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900bhp Bugatti sports plane revived

Published: 17 Feb 2014

This is the Veyron of aeroplanes. It's 900bhp, 500mph racing-thing, designed by Ettore Bugatti back in the Thirties, and it's about to fly for the very first time.

See, the eponymous Bugatti founder penned the 100P to compete in then-famous plane race, the Deutsch de la Merthe Cup (a sort of aeronautical speedway race around Paris), planning to fit it with two 4.9-litre, straight-eight engines with 450 horsepower each. Good, Ettore thought, for 500mph.

Then, in June 1940, World War Two got in the way and Ettore stopped work on the 100P, hiding it from the German military. Though it survived the war, it wasn't fit for flight and never reached the sky.

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Until 2009, when Californians John Lawson and Simon Birney decided to build an exact replica, incorporating elements of the five patents that Bugatti was originally awarded for the 100P. And now the plane is ready for its inaugural voyage, planned for March 25 in Oxnard, California.

Even if you're not a plane nerd you'll notice that it looks properly futuristic for, well, anything from the gramophone age. There's the two counter-rotating props mounted in tandem, V-shaped tail, forward-pitched wings and it has a zero-drag cooling system. Only James May can explain what this actually means, but very impressive nonetheless.

Want to see VeyronPlane up close? Go to the Art of Bugatti exhibition at the Mullin Automotive Museum, California, opening March this year.

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