The Garros/Black Bess Bugatti crosses the Channel to a new life and legend.
By Gijsbert-Paul Berk
In its 100-year history, the Rolland Garros Bugatti had a number of significant owners, who together have accumulated an impressive amount of victories, often against competitors in more modern cars.
After the death of Roland Garros in 1918, the Bugatti became the property of Louis Coatalen, then Chief Engineer of the Sunbeam Motor Company Ltd. in Wolverhampton. During World War I he had designed the Sunbeam aircraft engines. In 1919 he was involved in the merger of Sunbeam with Talbot and Darracq to form STD Motors.
As Coatalen was born in Concarneau (Brittany) he spoke fluent French and was often in Paris. As a driver and an engineer he was greatly interested in fast and sporting cars. Sometime later –between 1919 and 1921- the Bugatti was bought by Sidney Cummings, a car dealer at Fulham Road, for his daughter Ivy.