Bucciali TAV 12 photo

1932 Bucciali TAV 12

Albert ‘Buc' Bucciali was born in France in 1889, and was the second son of Joseph Bucciali, a blind composer. Joseph instructed his young sons, Angelo and Albert, on how to play the piano and to build and repair them. At around age 13, Albert witnessed his first race which fostered inspiration for pursuing a career in the evolving automotive industry. When it was time to attend college, he went to Boulogne University to study philosophy.

When Albert had graduated from college, he purchased his first automobile. By this time, his interests had changed and he became fascinated with airplanes. Determined to build one on his own, he began studying as many books as possible and researching existing plane design and construction. What had seemed like an impossible feat was soon achieved, and Albert took his first flight in his own airplane. Though his creation was a success, he felt there was more to learn, so he enrolled in flight school. The training taught him how to hone his flight skills and to execute difficult maneuvers. His skill made him in high demand at air shows. He later joined the 26th squadron of the French Airforce and took part in defending his country.

In 1919 he left the air force; he had served bravely and flew on some very difficult missions. His time spent flying at air shows and in the air force had accumulated a small fortune, which he used to satisfy his other passions of starting a new business. He hired Joseph Ksandr, a Czech mechanic he had met during his time in the air force. The company began modifying various automobiles for customers. Before long, work began on the first 'Buc' automobile. Albert and Angelo promoted the family name and the business by entering their creations in many sporting events. Angelo served as the riding mechanic. After the business became well established, Angelo was placed in charge of marketing and sales.

In 1922, the first 'Buc' automobile had been created and it was shown at the Paris Auto Show. The vehicle was a technological marvel, powered by a supercharged two-stroke four-cylinder engine in 'vee' configuration. The response to the vehicle was positive and several orders were secured. Though production took a long time to complete as designs were continually changed and improved, many of the customers accommodated the lag.

After only a few conventional cars had been created, the brothers examined the direction of the company and were forced to make a tough decision. Albert's passion and talents were with engineering and the business was headed in the conventional car creation business. After much thought, the decision was made to refocus the company as an engineering firm. The company named was changed to 'Bucciali Freres'.

Albert began working on a front-wheel drive configuration. At the time, all vehicles were rear wheel drive. Many believed that having the front wheels be responsible for turning, carrying the bulk of the weight, providing stopping power and for driving were too much. With the rear wheel drive systems, the weight could be dispersed throughout the body to take advantage of weight distributed. Having a front wheel drive configuration meant that the normal mechanical configuration required rearrangement. On occasion, the four-cylinder engine was installed backwards in the chassis. The result of Albert's work was called the Bucciali TAV, for Traction Avant. It was shown at the 1926 Paris Motorshow where it gained much attention due to its mechanical ingenuity and for its paint scheme. Since Albert's wife, who had entered the marriage with a great deal of wealth, had funded most of this endeavor, she had the car painted in purple with a polished aluminum hood.

After the success of the TAV1, Albert improved upon the design by incorporating two double spheres, which he patented in 1927. The front-wheel drive TAV 2 was introduced in 1928 and shown at various shows. Though it was impressive and proved the concept, no orders were placed.

The brothers returned to the Paris Motorshow in 1929 with the TAV 2 and an updated version named the TAV 3. The TAV 3 was powered by an eight-cylinder Continental engine. Again, much interest in the design was shown. The brothers embarked on a tour of the United States where they showcased the vehicles potential and the benefits of a front-wheel design. The cars proved that they had advantage in snowy conditions where the extra weight of the engine helped provided additional traction for the driving wheels. Finally, an agreement was signed with Peerless which allowed them to use the design. The agreement stated that the brothers could distribute the design in Europe.

The brothers retuned back to Europe and Albert continued his work on improving the automobile. He created designs for a V16 engine which was later shown at the 1930 Paris Motorshow. They did find a customer at the show, Georges Roure, who was interested in purchasing a vehicle with the sixteen cylinder engine. After he was informed that production would take a considerable amount of time, possibly over a year, he switched his order to an eight-cylinder unit. Work began on the vehicle and it was officially dubbed the TAV 8-32. During construction, Roure changed his mind and requested that a Voisin twelve-cylinder engine be fitted in the engine bay. The car was completed in late November of 1931 and Albert and Roure drove it on a 1000 km journey to Nice where they entered it in a concours d'elegance. During the trip, the builder and owner were able to enjoy the mechanical ingenuity. The car had been fitted with a body by Guillet, which had not impressed either the buyer or the builder. At the concurs d'elegance, the vehicle was awarded the Grand Prix d'Honneur.

Roure would later have the bodywork replaced by Saoutchick. The design named 'Fleche d'Or', meaning Golden Arrow, was selected. By April of 1932 the work had been completed and Roure officially took possession of the Bucciali TAV. The flying storks of the original bodywork were carried over into the Saoutchik design.

During the very early 1930s, Albert's wife Emily had grown reluctant to fund any further endeavors. She had spent a large fortune and had seen little return to her investment. The economic difficulties of the 1930s complicated things even further. In the United States, Peerless terminated their agreement with Bucciali as they were acquired by the Carling brand and began full-scale beer production. The brothers worked hard to find financial backing, but their attempts were unsuccessful. At the close of 1932, the brothers were forced to cease production. This meant only one drivable and completed Bucciali had ever been created. Roure had been their only customer to purchase a complete automobile.

Roure kept the car for a short time before selling it to a Paris banker named Count de Rivaud. He had been very satisfied with the Saoutchik bodywork; when it was time to purchase another vehicle, he had the bodywork fitted to the new vehicle. The new vehicle, a Bugatti Type 46, did not house the bodywork as properly as did the Bucciali. The front-wheel design of the Bucciali had allowed the vehicle to sit very low to the ground.

In 1970s, many of the TAV 8-32 components, including the drive train, Voisin engine, and coachwork, were brought to the United States. The original chassis drawings were still intact and aided in the reconstruction. The work took many years to complete. In 1997, the project had finished and it was offered for sale at the Christies Auction held in Pebble Beach, CA. Sadly, the car was left unsold. It was later purchased by a Swiss collector. It was shown at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, but not as a vehicle to be judged. A few months later, it was shown at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

by Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2010
Vehicle Profiles
1932 Bucciali TAV 12 vehicle information

'Fleche d'Or' Berline
Coachwork: Saoutchik

Starring at the 1932 Paris Auto Show, the front-wheel drive, twelve-cylinder, sleeve-valve engined Bucciali stunned show-goers. Cloacked in one-off coachwork by Saoutchik, the car received acclaim as the most advanced and modern French automobile.....[continue reading]

'Fleche d'Or' Berline by Saoutchik

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1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)
1932Chevrolet (313,404)Ford (210,824)Plymouth (186,106)
1931Chevrolet (619,554)Ford (615,455)Buick (138,965)
1930Ford (1,140,710)Chevrolet (640,980)Buick (181,743)
1929Ford (1,507,132)Chevrolet (1,328,605)Buick (196,104)
1928Chevrolet (1,193,212)Ford (607,592)Willys Knight (231,360)
1927Chevrolet (1,001,820)Ford (367,213)Buick (255,160)

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