Wide Angle

The story of Bugatti Baby, a child-sized car linked to the childhood of King Hassan II

The child-sized replica of the Bugatti Type 35 racecar, or Bugatti Baby, has a shared story with the childhood of King Hassan II. The car originally designed by Ettore Bugatti for his son Roland, was offered a few years later to the five-year-old prince.

Bugatti Baby. / Ph. DR
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The passion King Hassan II had for luxury cars is no secret. Several historians have been interested, throughout the years, in the vehicles that the monarch owned. However, few people know that his passion for racecars started at very early age. King Hassan II was such a big fan of cars that he received a child-sized replica of the Bugatti Type 35 racecar, also known as Bugatti Baby.

The story of this luxury car started in 1924, at the Bugatti workshop between Dorlisheim and Molsheim in Alsace, France. Two years later, Ettore Bugatti, the founder of the brand, and his son Jean, designed the Bugatti Type 35. He then offered it to his second son Roland Bugatti on his fourth birthday.

The first Bugatti Baby car. / Ph. DRThe first Bugatti Baby car. / Ph. DR

The photo of Jean and his brother Roland driving the original and the child-sized version of the racecar got very famous at the time, as reported by weekly French magazine Challenges in March.

«The outcome was perfect; the proportions respected the design of the famous alloy wheel casting. Obviously, the mini Bugatti was jaw-dropping to the customers who were passing by the factory and who asked the boss to sell them the small version of the luxury car», the same source added.

The Bugatti Baby of then-Crown Prince Hassan

Nevertheless, Ettore Bugatti had bigger plans for his Bugatti Baby. He wanted to seduce high-ranked people to his Type 52 car. The car was offered to two princes, who became later powerful kings, including Prince Baudouin of Belgium and King Hassan II of Morocco.

«The young Prince – the future king of Morocco, Hassan II, was offered a copy of Bugatti 52 Baby, with his father when he visited the Bugatti factories», Rouillac reports. The latter recalled that the Belgian Crown Prince, Baudouin had «been offered a similar copy of the car». In a black and white photo taken during said visit, then-Crown Prince Hassan appears driving the Bugatti Baby.

Then Crown Prince Moulay Hassan riding the Bugatti Baby. / Ph. DRThen Crown Prince Moulay Hassan riding the Bugatti Baby. / Ph. DR

The luxury gift had a single 12-volt electric motor and can reach a top speed of 15 to 18 kilometers per hour. It had removable aluminum wheels and a frame made of pressed sheet formed of two longitudinal members assembled by sleepers.

Its front axle is attached to the chassis by the springs and the rear axle is fixed directly by bolts that pass through the bosses, L’Essentiel indicates. 

Challenges recalls that Belgian cartoonist Hergé was inspired by «the Bugatti Baby delivered to Moulay Hassan (Hassan II, King of Morocco)» when writing one of the episodes of his famous comic albums «The Adventures of Tintin».

A small car rising from the ashes

On its 110th anniversary, Bugatti decided in 2019 to create a «Baby II» by teaming up with Junior Classics, reports Le Figaro. «The vehicle will have several colors, including the famous and traditional 'French blue'. The eight spoke alloy wheels will be a replica of those of the Type 35», the same source added.

«It has two driving modes : a child mode of 1 kW which allows to reach the maximum speed of 20 km / h, and an adult mode of 4 kW, which allows peaks at 45 km / h», says the French news platform Turbo.

The revisited Bugatti Type 52, having notably marked the childhood of the deceased King, will come back. 

The Bugatti Baby was not then-Crown Prince Hassan's only favorite toy car. He can also be seen driving a small Eureka with gleaming pedals, similar to that of his father King Mohammed V posing in the background of a photo from the 30s, as reported by Francetvinfo.

The love for vehicles was never lost in the King of Morocco's heart throughout his reign, to the point that it inspired Gilbert Guzzo, owner of Caravaning-Nautisme-Marocain (Canam) to build for him, in the 1990s, the Menara, considered the first 100% Moroccan car.

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