Bugatti, a car manufacturer founded in 1909 by Ettore Bugatti, is one of the world’s most exclusive and prestigious automotive brands. The company’s history goes back over 100 years and includes legendary models such as the Type 57 Atlantic and Type 41 Royale. This article covers Bugatti’s history, offerings, and more!
The history of Bugatti can be divided into two eras, separated by World War II. In the first era (1909-1940), Ettore Bugatti was the owner and chief designer of the company, while in the second era (1950-1960), son Jean Bugatti took over the reins of the brand until his death in 1939. The golden age of the Bugatti was certainly the first era, with legendary models that are still highly sought after by collectors today.
Early years – 1909-1921
Bugatti was founded in the city of Molsheim, in Alsace, France. It is important to mention that Bugatti has an Italian heritage as both Ettore and Jean Bugatti were born in Italy. The first model, the Type 1, went into production in 1910 and 14 were produced by 1914. It was a huge success and Ettore Bugatti added “TB” (Bugatti Type 1) to his signature in tribute to the car’s first birthday.
The Bugatti team was able to celebrate again in 1912 with the birth of their second model that went down in history as one of the world’s most iconic cars: the Grand Prix. The car was designed for racing and had a 4-valve per cylinder twin camshaft engine, which was very advanced technology at the time.
The Type 13, launched in 1921, scored an incredible 19 wins out of 34 races, including the French Grand Prix at Miramas. The following year, Bugatti took six major Grand Prix victories. The success of the Type 13 and subsequent models allowed Bugatti to relocate to a larger factory at its current location in Molsheim.
A few years later, several other shareholders who shared Bugatti’s passion for racing entered the company and began designing a car capable of winning races. In 1924, the Type 10 was born, and two years later the even more successful Type 13 Brescia. These cars were the first to be produced in excess of 100 units per year, and one of them, owned by Ettore Bugatti himself, won its class at the 1928 Monte Carlo Rally.
In 1929, Bugatti launched the Type 18, which marked Bugatti’s transition from sports racing cars to luxury vehicles, and was the last model Jean Bugatti worked on before embarking on his own racing career. He died tragically in 1939 at the age of 30 and never had the opportunity to work with his father again.
After the death of Jean Bugatti, two years passed before the Etore Bugatti launched truly successful models. The Type 35 and Type 45 models made Bugatti a famous brand all over the world and were produced for almost 20 years, with approximately 1,500 units of each model produced.
The first Type 35 won its class in many races around the world and was owned by celebrities.
The Type 35 B was later replaced by the Type 35 C, which had more horsepower thanks to an intake manifold with two intake pipes per cylinder. This new feature made the model the best sports car of its time.
The Type 45 was designed with luxury in mind, but its predecessor’s Type 35 C power unit gave it an additional advantage on the racetrack as well.
Ettore Bugatti was known to work long hours and had no interest in money or material wealth. He felt, however, money was necessary to produce the best product possible. He did not want his cars to be mass-produced and had a low opinion of the purpose.
Bugatti went through some financial difficulties during the Great Depression, but managed to survive them nonetheless. In fact, many people consider the Type 57 Atlantic to be the most beautiful car from the Ettore Bugatti.
At the age of 85, Ettore Bugatti died in 1947 in his home in Duchcov Castle, wearing a hat with a sword and holding his favorite cane in his hand. His wife and daughter, along with members of the Bugatti family, were present at his funeral. The coffin was placed on the hood of a Type 57 car and was transported by French engineers who worked with Bugatti. After the funeral, Ettore Bugatti was buried on his estate in Italy.
At the time, one of the Bugatti’s most beloved models was the Atlantic Roadster, which was designed to be a sporty vehicle for traveling at high speeds. It had a streamlined shape with teardrop-shaped fenders, a torpedo tail and sharp angles. The interior was luxurious as well; it consisted of two seats facing each other, which were upholstered in leather.
The Type 57 was created as a luxury car for the rich and is still regarded today as one of the most beautiful vehicles in motoring history. It was the last model designed by Jean Bugatti before his death in 1939.
The Type 57 had an eight-cylinder supercharged engine which gave it about 100 horsepower. However, the car’s top speed was limited to around 80mph, making it one of the slowest cars in its class. To solve this problem, Type 57 chassis were often fitted with a Roots turbocharger, and some cars also had dual turbochargers.
The Bugatti brand was purchased by former General Motors president Roland “Rudy” Pensky in 1998. Since the company had been struggling with financial problems for a long time before its purchase, Rudy Pensky decided to produce the new Bugatti Veyron. At over a million dollars, it was one of the most expensive cars ever made at the time. For many years it was also a record holder in the category of the fastest production cars.
The current CEO and President of Bugatti is Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, who has led the company since 2001. Before joining Bugatti, he was associated with Volkswagen for over two decades and is one of the most important figures in the automotive industry.
The new Bugatti model, dubbed the Chiron, costs around $ 2 million and boasts an impressive top speed of 261mph! There are only 500 vehicles in the world, so anyone interested should get ready to buy.
Currently, Bugatti’s flagship car is the Chiron, which is named after Louis Chiron, one of Bugatti’s most famous racing drivers in the 1920s and 1930s.