Cars were a different sort of thing before WWII, and luxury cars in particular were very different than they are today. Making a car like a Bugatti was the work of an artisan, someone who had devoted his life to the craft. It is therefore only fitting to have such a car repaired by someone who takes a similar approach to working on them, and the father and son team at Garage Novo does indeed take such an approach. Jean Novo first fell in love with Bugattis at a very young age, and his father bought him one, back when the cars were hardly worth anything at all.

Jean’s first Bugatti was a complete wreck, and restoring it was a crash course on the idiosyncrasies of the brand. He has since learned the skill and the respect required to fix prewar Bugattis, and has put an estimated 200,000 kilometers (125,000 miles) on his personal car. Since plans for so many of the parts only recently became available, Jean used to reverse engineer, design and build replacement parts for the cars himself. It’s an amazing labor of love, but prewar Bugattis are very special cars, and worth the extra work.

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Garage Novo was first opened by Jean’s Father, Henri Novo, and now it belongs to Jean and his son Fred. Jean had originally worked designing airplanes, but was convinced by his father to come work at the shop at around the time Bugattis started picking up in value again. The shop is in France, but has earned enough of a reputation that it now services cars from all over Europe, about 80 percent of which are Bugattis.

The shop is very small, with only one non-family member working there, a Porsche enthusiast named Willfrid. The need to design parts has been reduced by access to the Bugatti Club’s schematics, but the parts are still machined right there in the shop, something which Fred specializes in. The shop is really an incredible thing to see.

Jacob Joseph
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