Automobiles E. Bugatti was a French car manufacturer founded in 1909 in Molsheim, Alsace, as a manufacturer of high-performance automobiles by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti.
Bugattis were well known for the beauty of their designs (Ettore Bugatti was from a family of artists and considered himself to be both an artist and constructor) and for the large number of races that they have won. The death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947 proved to be the end for the marque, and the death of his son Jean in 1939 ensured there wasn't a successor to lead the factory. No more than about 8000 cars were made. 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 limited production exclusive sports cars.
Under Ettore Bugatti
Founder Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy, and the automobile company that bears his name was founded in 1909 in the town of Molsheim located in the Alsace. 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 Mans twice (in 1937 with Robert Benoist and 1939 with Pierre Veyron).
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. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car.
Bugatti's cars noticeably focused on design. 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".
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 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 the northwestern suburbs of Paris and designed a series of new cars, including the Type 73 road car and Type 73C single seater racing car (5 built). After World War II, a 375 cc supercharged car was canceled when Ettore Bugatti died on 21 August 1947. The business underwent a lingering demise, making its last appearance as a business in its own right at a Paris Motor Show in October 1952.
The company attempted a comeback under Roland Bugatti in the mid-1950s with the mid-engined Type 251 race car. Designed with help from 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 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.
Cars Manufactured by Bugatti:
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