A Bugatti for Christmas
By Wayne Batty
At the tender and still impressionable age of 13, Philip Porter received, as a birthday gift from his parents, a veritable tome on Bugatti written by the great expert Hugh Conway. Poring over those pages again and again made quite an impression on him, one that would last a lifetime. While Philip has since built several businesses, a couple inspired by his appreciation for Jaguar sports cars, he has never lost his passion for early Bugattis. And now, finally, he has one. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The contents of late great British designer Sir Terence Conran’s home in Berkshire included a 16-strong collection of Bugatti pedal cars that he’d purchased from a retired automotive executive in France.
Above: A row of blue Bugatti pedal cars hanging on the wall in the late Sir Terence Conran’s home, Barton Court, in Berkshire. Image credit: Bonhams
When Philip heard that Sir Terence’s pedal-car collection was up for sale, via Bonhams, he jumped at the chance to participate in the mid-December auction and possibly buy one. Negotiating the online auction perils like an old pro (beginner’s luck perhaps), he went for one of the earlier lots before the other bidders became increasingly desperate to obtain one. As a result, he got off relatively lightly, and came away with a 1933 ‘Bugatti’ Touriste Model pedal car by Eureka. And collected it just in time for Christmas.
Above: Four-spoke steering wheel, dashboard and instruments, radiator cap, opening door, side horn, cracked paint on the left rear disc – just wonderful in every way. Image credit: Bonhams
Painted yellow and black – Ettore’s favourite, with a louvred bonnet, black cycle wings, disc wheels, working boot lid, leather seat, internal hand brake, chromed radiator surround and printed tin badge, it’s a wonderful throwback to an era of motoring romance. And while it may not be an actual full-size Type 35, 41 or 57, it’ll be cherished just the same.
‘I am thrilled,’ says Philip. ‘I have had a passion for Ettore’s Bugattis for over 50 years. I fear this is the closest I will get to owning a real one but it is the next best thing. At my wife’s suggestion, it is currently residing on the dining room table!
Above: Pride of place: the Bugatti’s temporary display stand is the dining room table. Image credit: Philip Porter
‘It is rather ironic that my Jaguar XK 120 Fixed Head Coupe, in which I have done thousands of miles, is, in my opinion, a poor man’s Type 57 and, at £150 in 1973, cost considerably less than a Bugatti pedal car in 2022!’
Above: A few shots of the other pedal cars waiting for their new owners to collect. Image credit: Philip Porter
Above: It was French Racing Blue for the race cars but many of Bugatti’s road cars were painted in Ettore’s favourite combination of yellow and black. Image credit: Bugatti
Article by Wayne Batty