Touted as “the tank” by media, the Bugatti Type 32 lacked the marque’s mainstay aesthetic appeal—ironic considering it pioneered the role of aerodynamic design in racecar development. Built in 1923, the model boasted an 80 hp, 4-cylinder straight-8 engine paired with a 3-speed transmission. The power train was housed within a body bearing a cross section in the shape of a wing.
Capable of reaching about 115 mph, the unique competitor was entered in only one event, the 1923 French Grand Prix. But while the early concepts of airflow efficiency were recognized, application proved problematic as the car generated more uplift than downforce, and its short wheelbase added to the instability. Despite these drawbacks, the Type 32 averaged almost 71 mph for the almost 500-mile race and placed third overall. Only five examples ever existed.