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Bugatti was founded in Molsheimmarker, Francemarker as a manufacturer of high performance automobiles by Ettore Bugatti, an Italian man described as an eccentric genius.

The original company is legendary for producing some of the most exclusive cars in the world, as well as some of the fastest. The original Bugatti brand failed with the coming of World War II, like many high-end marques of the time. The death of Ettore's son Jean was also a contributory factor. The company struggled financially, and released one last model in the 1950s, before eventually being purchased for its airplane parts business in the 1960s. Today the name is owned by Volkswagen Group who have revived it as a builder of very limited production exclusive sports cars.

Under Ettore Bugatti

Founder Ettore Bugatti was born in Milanmarker, Italymarker, and the automobile company that bears his name was founded in 1909 in the town of Molsheimmarker located in the Alsacemarker, part of the German Empiremarker at the time, and after 1919, a region of Francemarker. The company was known both for the level of detail of its engineering in its automobiles, and for the artistic way in which the designs were executed, given the artistic nature of Ettore's family (his father, Carlo Bugatti (1856–1940), was an important Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry designer). The company also enjoyed great success in early Grand Prix motor racing, winning the first ever Monaco Grand Prix. The company's success culminated with driver Jean-Pierre Wimille winning the 24 hours of Le Mansmarker twice (in 1937 with Robert Benoist and 1939 with Pierre Veyron).


Bugatti's cars were as much works of art as they were mechanical creations. Engine blocks were hand scraped to ensure that the surfaces were so flat that gaskets were not required for sealing, many of the exposed surfaces of the engine compartment featured Guilloché (engine turned) finishes on them, and safety wires threaded through almost every fastener in intricately laced patterns. Rather than bolt the springs to the axles as most manufacturers did, Bugatti's axles were forged such that the spring passed though a carefully sized opening in the axle, a much more elegant solution requiring fewer parts. He famously described his arch competitor Bentley's cars as "the world's fastest lorries" for focusing on durability. According to Bugatti, "weight was the enemy".


Only a few examples of each of Ettore Bugatti's vehicles were ever produced, the most famous being the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car.

On 2 January 2009, it was revealed that a rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante had been found in the garage of a deceased surgeon in England. Only 17 of this model were made, by hand.

Throughout the production run of approximately 7,900 cars (of which about 2,000 still exist), each Bugatti model was designated with the prefix T for Type, which referred to the chassis and drive train.

Image:RL 1938 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic 34 2.jpg|1938 Type 57SC Atlantic from the Ralph Lauren collectionImage:1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix 34 rear.jpg|1933 Type 59 Grand Prix racer from the Ralph Lauren collection

Prototypes Racing Cars Road Cars

During the war Bugatti worked at Levallois on several new projects, including the Type 73 road car, Type 73C single seater racing car (5 built), and the Type 75. After World War II, a 375 cc supercharged car was canceled when Ettore died.

Racing success

Bugatti cars were extremely successful in racing, with many thousands of victories in just a few decades. The little Bugatti Type 10 swept the top four positions at its first race. The 1924 Bugatti Type 35 is probably the most successful racing car of all time, with over 2,000 wins. Bugattis swept to victory in the Targa Floriomarker for five years straight from 1925 through 1929. Louis Chiron held the most podiums in Bugatti cars, and the 21st century Bugatti company remembered him with a concept car named in his honour. But it was the final racing success at Le Mansmarker that is most remembered—Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron won the 1939 race with just one car and meagre resources.
Year Race Driver Car
1921 Voiturettes Grand Prix Ernest Friderich
1925 Targa Floriomarker Bartolomeo Costantini Type 35
1926 French Grand Prixmarker Jules Goux Type 39 A
1926 Italian Grand Prixmarker Louis Charavel
1926 Spanish Grand Prixmarker Bartolomeo Costantini
1926 Targa Floriomarker Bartolomeo Costantini Type 35 T
1927 Targa Floriomarker Emilio Materassi Type 35 C
1928 French Grand Prixmarker William Grover-Williams Type 35 C
1928 Italian Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1928 Spanish Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1928 Targa Floriomarker Albert Divo Type 35 B
1929 French Grand Prixmarker William Grover-Williams Type 35 B
1929 German Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1929 Spanish Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1929 Monaco Grand Prix William Grover-Williams
1929 Targa Floriomarker Albert Divo Type 35 C
1930 Belgian Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1930 Czechoslovakian Grand Prixmarker Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen and Hermann zu Leiningen
1930 French Grand Prixmarker Philippe Étancelin Type 35 C
1930 Monaco Grand Prix René Dreyfus
1931 Belgian Grand Prixmarker William Grover-Williams and Caberto Conelli
1931 Czechoslovakian Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1931 French Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi Type 51
1931 Monaco Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1932 Czechoslovakian Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1933 Czechoslovakian Grand Prixmarker Louis Chiron
1933 Monaco Grand Prix Achille Varzi
1934 Belgian Grand Prixmarker René Dreyfus
1936 French Grand Prixmarker Jean-Pierre Wimille and Raymond Sommer Type 57 G
1937 24 hours of Le Mansmarker Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist Type 57 G
1939 24 hours of Le Mansmarker Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron Type 57 C

