Friday, July 18, 2014






 Better half Mr. Twister and I trekked to Oxnard, Calif. two weekends ago to eyeball and envy the extensive collection of vintage Bugattis and Art Deco art and artifacts at the Mullin Automotive Museum.

French by way of Italy Famille Bugatti was a fascinating one: patriarch Carlo designed upscale furniture and horse carriages, son Ettore designed and manufactured these fabulous cars first utilizing the family carriageworks, and son Rembrandt became a valid animalier sculptor. Both sons' automotive and sculpted bronze art remain acclaimed for their respective sleek Art Deco designs and fetch prices in the multiple millions of dollars, pounds, Euros, yen, what have you to this day. Engineering-wise, Bugattis raced at speed of 120 mph in the 1920s when most cars only could attain 50 mph...

Below, Mr. Twister amidst some partially or unrestored specimens of the former Schlumpf collection. This was a secret repository of 400 vintage cars that only were discovered by the outside world when the family textile factory workers rioted, burned and looted the property in Mulhouse, France while its owners fled back to Switzerland, in debt with the law on their heels. Also, pictured, a vintage Carlo Bugatti horse cart.

Above, one of six Bugatti Royales ever made, a 1928 behemoth sedan that weighed 7,000 lbs. and was 21 feet long, far too big to fit in my camera frame. Its hood ornament was a rearing elephant. In the vintage photo (photographer unkown) below provided for scale, I feel for the poor chauffeur: there was no power steering in those days. 
Of the six vehicles made, only three at the time ever were sold: the auto was too over the top even for its era's royalty. The Bugatti Royale's 12.7 litre straight-8 engine block was 4.5 feet long and 3.5 feet tall (a world record to this day) and later was used to power railway trains!  

Below, fascinating display idea with projected LCD of the in situ car behind it: a 70-year-old Bugatti Brescia retrieved of late from the bottom of a Swiss lake, right where extreme martinet officials had dumped it for non-payment of import duties, imagine...

 As Bugattis indeed ooze upscale Art Deco chic, the exhibit featured not only statues by the genuinely talented animalier Rembrandt Bugatti but also luxe objet's d'art by the finest from the 1920s and 30s.

This statuette reminded me of the wonderful retro-burlesque artist Cleo Viper (see LINK.) Newly liberated with the right to vote, the independent-minded but fun-loving flappers of the 1920s Jazz Age were the first revival of "girl power" in western cultures since the legend of  the original Amazons.

Another view of flapper and Borzois, plus the Rembrandt Bugatti-designed elephant mascot for the mighty Royale, plus panther at bottom of this page.

"The Art of Bugatti" exhibits only until the end of 2014 at the Mullin Automotive Museum located in Oxnard, Calif. It's only open two Saturdays per month and requires ticket purchase in advance. Go to LINK for ticket sales and info.

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