Jacob's Bugatti Pages


5 litre, including Type Garros, with "Black Bess"

1912, Type 16, or - popularly - "Type Garros"
The transparent bonnet is for display purposes.
Photo: Jacob Munkhammar, Reference


When Ettore Bugatti left Deutz to start his own factory in Molsheim he brought with him three cars (or chassis?). These where modified and became chassis no. 471, 472 and 473.
They had a five litre, three valve per cylinder, straight four engine, and chain drive. The five litre racers, being modified Deutz cars, are the only cars wearing the Bugatti badge that had chain drive.
The first appearance of these cars was in 1912.

Bugatti decides to start production of this car and the first one, chassis no. 474, was ordered by French aviation hero Roland Garros. He buys it as a chassis and has it fitted with an open two-seater body by Labourdette.
Garros is shot down twice during WWI and the second time it's fatal. 474 goes through several hands, and in the '20s it is owned by Ms. Ivy Cumming, successful racing driver herself and daughter of Sydney Cummings; she gives the car the name "Black Bess" after the horse in Cowper's poem about Dick Turpin.

Five litre Bugattis appear in Indianapolis 500 both in 1914 and 1915. The 1914 car has a longer stroke (180mm) and shaft drive (!), while the 1915 car has a shorter stroke (150mm) than the standard car and, again, chain drive.

Possibly a handful more of these cars where produced but most probably not much more than a dozen in all.

At the outbreak of WWI, Ettore brings one of these cars, chassis no. 715, to Italy.

There is a lot of confusion about how these cars where actually designated. I have chosen to have the first three cars, the modified Deutz cars, 471-473, undesignated, and the cars starting with 474, bought by Roland Garros and first one actually manufactured in Molsheim, I call "Type Garros". This seems to be the most widely accepted designations.

Many, though, want to give them type numbers, and I understand this. It is very likely that they had at least inofficial numbers, following Ettore's logics. William Boddy, author of the only Black Bess monography, calls all five litre Bugattis "Type 18". I am more inclined to believe the three first cars (471-473) where "Type 16" and starting with Garros' car where "Type 18".

PS. Ettore's second son, Roland, is also named after the flying ace, Roland Garros.


Years made: 1908,1912-14
Engine type: 4 cyl. in-line
Engine size: 5 litre (100x160)
Drive: chain
Front suspension: solid axle,
1/2-elliptical springs
Rear suspension: solid axle
Brakes: cable operated drums


The accuracy of the above information is not guaranteed. However, the information is compiled with the sincerest intentions of accuracy. Corrections, comments and additions are gladly received!
This is copyrighted material! You may NOT use the text without expressed permission from the author. Photographs are copyright of the respective photographer and used with permission.

Navigate: Jacob's Bugatti Pages:
[ News | Cars and Machines | Information Hunt | Articles | Museums | Art | Links ]
[ Pre-Bugatti | Bugatti | Other Marques | non-Cars | Remodellings | Resurrection | Replicas ]
Type 14 < -- Type 16 & 18 -- > Type 13, 22 & 23

Editor: Jacob Munkhammar.     Design: MUNKHAMMAR.     Page updated: 5/2-98.