Bugatti in Formula One

Year Chassis Engine(s) Tires Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Points WCC
Bugatti Type 251 Bugatti Straight-8 ARG MON 500 BEL FRA GBR GER ITA 0* -*
Maurice Trintignant Ret

* The World Constructors' Championship was not awarded before 1958.

The End

Ettore Bugatti also designed a successful motorised railcar, the Autorail, and an airplane, the Bugatti 100P, which never flew. His son, Jean Bugatti, was killed on 11 August 1939 at the age of 30, while testing a Type 57 tank-bodied race car near the Molsheimmarker factory. Subsequently the company's fortunes began to decline. World War II ruined the factory in Molsheim, and the company lost control of the property. During the war, Bugatti planned a new factory at Levallois in Parismarker and designed a series of new cars. Ettore Bugatti died on 21 August 1947.

The company attempted a comeback under Roland Bugatti in the mid-1950s with the mid-engined Type 251 race car. Designed with help from famed Alfa Romeo, Ferrarimarker, and Maseratimarker designer Gioacchino Colombo, the car failed to perform to expectations, and the company's attempts at automobile production were halted.

In the 1960s, Virgil Exner designed a Bugatti as part of his "Revival Cars" project. A show version of this car was actually built by Ghia using the last Bugatti Type 101 chassis, and was shown at the 1965 Turin Motor Show. Finance was not forthcoming, and Exner then turned his attention to a revival of Stutz.

Bugatti continued manufacturing airplane parts and was sold to Hispano-Suiza (another auto maker turned aircraft supplier) in 1963. Snecma took over in 1968, later acquiring Messier. The two were merged into Messier-Bugatti in 1977.

Bugatti brand used afterwards

Bugatti Automobili SpA

Italianmarker entrepreneur Romano Artioli acquired the famous Bugatti name in 1987, and established Bugatti Automobili SpA. The new company built a factory designed by the architect Giampaolo Benedini in Campogallianomarker, Italymarker, a town near Modenamarker, home to other performance-car manufacturers De Tomaso, Ferrarimarker, Pagani and Maseratimarker.

By 1989, the plans for the new Bugatti revival were presented by Paolo Stanzani and Marcello Gandini, famous designers of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach. The first completed car was labelled the Bugatti EB110 GT, advertised as the most technically advanced sports car ever produced.

From 1992 through 1994, famed racing car designer, Mauro Forghieri, was technical director.

On 27 August 1993, through his holding company, ACBN Holdings S.A. of Luxembourgmarker, Romano Artioli purchased the Lotus car company from General Motors. The acquisition brought together two of the greatest historical names in automotive racing, and plans were made for listing the company's shares on international stock exchanges. Bugatti also presented in 1993 the prototype of a large saloon called the EB112.

By the time the EB110 came to market, the North American and European economies were in recession, and operations ceased in September 1995. A model specific to the United Statesmarker market called the "Bugatti America" was in the preparatory stages when the company closed. Bugatti's liquidators sold Lotus to Proton of Malaysiamarker.

