In 1999 I xeroxed a small thumbnail high rear 3/4 sketch of a custom boattail speedster in an article on Chip Foose in RODDERS JOURNAL. Signing a two year contract and working with Chip, it evolved into the DECO RIDES Boattail Speedster roadster. Doodling around a year or so later, I sketched a coupe roof on that drawing, mimicking the roof off my SCRAPE ’39 Zephyr.
The sketch that hung on my cabinet for 7 years, the sketch that started it all.
Thinking no more about it, I taped that Boattail Coupe sketch up on the cabinet to the immediate left of my chair at work where it hung in plain sight for perhaps 7 years. One day last year I noticed it and wondered what would happen if I took a direct side view of my Generation Two DECO RIDES Boattail, and also took a direct side view of my SCRAPE Zephyr, put them both in the same scale (which was easy as they both had 127-inch wheelbase), cut the roof off the Lincoln, and taped it on the boattail? When I did, ZOWIE! Lightning struck and I thought I really had something. I sent my xerox cut n’ paste and instructions to Photoshop whiz Gary Fulkerson (www.COREideation.com) and the result was the beautiful renderings you see on this page.
When I posted these images on the website I experienced an immediate groundswell of positive reaction from car lovers around the world. “When are you going to build this?" "How much will a body cost?" "Can I see rear 3/4 views?” Never have I had such a positive reaction to one of my concoctions. While a number of people said they loved it and wanted one, nobody stepped up to finance such an undertaking. Because of the grim economic climate, and because I had just sunk a pile of my dough into the DECO LINER and BUGNOTTI, I was in no position to go forward with the BOATTAIL COUPE until…
When I sold the BUGNOTTI in January ‘09 I could suddenly follow my Boattail Coupe dream for a few more miles. I dropped a bare DECO Boattail roadster fiberglass body with no interior metal support, a pair of Gen Two Boattail rear fenders and a Zephyr coupe roof of at Gary Brown’s in Indianapolis (BROWN'S METAL MODS).
I had also been working for almost three years to acquire a pair of fiberglass replica Type 57 front fenders and a replica steel Type 57S grille shell. You have no idea how difficult this was. My life with cars has gone through an evolution from leadsleds and customs into French coachbuilt cars from the late 1930s. Of late it has drifted to a love of Bugattis. The success I enjoyed selling the BUGNOTTI with a Type 57 grille shell for more than $200,000 is part of that evolution, and the Boattail Coupe is the next step.
One objective of the new Boattail Coupe Project was to have sufficient shoulder to shoulder room for two
big guys to sit inside comfortably, as well as sufficient headroom for guys 6 foot 6 inches tall.
By widening the body and designing the top and floorboards accordingly, we are accomplishing that goal.
Fiberglass fenders and widened DECO boattail roadster body with SCRAPE Zephyr roof and repro
Type 57S Bugatti being cobbled together in the very early stages at BROWN'S METAL MODS in Indianapolis.
Now the task is to keep working on it and taking the ugly parts away with a beautiful result. Future plans call
for optional Talbot Lago style front clip as well as Type 57 Bugatti grille and shell with Generation Two
"pontoon" fenders. We also plan to ofer a "production" chassis for the Boattail Coupe.
In January 2009 I dropped the stack of fiberglass off at Gary’s and told him to start “cobbling” together the assorted parts. He and brother Dillon knocked out a simple rolling frame to hold the parts in position and they set to work. Having worked with Gary and Dillon on the DECO LINER delivery project, I knew Gary was blessed with a good “eye” for design and I had learned to respect his input. As you can see from the attached photo, the first look at this car (Feb. 14th) showed a gawky, semi-ugly cluster of fiberglass parts. My whole approach is to keep making the ugly parts go away, and the result will (hopefully) be a beautiful creation. The first thing he did was widen the Boatail roadster body six to seven inches so two big shouldered guys could sit comfortably inside. The other demand I put on Gary was that a 6 foot 6 inch driver had to fit comfortably inside, and be able to get in and out of the car.
Progress shot as of Feb. 26, 2009. Ugliness is melting away, and beauty is coming to the surface.
Feb. 27, 2009. With a little Photoshop magic from Steve Pierce, hood and side panels are added,
rear door jamb is changed, bodywork primered here and there, less ugly, more beauty.
Outside BROWN'S METAL MODS March 3, 2009 awaiting transport to a
secret rendezvous with Mr. X at Detroit AUTORAMA
Under the mystic influence of true revolutionary Scott Whitaker of DYNAMAT in Hamilton, OH, I opted to use a pair of tall and skinny wire wheels and Coker Tires to give the car the 1930s European look. Stay tuned as we have some surprises brewing for this project. We promise it will be different.
