Few know that Ettore Bugatti designed the 100P, one of the most elegant aircraft the sky has never seen.
In the 1930s, the Italian-born entrepreneur had earned a name for himself in the world of luxury cars.
It was during this time that he turned his interests to aviation.
He created an incredibly elegant and powerful plane, but due to personal tragedy, the 100P never took off.
Bugatti created a reputation for himself as a leader in his field with his advanced engineering skills and luxurious vehicles.
After opening his own company in Molsheim, France, he designed the first car to win the Monaco Grand Prix.
Having had a taste of racing success, he began plans to create an aircraft that could compete in the air shows that were popular during this era.
The French Air Ministry agreed to fund the project, with the understanding that he would develop a fighter variant of his plane too.
The 100P was designed with speed in mind and would have been the fastest aircraft in the world had it been completed.
The Supermarine Spitfire, a famously fast fighter plane of World War II, had a top speed of 360mph.
The top speed of the 100P was predicted to be 500mph.
To achieve these speeds, the plane was crafted using aerodynamic-enhancing materials such as magnesium and aluminium.
During its creation, five patents were filed, including one for automatic flap systems.
As is expected from a Bugatti, the plane used cutting-edge technology and was considered highly innovative.
It had retractable landing gear and featured twin engines and a twin-boom configuration.
Its sleek and streamlined exterior put this plane at the intersection of art and engineering, in true Bugatti fashion.
Two major events stopped the 100P from dominating the skies.
First, Jean Bugatti, Ettore’s son, passed away while testing the Type 57 racing car in France.
Many say that he never recovered from his son’s death.
Around the same time, World War II was announced.
Fearing the Germans would invade France and steal his plane, Bugatti disassembled the 100P and hid the parts in various locations.
The manufacturer fell into poor health just after the war ended.
He passed away in 1947, taking any plans to revive the 100P to the grave with him.
A Bugatti enthusiast bought the plane, reconstructed it and donated it to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s museum where it sits today.
More recently a group of aviation enthusiasts and historians took on the task of recreating the plane.
After thousands of hours of work, the aircraft was ready to fly.
Devastatingly, it crashed on its third test flight, killing the pilot who had led the project.
His work on the 100P brought him immense pride and joy, and it is said that the retired vet died doing what he loved best.