The Bugatti 100P is a streamlined organic flying manta ray with counter-rotating propellers and two screaming supercharged straight eights. It’s half flying machine, half H.P. dream. Bugatti only made one and sadly, it never flew the skies in anger. Now, however, a group of intrepid engineers are bringing it back to life in the form of a meticulous, full-size reproduction.
Ettore Bugatti built the 100P to compete in the 1939 Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup Race. This was the hay day of aviation, when winged monsters like the Gee Bee tore the skies asunder in pursuit of ultimate speed. Usually in the presence of an audience. It was by all accounts, incredible.
The 100P, like all of Bugatti’s creations, was wildly innovative. Its design was stunning, with forward-swept wings, a Y-shaped empennage (tail section) and an almost totally transparent cockpit. Its mechanicals were equally marvelous, featuring two Bugatti 50P supercharged straight eight engines mounted behind the pilot. Twin drive shafts ran from each engine (spinning in opposite directions) to turn the dual propellers up front. Special radiators were mounted in the fuselage with air intakes at the leading edge of the stabilizers. Each engine was good for 450 horsepower.
The 100P was a stupendous aeronautical achievement and would likely have set speed records in the skies over Europe. Then the Nazis marched on Paris. The plane was put in storage during the war. After the war, it was rescued and restored, but not flown. It eventually ended up in the hands of the Experimental Aircraft Association, which displays the plane at the Air Venture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Bugatti and experimental aircraft enthusiasts have long dreamed of seeing the 100P soar. That’s why businessman Scotty Wilson started a project to recreate the plane almost 30 years ago. Remarkably, he and his team are nearly finished with the reproduction. They need just $50,000 to finish. And they’ve turned to Kickstarter for help. Head on over to the project page to give them some love. The 100P is probably the most beautiful flying machine ever devised and it deserves to, well, fly.