Nowadays, if someone establishes a company and doesn’t generate sales and profits within a certain period of time, his business is quickly considered a hobby by the tax office. However, precisely this hobby has often led to interesting results in the past. A fitting example is the company of the brothers Angelo and Paul-Albert Bucciali. They were born in 1889 and 1891 as sons of the blind composer and organist Joseph Bucciali. While Angelo originally also pursued a musical career, Paul-Albert acquired his own automobile at the age of 21. He refined it and added the lettering “Buc” to the radiator grille. His fortune came from a job as paid aerobatic pilot before World War 1. During the war he was in the flying squadron “Groupe de Cignones” (Stork Group). He later adopted the squadron’s logo, a flying stork, for his company.
Sports car as a mere eye-catcher
In the early 1920s, Paul-Albert and his brother worked on their first own automobile. When this was almost finished, they founded the “Société Bucciali Frères” based in Courbevoie near Paris. In the years that followed, they first produced various small sports cars and touring cars. From 1927, the brothers finally concentrated on sensational dream cars with great design and innovative technology. However, the cars were now exclusively one-offs, which were extremely expensive to produce. Cost-covering production was therefore impossible. Instead, the Bucciali family invested its own fortune in these cars. In addition, they sold technology licenses to other manufacturers, for example for the front-wheel drive. Today, experts assume that the sports cars from the period between 1927 and 1932, which were also front-wheel drive, were mainly intended as eye-catchers for potential business partners.
Cooperation for two years
In 1930, the strange business model actually seemed to work. After Bucciali had exhibited unique cars at various car shows, there was a serious interested party for cooperation. The Peerless Motor Car Corporation from Cleveland/Ohio not only wanted to offer Bucciali vehicles in the USA, but also wanted to use the patents for front-wheel drive. However, the partnership fell through before the contracts were signed, as Peerless dropped out of the automobile business due to the Great Depression and went into brewing beer instead. Emile Guillet from France then joined Bucciali as an investor in the fall of 1930. The latter left the partnership in a dispute in 1932, which ultimately led to the discontinuation of production. By then, a total of probably 25 to 35 vehicles had been built at most. Paul-Albert Bucciali continued to develop cars and car parts, although some of them never got beyond the status of studies on the drawing board.
Bucciali TAV 30 at Bonhams
Beginning in 1926, Bucciali introduced a new type of car each October at the Paris Motor Show. Some of these were non-driveable chassis and some were completely new models, all marked as TAV for Traction AVant (front wheel drive). According to various sources, the brothers themselves were responsible for the design of the bodies. These were often coupés in faux cabriolet style, i.e. with fabric on the tin roof. However, the production was carried out by external coachbuilders such as Saoutchik. An example of this is the TAV 30, which appeared at various trade fairs in 1930 and 1931. This type was powered by a 5.2-liter eight-cylinder engine from Lycoming, a Cord Group company in the USA. Reportedly, three to four examples were made, two of which are still known today. One is being auctioned by Bonhams as part of Monterey Car Week.