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The Bugatti Bebe, often referred to as the Type 52, was sold as a half-size replica of the Bugatti Type 35, the dominant European racing car of the mid-1920s. Designed by Ettore Bugatti for his 5-year-old son Roland, the Bebe was powered by a 12-volt Paris-Rhone electric motor. This well-presented example, numbered 245A, is offered after more than four decades in the collection of noted California Bugatti collector Dr. Richard Riddell.
Launched at the Milan Salon of 1927, the enthusiasm generated by the Bebe justified a production run, despite its 5,000-franc price. Customers included Moroccan and Belgian royalty, as well as notable family names in the US such as DuPont. Although always intended as a toy, the Bebe appeared in the factory catalogue, and each example had a serial number stamped behind the seat and on the firewall. After its initial success, Bugatti designed a longer wheelbase version for taller children. About 500 Bebes were sold between 1927 and 1938, with about 100 surviving today.
Chassis 245A, a 1,320 mm long-wheelbase version, appears in the American Bugatti Register and has been with its current keeper since 1973. The Bebe has not been operated in decades, remaining in static display in the owner’s esteemed collection. Previously restored and recently detailed, 245A may be the ultimate collectible for the Bugatti devotee.