A CHUCKLE: When we first posted pictures of Gary Fulkerson's Photoshop DECO RIDES Boattail Coupe,
my friend Jaap Horst who runs www.bugattipage.com out of Belgium, thought it would be funny if we posted
this image with an old timey looking background and told his audience, hard core Bugatti lovers
from all over the world, that this was a newly discovered photograph of a long lost Figoni & Falaschi bodied
Bugatti. IMMEDIATELY, the same day he posted it on his site, he got responses in Dutch saying it was a
new design from DECO RIDES. I guess you can't fool those Bugatti fans in the Netherlands!
After Lenny Haden surfaced the raw data, Steve Wilkonski, both of REVOLUTION DESIGN STUDIOS,
prepared this rendering of our new Type 57S Coupe.
At the Detroit AUTORAMA in March ’09 I had the DECO LINER and DECO SCOOT Harley ’39 Zephyr Delivery on display. Out in the trailer was our rolling Bugatti Type 57S Coupe buck with a bare BMW V-12 block and transmission mocked up in place. I asked design honchos ED GOLDEN of Ford and retired GM styling guru WAYNE CHERRY to come out and critique our progress. They did, and GARY and DILLON BROWN were there to take their advice, go back to Indy with the cobbled fiberglass roller, and make a number of suggested improvements. I love the way these real car design guys talk in a strange language with words like “tumblehome,” “catwalk,” and “volume.”
Fast forward to Father’s Day Weekend when I had the Zephyr Delivery at EYES ON DESIGN, a great event at the Edsel Ford Estate in Grosse Point Shores, MI. Fate works in strange ways, sometimes really good. At that event I met LEONARD HADEN of REVOLUTION DESIGN STUDIOS in Royal Oak.
Our rolling fiberglass buck from BROWN'S METAL MODS being digitized at
ADVANCED VEHICLE ENGINEERING in Brighton, MI.
At right is the raw 3D data that was derived from that process.
One thing leads to another, and the following month, because of Lenny, the whole Bugatti coupe project kicked out of neutral into overdrive. I brought the “improved” rolling fiberglass buck to AUTOMOTIVE VEHICLE ENGINEERING in Brighton, MI where it was digitized (powdered, targeted, and scanned in three dimensions). That raw data was turned over to Leonard. We sat for an afternoon scrutinizing, critiquing, and reshuffling the exterior lines, curves, humps and bumps. I’ve been exposed to some “surfacing” on the Delahaye project with SEAN HALPIN, but I’m still amazed at how this technology transports an ordinary hot rod builder/designer “through the looking glass” into a parallel dimension. Tell Lenny to change the beltline arc or location and, with a few clicks of the keypad, and a few moments to wait for the ‘puter lag, ZOWIE, the new better beltline appears on screen. Of course it’s digital, in three dimensions, so you can spin the car around to look at it from any angle! And if you don’t like what you see, just tweak it a bit more to fix it.
Back in our Jersey office it was a snap to communicate by phone and computer working with Lenny and STEVE WILKONSKI, one of the three principals of REVOLUTION DESIGN STUDIOS, regarding what needed to be done. With years of experience working in the “real” automotive industry in Detroit, with me barking orders and cajoling them to change this or that, Steve and Lenny whipped out an externally Class A surfaced Bugattiesque coupe in about 10 quick days, including them thrashing on weekends and nights! They got an amazing amount of work done in an incredibly short time.
We were facing a deadline. What we were aiming for was suitable data to send to DAN BOLFING at CONTACTSCALE in Moffett Field, CA. I was preparing for my booth at RETRO AUTO, Aug. 13-16, 2009 at the PEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS. Since I knew I could not have my new Type 57S coupe done for that event, I settled for the next best thing, a 1/4 scale model prepared by Dan in a tight time frame (less than a month). Dan’s expertise deals with CNC cutting high density foam on one of his 5-axis mills. Photos to come.
And that’s where the adventure leaves us for now, preparing for Pebble while Dan’s computer-controlled milling machines are chipping away at a quarter scale model.
Stay tuned for the further adventures…
Another Steve Wilkonski rendering, this one showing optional rear fender skirt rather than open wheelwell,
small fin on deck rather than deck mounted spare tire, and a traditional Type 57S two tone paint scheme.
And did we tell you that there will be a roadster version of this car coming down the pipe?
Latest development in evolution of our Type 57S Coupe is this 1/4 scale model
CNC cut from foam by CONTACTSCALE in Moffett Field, CA.
A one-minute video of our early, unfinished 1/4 scale CNC cut model of our Bugnotti Coupe.
The model is being completed to be displayed at the Amelia Island Concours Mar. 12-14,
the LA Roadsters Swap Meet in Pomona, CA Aug. June 18-20, Palo Alto, CA Concours June
26-27, and Pebble Beach Concours RETRO AUTO Aug. 13-15. We also hope to debut our new
carbon fiber bodied "Bella Figura" Bugnotti coupe at Pebble Beach Aug. 13-15.
Making a scale model of this nature allows you to look at the design from all angles to verify
that you approve of the shapes and proportions. Come see it for yourself!
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BUGNOTTI COUPE - CLICK HERE
ATTENTION: This design has a patent applied for and anyone copying or reproducing our design will be severely prosecuted by Appleton Productions.