In our modern parlance, the name “Bugatti” might serve perfectly well as a stand-in for “rich” or “decadent.” But that wasn’t always the case.
This exquisite instalment of the Petrolicious series on YouTube takes us to France, and into the workspace of an historic shop specializing in all things Bugatti: Garage Novo. The shop’s founder, Henri Novo, started his love affair with the Bugatti in the late 1920s, after hearing one drive through the streets of Paris. He was fourteen.
Ever since, Garage Novo has been kept in the family, passed down from father to son in much the same way as the Novo passion for the Bugatti marque. But as we’ve said, Bugattis weren’t always such valuable things. Through speaking with Henri’s son Jean in the video below, we learn that the Germans destroyed hundreds of classic Bugatti cars for their metal content throughout World War II, during Germany’s occupation of France. Even after the war was over, none of the old cars had any value, and were largely either neglected, or left to the junkyard.
It wouldn’t be until the 1960s that Bugatti’s cars would begin to have any real value, by which point the Novo family was already well into the marque.
While the Bugatti name today to conveys incalculable wealth, prestige, and a nearly religious significance, it’s quite easy to forget that like all cars, they are mechanical things. They burn gas, require oil changes, have chains and belts and gears, and as such, there necessarily exist those with the proper expertise – and humility – to service them.
The Novo family is among those people.