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The History Of The Bugatti 100P, And Why It Took 77 Years For Its First Flight

Ettore Bugatti's design flew for the first time this week, 77 years after its development began. Here's the history of the famous designer's plane.

1) Ettore Bugatti built thousands of high-end cars, but he only built one airplane: the Bugatti 100P.

Bugatti Trust

2) The 100P was a leap forward in aerodynamics and technology. And true to the Bugatti's style, it was a beautiful and futuristic aircraft.

Pete West

3) Bugatti and his engineer, Louis de Monge, set out to break the world speed record with the 100P. They estimated the aircraft would be able to reach speeds of nearly 500 MPH.

Pete West

4) Development of the 100P started in 1938, with the goal of finishing the aircraft in time for the Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup Race the next year.

Jaap Horst

5) The 100P had a twin engine design, using Bugatti 50B car engines that produced 450 HP each.

6) It also had contra-rotating propellers driven through drive shafts on either side of the pilot.

7) The aircraft wasn't done in time for the race deadline, and the it was put in storage prior to Germany invading France in WWII. The 100P never made it off the ground.

Bugatti Trust

8) Surprisingly, the aircraft survived the war, and in 1971, restoration started.


9) The airframe was fully restored, and it's now at the EAA museum in Oshkosh, WI. Due to exposure to the elements, the airframe would never be airworthy again.

Scotty Wilson

10) In 2011, a team started building a replica of the 100P, with the goal of making the aircraft fly decades after the design began.

Scotty Wilson

11) This week, through the help of a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign, the Bugatti 100P replica flew for the first time.

Video credit:

12) Unfortunately, during landing the right gear brake failed, and the aircraft departed the runway and low speed.

Video credit:

13) Designers hope to have the airplane back in the air shortly, so they can continue fulfilling the dream that Ettore Bugatti started 77 years ago.

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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