Isadora Duncan - killed by a Bugatti?

Discussion in 'Bugatti' started by James_Woods, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. I have started the new week 1 FerrariChat Update poll, please vote... http://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/threads/ferrarichat-com-update-week-1-poll.560487/
  1. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    I was asked on another non-automotive forum (where I am kind of the car guy) what kind of car that Isadora Duncan was killed in.

    The story goes that she had a long flowing scarf and it got caught in the spokes of one rear wheel and either broke her neck or strangled her.

    I replied that I thought it was a Bugatti 35 - but then realized that I had no proof as soon as I had posted it.

    Does anybody know?

    And, (if it is not too morbid) - does the car still exist, and do we know where it is?
     
  2. 4REphotographer

    4REphotographer F1 Veteran

    Oct 22, 2006
    6,070
    Centreville, VA
    Full Name:
    Chris
    Sort of....according to Wikipedia:

    On the night of September 14, 1927, Duncan was a passenger in the Amilcar[9] automobile of a handsome French-Italian mechanic Benoît Falchetto, whom she had nicknamed "Buggatti" (sic).
     
  3. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    Fascinating - then if it was after midnight, she died on the birthday of Ettore Bugatti himself.

    And, her boyfriend was nicknamed "Buggatti".

    This explains the urban legend that it was a Bugatti, I guess.
     
  4. TheMayor

    TheMayor Five Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Feb 11, 2008
    52,535
    Vegas baby
    When driving in a Bugatti, no capes either! :)

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R2aW03pwL0[/ame]
     
  5. beachmk4

    beachmk4 Formula Junior

    Mar 2, 2012
    260
    Florida

    There are some that are convinced the car was an Amilcar CGSs. A very French and similar car to a Bugatti but the likelihood is that this is what the car was. The two cars look very similar and competed against each other in period. I own one but can't for the life of me figure out how to post a photo to this site.
     
  6. Tired of seeing this ad? Upgrade now
  7. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,265
    Calgary, Canada
    when you "post reply", then look below at "additional options", under that click "manage attachments".....a window will open, and you can attach pictures from your computer, once you click "upload" wait until the file shows in the window as loaded, then click "close window" ...that should do it :)
     
  8. beachmk4

    beachmk4 Formula Junior

    Mar 2, 2012
    260
    Florida
    #8 beachmk4, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    O.K. let's give it a try.

    A 1927 Amilcar CGSs. I was invited to Amelia this year, here's a look.
    DSC02166.jpg
    DSC02169.jpg
     
  9. beachmk4

    beachmk4 Formula Junior

    Mar 2, 2012
    260
    Florida
    #9 beachmk4, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Hooray! It worked. Now a shot with my celebrity judge, Bob Varsha at Amelia in March. Oh, I'm the little, fat guy (as if you didn't know!)
    DSCN0003.jpg
     
  10. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,265
    Calgary, Canada
    very nice car, and something not seen often, kudos! :)
     
  11. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    Thank you very much!

    Yes, in general shape (except for the grille) it DOES look a lot like a type 35.
     
  12. Miltonian

    Miltonian F1 Veteran

    Dec 11, 2002
    5,896
    Milton, Wash.
    Full Name:
    Jeff B.
    #12 Miltonian, Apr 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Here is an image from the "Isadora" motion picture (1968) with Vanessa Redgrave in the title role.

    Seems like there must have been an official inquest into her death, and if there was a record of this inquest, it should state specifically what kind of a car was involved.
    isadora-1.jpg
     
  13. Tired of seeing this ad? Upgrade now
  14. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    Maybe that is what got me stuck on the idea that it was a Bugatti...
     
  15. beachmk4

    beachmk4 Formula Junior

    Mar 2, 2012
    260
    Florida
    Believe it or not, the official inquest didn't even make mention of the DRIVER's name!!! They saw the obvious and that was that! Things were a lot different then I guess.

    Think what would happen today if you showed up with a dead movie star (Angelia Jolie for instance) in your car. What do you think would happen??? The book deal alone would be astronomical!
     
  16. camchain

    camchain Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 12, 2004
    529
    Denver
    Full Name:
    Ron Hetherington
    Fabulous car. Thanks!
     
  17. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,265
    Calgary, Canada
    #16 JeremyJon, Apr 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    here's the content of this link, off the official Bugatti website....just to muddy the waters :D

    taenzerin01.jpg
     
  18. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    Well, well. Very interesting, Garnet.
     
  19. FazzerPorscheman

    FazzerPorscheman F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,179
    Piz Gloria
    Full Name:
    EnzoFerdinand
    That is one Freak Accident. :(
     
  20. WILLIAM H

    WILLIAM H Three Time F1 World Champ
    BANNED

    Nov 1, 2003
    34,894
    Victory Circle
    Full Name:
    HUBBSTER
    I heard it was an Aston
     
  21. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    You just ruined this thread, Mr. SmartyPants.
     
  22. dmj

    dmj Formula Junior

    Feb 11, 2012
    285
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Full Name:
    Dino Milic-Jakovlic
    The fact is that no one knows for sure whether it was a Bugatti or an Amilcar. There were long discussions about that topic on several places but as there are no official records or pics it is still undefined. The longest and most detailed research I ever read about it came to conclusion that it is more probable that it was an Amilcar, however, and I'm into this theory. One of the main reasons is that Amilcar and Bugatti had different seat arrangements, passenger seat in Amilcar was further back than driver seat, actually preventing driver from realizing in time that something strange happens.
     
  23. Crawler

    Crawler F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 2, 2006
    4,921
    If her neck was snapped by a silk scarf, I doubt that even a driver with lightning-fast reflexes (and even modern-day brakes, let alone 1920s-variety) could have done anything "in time", regardless of the relative positions of the seats. It would have happened almost in the blink of an eye.
     
