Scale Model Electric Bugatti Type 37 by Richard Powell

Although not strictly a model engineering project, I have been in the process of making an approx half scale plywood, elctrically driven car for my Grandson. The car is based loosely on a Bugatti, originally a Type 35, but until I can get 3D printed wheel discs it is more akin to a Type 37 (thanks to Harold for the info). It has an electric motor, geared down and chain driven to one rear wheel, to give an approx top speed of 5mph. I have made provision for disc brakes on the rear wheels as a future project. There are working lights and horn and a spare wheel to fit. It has ackerman steering with a bevel geared mechanism to make the steering more realistic. A number of relays control forward and reverse, it has electronic speed control, and a master relay in the motor circuit to avoid the motor acting as a generator when manually pushing the car.

Swinging pedal power was originally going to be an option, then cycle pedal power using the pedals off the old bikes, but eventually electric motor propulsion was decided on, as I had an old golf cart motor and gearbox, although this eventually was found to be not reliable, and a new motor was sourced and a chained gear reduction used.

Nearly complete, basically just the trim around the cockpit the filler cap and hopefully an ammeter to fit. I modified the design so that I could “drive” it and try and iron out any problems that may show themselves. The motor at full power draws a max of 11amps, but the car is lively to say the least at that speed, and at normal speeds the current drawn is approx 5 amps, giving around 1 hour 20 mins with the batteries I have fitted. At full accelerator from a start the front wheels lift, so a gentle touch is required.


A few finishing touches including bonnet and spare wheel straps, filler cap, trim around the cockpit and an eBay sourced voltmeter/ammeter.

I found that there could be a bit too much free wheel on it so I fitted a bike brake disc and bike calliper to the driven wheel only. I also modified a bike brake lever mechanism, and shortened the bowden cable to fit. It only works as a foot brake would, no latch on but I don’t think that is needed. It all appears to have the desired effect.

Subsequent to my grandson trying the car I decided to incorporate a towbar with a simple mechanism to actuate the steering, to pull him around before using the electric motor. The steering wheel was modified to make it removeable, to ease him getting in and out of the car. I can appreciate why many child cars have oversize cockpits, but I still prefer the car in scale size, with a scale size cockpit. I will have to decide at a later date if that was the best decision, depending on how long it is before he gets too big for it.