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|Fate||Sold to Hispano-Suiza in 1963|
|Key people||Ettore Bugatti (founder) |
|Products||Automobiles, aeroplane parts|
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 limited production exclusive sports cars.
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'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".
On 2 January 2009, it was revealed that a rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atlantic had been found in the garage of a deceased surgeon in England. Only 17 of this model were made, all by hand.
On 10 July 2009, a 1925 Bugatti Brescia Type 22 which had lain at the bottom of Lake Maggiore on the border of Switzerland and Italy for 75 years has been lifted out of the water. The Mullin Museum in Oxnard, CA bought it at auction for $351,343 at Bonham's Retromobile sale in Paris in 2010.
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
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