  24. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    Agreed. Also, the legend says that the scarf was caught in the "spokes" of the wheel - which I took to be indicative of the 8-spoke Bugatti "mags".

    I guess I am a little over 50% that it was a Bugatti, as the driver seems to authentically be a Bugatti test driver.
     
  25. dmj

    dmj Formula Junior

    Feb 11, 2012
    285
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Full Name:
    Dino Milic-Jakovlic
    An old discussion about this case, with a lot of theories and details:

    http://forums.autosport.com/index.php?showtopic=9925

    Unfortunately, quite old so links mentioned with further readings are mostly dead ones. But IMHO it is much more believable that it was an Amilcar. Although none of "definitive answers" mentioned in discussion was never really exposed... :)
     
  26. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    Well, I have been all over the map on this one. A lady on another forum asked me the question (because I am sort of the car authority there) - and I immediately said Bug T35.

    Then, I thought about it a moment - and posted this thread. I became convinced that it was the Amilcar (I had never seen a picture of one, and it does sort of resemble a T35...), so I posted a correction - it was an Amilcar.

    Then, somebody convinced me that it probably was a Bugatti - so I had to reverse myself over there on the subject again.

    I am too proud to now go back and say it was an Amilcar after all. Anyway - the legend seems to say Bugatti by now, and like you say - cannot really be proven at this point in time.
     
  27. WilyB

    WilyB Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Feb 23, 2007
    1,280
    PDX
    Notice of her death,New York Times.

    Copyright © New York Times, Sep 15, 1927
     
  28. tritone

    tritone F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 8, 2003
    3,687
    On the Rock
    Full Name:
    James
    Quote:
    ............. an open rented car...........before the chauffeur halted...........

    Copyright © New York Times, Sep 15, 1927



    Still seems to be an open question; no suggestion of car type or boyfriend.......
    Typical media sloth even in 1927?
     
  29. Far Out

    Far Out F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 18, 2007
    9,717
    Stuttgart, Germany
    Full Name:
    Florian
    Her nack snapped, she was killed instantly ... and then cried while being dragged over the street?

    A horrible death, anyway :(
     
  30. dbw

    dbw Formula Junior

    Apr 3, 2005
    890
    palo alto ca
    Full Name:
    dave
    here's a late comment....as a ex-owner of both a t37 bugatti and a cgss amilcar, i can assure you they do look a bit the same..both have open bodywork and knock-off wire wheels [the 37 would not have had paddle spoke wheels] so each have an eared knockoff center cap. the most reasonable theory is that it was an amilcar for no better reason than there were more amilcars made [and most likely actually running and driveable at the time]..the amilcar was even then known as "the poor mans bugatti" and i'm sure most average citizens would err on the side of thinking they saw a bug... kind of like " the dog was struck by a loud, fast, red low car with big round tail lights..i think it was a ferrari."..actually it most likely was a newer corvette.
     
  31. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    It is indeed rather strange that this seems to be lost to history.
     
  32. WilyB

    WilyB Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Feb 23, 2007
    1,280
    PDX
    This is what I found, posted by J.J.Horst [ Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:42 am ] here: http://www.bugattibuilder.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5329&start=0&view=print

    It is very detailled and fits with everything else I read, including the nickname of the driver. It also explains the confusion between the Amilcar and the Bugatti.

     
  33. dmj

    dmj Formula Junior

    Feb 11, 2012
    285
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Full Name:
    Dino Milic-Jakovlic
    Accuracy of details might be doubtful, I'm afraid, just like at all the other sources. Maserati built its first car just a year ago and I sincerely doubt that any customer might have one in autumn 1927. in Nice already...
     
  34. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    I do not understand the Maserati reference, but thanks for bringing this rather romantic thread back up to the surface.
     
  35. JazzyO

    JazzyO F1 World Champ

    Jan 14, 2007
    11,849
    The Netherlands
    Full Name:
    Onno
    You don't know much about Maserati. In fact, every single thing you say is incorrect. The company was founded by the Maserati brothers in 1914, and then later sold to Orsi who made it into a success as a roadcar manufacturer. It was very succesful in particularly voiturrette racing in the 1920's. A Maserati won the Targa Florio in 1926. Maserati has produced very significant racing cars in the 1920's, '30s, '40s and '50s, with decline for race success setting in in the early 1960's.

    So perhaps, before attacking others on their story, perhaps you should do some research on your own.


    Onno

    P.S. Don't take my word for it, but take Alain de Cadenet's - a former LeMans podium finisher.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqFy8QtyJIg[/ame]
     
  36. dmj

    dmj Formula Junior

    Feb 11, 2012
    285
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Full Name:
    Dino Milic-Jakovlic
    Please don't accuse people if you are the one don't know the facts. Maserati brothers opened their garage in 1914. but first car bearing their name was produced only in 1926.

    Isadora Duncan's death was in September 1927. Up to the end of 1927. only seven Maserati cars have been built, chassis 11 to 18 (17 probably skipped as that number is considered unlucky in Italy). Six of them were in Italy, one in Spain. Nice isn't far away from Italy, of course but probability of having a Maserati serviced in local garage in France at that time seems really low. Also note that all Maseratis at that point were strictly race cars and it even lessens the possibility of one being serviced at non-specialized garage in a country where no vehicle of such type wasn't even imported yet.

    This particular article cited by Mr. Horst fully matches my own theories about how the death happened. But, at least without naming the sources for those claims (and site he posted it from doesn't exist anymore so it can not be checked) this has also to remain just one of the theories. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Dino
     
  37. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,725
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    I still do not understand how we somehow got sidetracked onto Maserati.

    I have become convinced that it was most probably an Amilcar, but the romantic tradition insisted on the Bugatti.
     

Share This Page