May 30, 2023

Still In The Factory Crate: A Bugatti Type 52 Go Kart

This is a Bugatti Type 52 replica that remains in its original factory crate, having never been removed or driven. It's now being offered for sale out of Waterford, Wisconsin and it has aluminum bodywork finished in red over a black leather interior.

The original Bugatti Type 52 was built by Bugatti between 1927 and 1936, they were designed for children and interestingly they had 100% electric drivetrains. Though they were originally designed for fun, they were soon used for semi-serious racing by the children of the European elite.

The Bugatti Type 52 is one of the lesser-known but still fascinating parts of Bugatti's long history. It was not a full-sized production automobile, but rather a half-scale electric vehicle designed for children. Often referred to as the "Baby Bugatti," it was initially conceived as a one-off toy for Ettore Bugatti's son, Roland, but its popularity led to limited production from 1927 to 1936.

Here we see Roland Bugatti as a child in his electric Bugatti Type 52, he's sitting in front of his brother Jean Bugatti's Bugatti Type 43, in the courtyard of the Bugatti factory in Molsheim. Image courtesy of the Bugatti Museum in Molsheim.

The Type 52 was inspired by the Bugatti Type 35, one of the most successful racing cars of its time and widely considered to be one of the most successful racing cars by race wins of the 20th century. It featured a scaled-down version of the Type 35's signature horseshoe-shaped radiator grille and an aluminum body with wire-spoke wheels.

The Type 52 was powered by an electric motor that drove the rear wheels through a chain drive system. The electric motor was connected to a battery pack, together they provided enough power for a top speed of around 15-20 km/h (9-12 mph) and a range of about 25 km (15 miles) on a single charge. It had a functional accelerator, brake, and steering system, enabling young drivers to learn fundamental driving skills.

Only about 500 Type 52 models were produced, making it a rare collector's item today. The Baby Bugatti was an exclusive toy for the children of wealthy families and often gifted to royalty, celebrities, and influential individuals.

Although it was designed as a toy it quickly became common for elite European families to organize small races for their children in the cars, with the parents cheering from the sidelines.

The cockpit offers seating for one, or two in a pinch, with a right side steering wheel and a simple control panel. There are two pedals in the footwell and its designed to have an electric motor mounted in the rear.

The Bugatti Type 52 represents a unique chapter in the history of Bugatti, showcasing Ettore Bugatti's passion for engineering and design, his love for his family, and perhaps even some early interest in electric vehicles.

Today as Bugatti slowly moves towards an electric future its interesting to note that the first electric Bugatti was built all the way back in 1927.

There is one officially licensed Bugatti Type 52 in production today by The Little Car Company, and they’re even able to accommodate some adults for an afternoon of fun, though they’re ideally sized for children.

The vehicle you see here is a Bugatti Type 52 replica that's never been removed from its factory crate or driven. It's built on a steel chassis with an aluminum body finished in bright red paintwork, and it has an interior upholstered in black leather.

This Type 52 measures in at 77″ long, 26″ wide, and 22″ high which works out to approximately 196 cm long, 66 cm wide, and 56 cm high. It was bought by the current owner in 2017 and preserved in its current condition.

It's fitted with a rear differential, mechanical brakes, a polished (non-functional) radiator, a louvered hood, leather hood straps, an external handbrake lever, 8″ polished wheels with brass knock-off hubs fitted with 3.25/3.00–8 bias-ply tires, and a Bugatti-branded ammeter.

A matching spare wheel is mounted to the left side of the car, as was often the case on the full-scale Bugatti Type 35.

This is the cradle mount for the electric motor, as you can see it's currently empty, so it’ll be up to the new owner which engine they decide to fit.

The cockpit has a single seat though two kids could likely fit depending on their ages, the steering wheel is on the right hand side, and there is both an accelerator and brake pedal in the footwell. Also in the footwell is a battery tie-down and a can of Bugatti branded touch up paint in the same shade of red as the body.

In the rear of the car behind the seat there's a mount designed for an electric motor, along with a metal strap to secure the motor in place once it's fitted. As noted above this car doesn't come with a motor, so it’ll be up to the new owner to find one themselves, along with a suitable battery, and get it all installed and working.

The owner is selling this Bugatti Type 52 replica out of Waterford, Wisconsin after six years of ownership, and it’ll be the choice of whomever buys it whether they keep it preserved in the crate like this or take it out and getting running as originally intended.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring a Trailer.

Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer.

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This is a Bugatti Type 52 replica that remains in its original factory crate, having never been removed or driven. It's now being offered for sale out of Waterford, Wisconsin and it has aluminum bodywork finished in red over a black leather interior.