Bugatti Type 18 Sports Two-Seater 'Black Bess'
The famous French aviator and sportsman Roland Garros (1888-1918) was a close friend of Ettore Bugatti and was the first owner of this Bugatti Type 18 in 1913.
That same year Garros became the first pilot to make a non-stop flight across the Mediterranean Sea in a Morane-Saulnier monoplane. When the First World War broke out in 1914 he became a fighter pilot. He was killed in action in 1918.
In 1922 his Bugatti was sold to the British female racing driver Ivy Cummings who named the car ‘Black Bess’, after highwayman Dick Turpin’s legendary black steed.
This Bugatti is the fourth in a series of circa seven Type 18s.
With its powerful 5.0-litre, 100 hp engine it could reach a top speed of 150 km/h. The coachwork is by Henri Labourdette, whose Panhard & Levassor ‘Skiff’ is also on display in the museum. The bucket seats, which still have the original 1913 leather upholstery, were placed at an angle behind each other, so that the driver and the passenger would not get in each other’s way.
In 1927 the stadium where the French Open is held, was named after WW1 hero Roland Garros.