In the 1920s the Bugatti motor car dominated the race tracks of Australia. Building on the successes of the Brescia in earlier days, most notably on the difficult and dangerous Maroubra banked track in Sydney, Grand Prix Bugattis were to win the Australian Grand Prix in 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1932.
As the cars got older there developed something of a community spirit between their owners, possibly arising from the idiosyncrasies of their cars. This spirit continued into the postwar years; by then the main influence was the continued use of aging Bugattis in vintage racing, an activity which started in Victoria during the early 1950s.
In Victoria Bugatti activities centred on Peter Menere’s workshop in Brighton, a Melbourne bayside suburb, where Peter Dale’s and ‘Puss’ Catlin’s Type 51A’s and the Leech brother’s 37 and 37A was fettled for racing. In Sydney the Bugatti community were less oriented towards racing; the focus for New South Wales Bugattistes being Eric Pengilley’s workshop in Cammeray, an inner Sydney suburb, which regularly hosted gatherings of the clan, including long-term Bugatti drivers, the Newton Brothers and Jim Perry.
A new generation of Bugatti owners appeared during the 1950s and 1960s and their perception was different from those who had grown up with the cars when new; they were the vintage car enthusiasts who were more attuned to using the cars in events arranged by car clubs. One of the new breed was a Type 57 owner, Cameron Macmillan, who first considered forming ‘a loose association of Australian owners’ in the early 60s. He contacted the Bugatti Owners Club in England requesting details of that Club’s members living in Australia and received a short list of between 12 and 15 names. A letter was sent to those on the list and Cameron came into contact with Bob King who had a list of Victorian owners. From this beginning a combined list was created, complemented by information on Bugattis in other states received from Cyril Poole in WA, Bob Burnett-Read in SA, Geoff Hine in Tasmania and ‘PG’ Woodhouse in Queensland.