Our final monthly meeting for the year was very well attended and the Golf Club made a special effort with the meal and by decorating the tables with a festive theme. The driveway outside the Club House is an area where members can display their sports and classic vehicles and it was nice to see a range of makes and models taking up that opportunity this month.
Our display car inside the dining room, had only arrived from the USA a couple of days prior to the meeting, but its new owner, Mark McKibbin, was happy to bring it along and tell us something of its history. Designed by Ettore Bugatti and built in 1913, this Peugeot Bebe had been in the same family since it was delivered new to its rather affluent owner’s winter residence in New York City in June of 1913. Later that year it was driven to the family’s summer house in Lenox Massachusetts (now a 114 room Hotel), where it served three generations of that family. Mark recently acquired the car at an auction and had it shipped to Melbourne and then carried home on the back of a truck. The little Peugeot was driven into the dining room, albeit under a rather heavy smoke screen, and amazed those present with its diminutive size. Around 3000 Peugeot Bebes were made up until 1916 when WW1 intervened. The engine is a 900cc in-line, 4-cylinder driving through a 3-speed gearbox to the rear axle. The wheels are quite small and mechanical brakes operate only on the rear wheels. The interior is dominated by a very large steering wheel on the right hand side, an upright screen and a bench seat that looks like a cosy fit for two adults. The little car features classic Bugatti styling cues that can be seen in the design of his later models manufactured after the war under the Bugatti insignia.
Mark has yet to fully inspect his new acquisition, nor really test it out on the road, but I’m sure that over the next few months he’ll enjoy coming to grips with this very special icon of motoring history that is beginning a new Australian chapter of its life 102 years after arriving in New York City.
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