As well as being a designer and manufacturer of rather splendid cars, Ettore Bugatti also made railcars.
The Bugatti railcars, known as autorails, were first built in 1933 as single, double or triple car units with two or four linked 12.7 ltr petrol engines. Each car had two 8 wheel bogies. The engines were surplus from the production of the Bugatti Royale cars, as there was little demand for the huge vehicle.
This modular system, with powered and trailer cars was arranged in various combinations giving small 36 seater units up to a 3 car 144 seat set. The fastest and most comfortable was known as The Presidential and had 4 engines giving 800 hp in a 2 car 48 seats luxury set. One of these units achieved 122mph in 1934, setting a new world rail speed record.
The Bugatti factory built and maintained more than a hundred railcar units, incorporating many new and ground breaking design ideas, but used cable operated twin shoe drum brakes were similar to the Bugatti car brakes.
Their petrol engines were not cheap to run, and in the later part of the decade they were phased out on economic grounds. One unit is preserved, in La Cité du train railway museum in Mulhouse, near the French/German/Swiss border.
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