Ettore Bugatti paid a high price for his idealistic and perfectionist personality. His vehicles, pure works of art, would often translate into huge monetary losses. Such was the case of the Royale which, despite its excellence, revealed itself to be a comercial flop and forced his creator to come up with a solution to his imminent bankruptcy. Thus, his practical side created a bold locomotive, propelled by Royale's powerful engines. He named it the wagon rapide. And it was, in fact, fast.
The WR had all the cutting-edge technology, design and charm that was charcteristic of the brand and was the predecessor of today's fast, suburban trains. The first design in circulation, introduced on May, 1933, reached a maximum speed of 172 Km per hour and a 116 km per hour cruising speed, which was remarkable, at the time. In its interior, it lodged no less than four 8 cylinder in line of 12750 Cc, that gave it 800 Hp and an even more impressive energy consumption.
Its aerodinamic lines were unlike anything at the time, especially the piloting post in superior part of the vehicle, reminiscent of a cabin of a plane. Howevever, this positioning had a rather weak visibility which, together with other 'little details' (that included its high fuel intake, its brake's fast erosion and other unwanted mechanical problems), conditioned the train's success. These problems, together, stopped the WR from becoming a commercial success and kept the company in dire financial conditions.
Nonetheless, Bugatti was able to see his vehicles working until 1958 in regular routes at the French railroad. In fact, the French State was one of Bugatti's most important costumers, ordering various of his vehicles and, even, transforming one of them into a presidential carriage. As with every Bugatti, the WR has become a museum piece.