Let me set the scene...we are at Pebble Beach, near Monterey, California. It is August 16th, next month, at the end of the annual Concours d'Elegance there. Two days earlier, 35 rare Grand Prix and Sports Bugattis will have participated in the 9th U.S. Bugatti Grand Prix race at Laguna Seca Raceway. (The world's first all-Bugatti Grand Prix race was begun by the car's factory at France's Le Mans circuit in 1928. The series of U.S races began in 1987 at Elkhart Lake's Road America, and since then U.S. Bugatti Grand Prix races have been held every two or three years at important vintage motorsport gatherings from coast to coast.)
A rare Bugatti Atalante at the Mullin Museum
Now, on the 16th, we will see the start of the 2010 International Bugatti Rally. Imagine the sight... 73-80 rare Bugattis from all over the world will be gathered at the site... and will commence a 700 mile trek along the state's beautiful Pacific coast. David Mize, President of the American Bugatti Club, tells me that over 175 participants from 13 countries, constituting one of the world's largest gathering of Bugatti enthusiasts and cars, will participate; entries will range from a 1920 Brescia to a 2010 Veyron Grand Sport. The procession of incredible cars will proceed along Pacific Coast Highway over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Santa Cruz, Big Sur (where they will stop for lunch at Peter and Merle Mullin's beautiful home there, parking in a wildfire meadow above the sea), San Simeon (near Hearst's castle), Central Coast wineries (Laetita among them), Santa Barbara and Solvang. The conclusion of the rally will be at Peter Mullin's incredible new Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard. There, Peter and Merle Mullin will host a gala dinner on August 21st in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the American Bugatti Club.
As a devotee of rare vintage cars, I am enchanted by the Bugatti legacy, which dates back to the year 1909, when Ettore Bugatti opened his factory. From a notably artistic family with its roots in Milan, he was the elder son of a family of Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry designers. Before founding his own company, Ettore designed a number of engines and vehicles for others. Although born in Italy, he set up his eponymous automobile company in Molsheim in the Alsace region, now part of France. He was its technical innovator, developing engines and chassis for the numerous models produced over the next three decades. During the 1930s, he was joined by his son Jean in the production of race cars and grand touring cars that achieved a perfect synthesis of art and technology. In 1998, Volkswagen AG acquired the Bugatti brand and continues the manufacturing in Bugatti's historic home, Molsheim, France.
Buagtti Limousine from the 30s
Peter Mullin filled me in a little on the mystique of the name. "Bugatti owners have always been and always will be enthusiasts who love to drive their cars. The marquee continues to be what Ettore Bugatti dreamed of when he first started designing his own cars - innovative, beautiful and inspiring automobiles. My wife and I are thrilled to be part of this monumental event."
Peter Mullin at the Bugatti section of his museum
You can be sure that this writer will be standing alongside the Oxnard highway in front of the museum in late August as the long line of beautiful cars sweeps into the museum drive. Long live elegance!
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