- The Bucciali brothers’ original Paris Salon display chassis
- Exhibits fascinating engineering, including a mock-up U-16 engine
- Formerly part of Harrah’s Automobile Collection; restored by their famous shops
- Accompanied by a copy of its Harrah’s research file
- One of very few surviving authentic manufacturer’s display chassis from the Classic Era
Bucciali was an automaker that was never really an automaker at all. The two Bucciali brothers, Angelo and Paul-Albert, were not out to build complete automobiles for the public; rather, they were big-dreaming engineers, who used their show cars to promote their numerous patented inventions for automobiles, most avidly a system of front-wheel-drive, or Traction Avant, abbreviated by them as TAV. To draw attention to the designs they assembled a handful of truly striking vehicles, exhibited at the Paris Salon to tremendous press between 1927 and 1932. Today, the beauty and craftsmanship of Bucciali’s front-wheel-drive prototypes is fondly remembered, and the three surviving cars built by the firm are among the most memorable of the era.
Huet notes that this chassis, referred to originally as the TAV2, was purpose-built as a display piece for the salons. Originally outfitted with a Cime engine and Sensaud de Lavaud gearbox, it was rebuilt for 1930 as the so-called “Double Huit,” with a U-16 engine (the design called for two vertically oriented inline-eight-cylinder banks arranged in parallel), live rear axle, left-hand-drive steering, and a more prominent radiator shell and headlamps. It was a hint at the dreams to come, and dreams they were—the engine was a hollow mock-up.
Following its show display, the chassis was kept more or less in storage. In 1960 it was sold to the pioneering French collector Serge Pozzoli whose maxim, “Interesting cars find those who deserve them,” certainly applied to this acquisition. Pozzoli stored the Bucciali until 1969, when the chassis was sold to the famed Harrah’s Automobile Collection. Harrah’s undertook a complete restoration—reportedly finding 1930 French newspapers still wadded up inside the engine—and exhibited it for nearly two decades.
As the Harrah collection was dispersed in the late 1980s, the chassis was eventually acquired by a private collection in Northern California, then by the current collection some three decades ago. It has been well-detailed, with a few flourishes such as added pinstriping, and as a display piece remains in very good overall condition, with its paint still having a rich shine and holding up well, and its woodwork in beautiful order. Still, a non-functional display piece as it has always been, it is accompanied by a copy of its Harrah’s research and restoration file.
Both a one-off testament to fascinating engineering and a scarce survivor of the display chassis that were once a fixture of the auto shows and salons of the Classic Era, the “Double Huit” is sure to be one of the foremost conversation pieces in any collection.