In 1997, German manufacturer Dauer Racing bought the EB110 license and remaining parts stock to Bugatti in order to produce five more EB110 SS units, although they were greatly refined by Dauer. The factory was later sold to a furniture making company, which also collapsed before they were able to move in. The factory still remains unoccupied to this day.

Perhaps the most famous Bugatti EB110 owner is racing driver Michael Schumacher, seven-time Formula One World Champion. Despite later racing for Ferrari, he still retained the EB110 he acquired while racing for the Benetton team. In 2003, Schumacher sold the car - repaired after a severe crash in 1994, the same year of purchase - to Modena Motorsport, a Ferrari service and race preparation garage in Germany.

Bugatti Automobiles SAS

See also the main article, Bugatti Automobiles SASmarker
Volkswagen Group purchased the rights to produce cars under the Bugatti marque in 1998. They commissioned ItalDesign to produce the Bugatti EB118 concept, a touring saloon , which featured a DIN rated motive power output of , and the first W-configuration 18-cylinder engine in any passenger vehicle, at the Paris Auto Show.

In 1999, the Bugatti EB 218 concept was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show; later that year the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA). At the Tokyo Motor Show, the EB 218 reappeared, and the Bugatti EB 16.4 Veyron was presented as the first incarnation of what was to be a production road car.

The Veyron 16.4

In 2000, Volkswagen AG founded Bugatti Automobiles SAS as a subsidiary of Volkswagen France, and introduced the EB 16/4 Veyron concept, a 16-cylinder quad-turbocharged car with DIN rated , in 2.5 seconds, and a top speed of , at the Parismarker, Genevamarker and Detroitmarker auto shows. Development continued throughout 2004, and the EB 16/4 Veyron was promoted to "advanced concept" status. In July 2005, Bugatti Automobiles SAS announced that the car would officially be called the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. It was said that the car - built in a brand new Bugatti factory in Dorlisheimmarker (located at ) - would be delivered to clients in October 2005. In fact, the Veyron finally entered production in late 2005, the first cars being delivered in early 2006. Maximum speed claims have been met in several high speed tests, where the car slightly exceeded its target, reaching . According to Car and Driver, the Veyron's fuel consumption at 253 mph was 3.0 mpg (78 L/100 km). At full throttle, its fuel tank would empty in just 12 minutes 46 seconds. After 15 minutes at a continuous 253 mph, the tires would melt.

Independent press tests have reported many failures (three out of five cars notionally available for testing in November 2005 were out of service), but the Veyron prototypes were put through the same grueling regimen as other Volkswagen Group models, with each pre-production car logging over 50,000 miles. This car comes in many different colour combinations, including red and black, blue and dark blue, grey and black, and so on.

The Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès is the latest limited edition version of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. It costs $2.3 million (not including tax), and has an interior designed and crafted by the French leather and silk specialist, Hermès. The Fbg in the name stands for Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the address of the headquarters for Hermès. The Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès has no mechanical alterations, and is still essentially the Bugatti Veyron 16.4; the only alterations are the calfskin composing the new interior.

The Bugatti Veyron was designed by the head of Volkswagen Groups Škoda Auto Design Department, Jozef Kaban.

The Bugatti Veyron Bleu Centenaire Edition
The Bleu Centenaire represents 100 years of history. It has the same 8.0 litre 16 cylinder quad-turbocharged engine as the 'standard' Veyron. The one and only special edition comes in Bugatti signature two-tone "sprintblue matte" and "sprintblue gloss" paint. This edition is priced at 1.35 million Euro, and was debuted at the 79th International Auto Show in Geneva Switzerland.

The Bugatti 16C Galibier
In September 2009, Bugatti introduced the 16C Galibier concept car, the first modern four-door Bugatti. The Galibier name is taken from the original designation for the four-door saloon model of the Type 57. As with all concept cars, the final version may differ from the initial preview, but it is expected to be powered the same 24 cylinder multi-fuel engine capable of speeds similar to (and with a pricetag in the range of) the Veyron. The W16 engine will use two superchargers, instead of the four turbochargers used on the Veyron.

See also


  1. Rare 1937 Bugatti supercar found in English garage, Associated Press, January 2, 2009
  2. Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886–1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1985)
  3. 400 and beyond

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