March 29, 2009

Bucciali TAV

After Wilhelm Maybach’s, another busy life: that of Jean-Albert Bucciali.

A little history

Despite having no formal training as an engineer, Bucciali set on building an extraordinary car at an early age – and do many other things along the way. Born in Normandy in 1889, Bucciali was thirteen when witnessing a local car race changed his life forever: though he was studying philosophy, he eagerly read all technical books he could put his hands on, and soon boasted that, one day, he too would build a car.

His ambition somewhat went out of control, as instead of building a car, he ended up building an airplane that he called the Buc. The year was 1911 and aviation was still in its infancy. Many people were trying hard to make airborne heavier-than-air of their own designs. Bucciali succeeded on his very first attempt, while himself sat at the controls, though he had never learned how to fly. Soon Bucciali was among the only fliers around the world to master the looping.

Such an adventurous – and patriotic – character would obviously enlist as soon as the first shots were fired in the summer of 1914. Bucciali chose aviation, naturally. He ended up an ace of the Escadrille des Cigognes, the famous “Storks’ Fighters Squadron”, and despite fighting for two years and a half on both the Western and the Eastern front, was able to survive the conflict.

Back in civilian clothes, the daring young man finally fulfilled his dream, building his very own car and racing it in various national events. His racer was so successful that he decided to go one step further and enter automobile manufacture. In October 1922, the first Buc was introduced at the Paris motor show.

Although the prototype was fitted with a small two-stroke, supercharged engine, the small number of production Bucs had more conventional four- then six-cylinder motors. They performed well and were highly praised by their owners as both road and racing cars. This wasn’t enough for Bucciali who, with the help of his elder brother Angelo, was now determined to build a front-wheel drive automobile.

During the 1926 Paris motor show, the public discovered the Bucciali TAV 1, which despite being incomplete was still the talk of the event. A perfectionist, Jean-Albert Bucciali kept refining his original design, presenting the TAV 2 and the TAV 3 before the end of the decade. A V16 engine was also planned, but only a mock-up had ever been built.

Sadly, the Bucciali cars were attracting nothing more than interest. The brothers never got the vital financial support they would have needed to launch the production of their stunning automobile. Running out of money, they threw the towel in 1932. Ironically, they had just delivered their latest TAV 8-32 to a delighted Parisian, their very first customer. This ultimate Bucciali featured a striking “Flèche d’Or” body by Saoutchik, its extremely low lines being emphasized by its huge 24-inch wheels. The TAV 8-32 was propelled by a Voisin V12.

Jean-Albert Bucciali died in 1981. Over a decade, only a handful of Bucs and half-a-dozen Buccialis had been built.

About the model

Model: Bucciali TAV 8-32 "Flèche d'Or"
Year: 1932
Maker: Ixo
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Altaya as no.23 of its Voitures Classiques press series
Acquired: brand new, in August 2006, in Souillac, France

It’s the most famous Bucciali that Ixo decided to reproduce, as this car is not only spectacular, it is also still extant today, which made the Chinese manufacturer’s job easier. Though a press series release, the model is extremely well done and, even reduced forty-three times in size, still an impressive car on the shelf. Only the stork represented on the sides of the bonnet, reminiscent of Bucciali's flying days in the army, had been seriously simplified - the original, difficult to reproduce in scale, looked thinner and was actually decorated in three different colours, being plated in gold, silver and bronze. They don't build cars this way nowadays... I’d give 14/20 to this nice model.




Anonymous said...

It's a pity Ixo got the number on the plate wrong, 1710BA3 is the correct registration. I'm not sure why they finished the trim around the edges of the wings in a sort of cream instead of bright metal. The rear light cluster on the left-hand rear wing is missing. Apart from these things, quite a good model of a rare and unique car.

lorenzo721 said...

Oh what a piece of luck, a Bucciali specialist! Thanks for your enlightened comments. I didn't compare the model with a picture of the original while preparing this post, so I completely missed these details. But as you said, this is still a very good model of a seldom-seen car (I have measured this by the very small number of fellow collectors visiting at home who have ever heard the name Bucciali).