Bugatti was founded in Molsheim, France, 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 into the 1960s eventually being purchased for its airplane parts business. Today the name is owned by Volkswagen AG who have revived it as a builder of very limited production sports cars.
Under Ettore Bugatti
Type 35C (1926), painted in the blue racing colour of France.
Founder Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy, and the automobile company that bears his name was founded in Molsheim a town in the Alsace region of France. The company was known for both the level of detail of its engineering in its automobiles, as well 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 Mans twice (in 1937 with Robert Benoist and 1939 with Pierre Veyron).
Bugatti's doors 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, to engine turned finishes on many of the exposed surfaces of the engine compartment, 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 regarded his arch competitor Bentley's cars as "the world's fastest trucks" for focusing on durability. According to Bugatti, weight was the enemy. Bugatti’s inspiring creations attracted many people from other fields of interest, like Arlen Ness who created a motorcycle, called “Smooth-Ness”, with the Bugatti style. He was inspired by the smoothness of a bronze casting of a Bugatti automobile.
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.
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.
1938 Type 57SC Atlantic from the Ralph Lauren collection]]
1933 Type 59 Grand Prix racer from the Ralph Lauren collection
Jean Bugatti and his 1932 "Royale"
Prototypes Racing Cars Road Cars
1900–1901 Type 2
1903 Type 5
1908 Type 10
1925 Type 36
1929 Type 40
1929 Type 41
1929–1930 Type 45/47
Type 56 (electric car)
1939 Type 64 (coupe)
1943/1947 Type 73C
1910–1914 Type 13/Type 15/17/22
1922–1926 Type 29
1923 Type 32 "Tank"
1924–1930 Type 35/35A/35B/35T/35C/37/39
1927–1930 Type 52 (electric racer for children)
1936–1939 Type 57G "Tank"
1937–1939 Type 50B
1931–1936 Type 53
1931–1936 Type 51/51A/54GP/59
1955–1956 Type 251
1910 Bugatti Type 13
1912–1914 Type 18 "Garros"
1913–1914 Type 23/Brescia Tourer (roadster)
1922–1934 Type 30/38/40/43/44/49 (touring car)
1927–1933 Type 41 "Royale" (limousine)
1929–1939 Type 46/50/50T (touring car)
1932–1935 Type 55 (roadster)
1934–1940 Type 57/57S/Type 57SC (touring car)
1951–1956 Type 101 (coupe)
1957–1962 Type 252 (2-seater sports convertible)
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.
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 Florio 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 Mans 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 Florio Bartolomeo Costantini Type 35
1926 French Grand Prix Jules Goux Type 39 A
1926 Italian Grand Prix Louis Charavel
1926 Spanish Grand Prix Bartolomeo Costantini
1926 Targa Florio Bartolomeo Costantini Type 35 T
1927 Targa Florio Emilio Materassi Type 35 C
1928 French Grand Prix William Grover-Williams Type 35 C
1928 Italian Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1928 Spanish Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1928 Targa Florio Albert Divo Type 35 B
1929 French Grand Prix William Grover-Williams Type 35 B
1929 German Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1929 Spanish Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1929 Monaco Grand Prix William Grover-Williams
1929 Targa Florio Albert Divo Type 35 C
1930 Belgian Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1930 Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen and Hermann zu Leiningen
1930 French Grand Prix Philippe Etancelin Type 35 C
1930 Monaco Grand Prix René Dreyfus
1931 Belgian Grand Prix William Grover-Williams and Caberto Conelli
1931 Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1931 French Grand Prix Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi Type 51
1931 Monaco Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1932 Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1933 Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Louis Chiron
1933 Monaco Grand Prix Achille Varzi
1934 Belgian Grand Prix René Dreyfus
1936 French Grand Prix Jean-Pierre Wimille and Raymond Sommer Type 57 G
1937 24 hours of Le Mans Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist Type 57 G
1939 24 hours of Le Mans Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron Type 57 C
Bugatti in Formula One
Year Chassis Engine(s) Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Points WCC
1956 Bugatti 251 Bugatti Straight-8 D ARG MON 500 BEL FRA GBR GER ITA 0* -*
Maurice Trintignant Ret
* The World Constructors' Championship was not awarded before 1958.
Ettore Bugatti also designed a successful motorised railcar, the Autorail, and an airplane, which never flew. His son, Jean Bugatti, was killed on August 11, 1939 at the age of 30, while testing a Type 57 tank-bodied race car near the Molsheim 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 Paris and designed a series of new cars. Ettore Bugatti died on August 21, 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, Ferrari, and Maserati 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 producing 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 Automobili SpA
Bugatti EB110 (1996).
Italian 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 Campogalliano, Italy, a town near Modena, home to other performance-car manufacturers De Tomaso, Ferrari, Pagani and Maserati.
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 August 27, 1993, through his holding company, ACBN Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, 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 sedan called the EB 112.
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 States market called the "Bugatti America" was in the preparatory stages when the company closed. Bugatti's liquidators sold Lotus to Proton of Malaysia.
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, 7 times 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
Volkswagen AG purchased the rights to produce cars under the Bugatti marque in 1998. They commissioned ItalDesign to produce the Bugatti EB118 concept, a touring sedan which featured a 555 hp DIN (408 kW) output 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 IAA in Frankfurt. 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 and introduced the EB 16/4 Veyron concept, a 16-cylinder quadruple turbo charged car with 1001 hp DIN (736 kW), 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 2.5 sec, and a top speed of 407 km/h (253 mph), at the Paris, Geneva and Detroit 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 Dorlisheim48°31′32″N 07°30′01″E / 48.52556, 7.50028—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. Minimum speed claims have been met in several high speed tests where the car slightly exceeded its target, reaching 408.47 km/h (254 mph). 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 100 L (26 US gal/22 imp gal) fuel tank would empty in just 12 minutes 46 seconds. This is a safety measure studied by the engineers because after 15 straight minutes at 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 color combinations, including red and black, blue and dark blue, grey and black, and so on.
Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès is the latest limited edition version of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. It is a limited edition model that 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 limited edition Veyron's 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 that of the interior-balls calfskin composes the new interior.
Bugatti Veyron was designed by a Slovak Jozef Kaban, the head of Volkswagen’s Škoda Auto Design Department.
^ Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886–1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1985)
^ bugatti.com: 400 and beyond
Bugatti Owners Club: http://www.prescott-hillclimb.com/bugattiownersclub.aspx
Bugatti vehiclesBugatti Automobiles S.A.S.