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Type 13 Torpedo
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  Bugatti Type 13 Torpedo

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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1913 - 1920
Numbers built:435 (all models)
Introduced at:1910 Paris Motor Show
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionItalian born Ettore Bugatti spent most of the first decade of the 20th century designing cars and engines for French companies like Deutz. In those years he came to the conclusion that weight was a designer's biggest enemy. So he set out to design a small light weight car, which would be the first to bear his name. The small car was based off the Type 10 designed in 1909.

Not afraid to try his luck Ettore dubbed his first car the Type 13. With a tiny engine and ultra low weight Bugatti moved in the opposite direction as many of his competitors did. Two longer wheelbase versions of the 13 were also offered, the Type 15 with 2400 mm wheelbase and the Type 17 with 2550 mm wheelbase compared to the 13's 2000 mm wheelbase.

Its low weight and small dimensions might the Type 13 a very agile racer and from time to time more than a match for the much more powerful competition. In 1911 Ettore drove a 13 in the voiturette class of the French Grand Prix and finished second overall and first in class.

In 1913 the Bugatti range was extensively modified. These cars could be easily identified as they were fitted with an oval shape radiator compared to the squarish ones seen on the first Bugattis. Rear suspension was modified to reversed quarter-ellyptic leaf springs a feature found on many future Bugattis. The modified Type 13 kept its name but the longer wheelbase Type 15 and Type 17 received new names, Type 22 and Type 23 respectively.

Production lasted until 1920, with the First World War interfeering in 1914. Its replacement was the 16 valve Brescia model, that's 4 valves per cylinder. For the Brescia Bugatti retained the Type 13, 22 and 23 indications for the three wheelbases.

The featured example is one of the first of the second batch of Type 13s. It is seen here in the Musee National d'Automobile (the ex-Schlumpf collection) in Mulhouse, France.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications