As a long-time Bugatti aficionado, the owner of this 1920s-era Bugatti Brescia says he wanted to “start his daughter out right”. In 1989 she was a few years old, and after a misadventure with a child’s-size Maserati 250F, something else was in order. Returning to France from Monaco one day, he passed a ‘junk’ shop and saw a brass radiator and familiar badge in the window.
It belonged to half-sized child’s version of an early Bugatti T13 before the oval radiator shell was used. It looked remarkably correct for an eight-valve Bugatti. After some haggling he secured the vehicle. He’s never learned when or whom built it, but the components suggest 1920s.
It had a single-cylinder air-cooled engine and a planetary gearbox with two forward speeds and a reverse. Starting was via a crank, and the paint and leather were very worn. He had it refurbished in his own workshop, during which an electric starter was added, the bodywork was repainted in Bugatti blue and the seats were re-trimmed in new hide. The lights were electrified, as well.
His then-three-year-old daughter took to the Brescia immediately, and despite rather ineffective brakes she was soon charging around the garden. The family used the Bugatti for many years, and also took it to several vintage car events along with his full-size models. His daughter drove it onto the podium in one of the first Greenwich Concours in Connecticut, and raced it up the hill in the Castle Hill VSCCA event as well. She even drove it carefully to town a few times in their hamlet. She grew and the car didn’t – but she did learn that if she couldn’t stop it when needed, she would circle it around, just like her pony.
When she was about nine years old she finally outgrew the Bugatti and graduated to driving a Fiat Jolly. The Brescia has been kept in good fettle, and one day perhaps grandchildren will also learn the rudiments and pleasure of driving it.