoRail. Question is now what he will do: restore the model to "as new" condition, and thus loose all of it's current originality, or leave it as is.. with some rather ugly defects in fact. Maybe just clean it? Is there a way to glue the loosened paint (which was in part stored inside) back on?