The story of Ettore Bugatti and his legacy
A brand which proved that "nothing is too beautiful, and nothing is too expensive"
Bugatti is a very exclusive brand, a symbol of exotic and luxurious hypercars. Ever since the company was founded, these cars came with a certain passion which is present even today. But, the brand wasn't really full of luck.
It all started in 1898 when Ettore Bugatti was 17-years-old. He made his first vehicle called Type 1. It had four engines (two on each axle), but young Ettore didn't make any more of them. It was just a prototype, which showed Ettore's passion in mechanics.
The very first Ettore's car-Type 1. Credit: Woiweb.com
With support from his family, he continued with the idea of making automobiles, and his Type 2 model was presented at the 1901 Milan Trade Fair.
Type 2. Credit: RobReportedit.files.wordpress.com
The new car caught the attention of Baron de Dietrich, who hired Ettore to design cars at his new factory Lorraine-Dietrich in Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace. The first cars were great (for the time), and Bugatti's name was featured on few prototypes. Later, Ettore designed many prototypes for other companies, and while working for the Deutz company, he decided to make his own proper car. And, in the basement of his house, the Type 10 Petit Pur-Sang was born.
Type 10. Credit: FavCars.com
It was at this point he realized that he wanted to start his own company, and in 1909 in Molsheim, the new car company was born-Automobiles E. Bugatti. The company didn't have the best start due to WWI, but Bugatti survived thanks to making military airplanes. After the war, the production continued in 1919, and the company made 3 new models that would put them on the map. That year, at the Paris Motor Show, the public was introduced to the Type 13, Type 22 and Type 23.
Bugatti had a lot of success in making cars, since they were reliable, fast, and more technologically advanced than any other car of the time (same goes for their current cars). So, it wasn't a surprise when Bugatti started to destroy the opponents in races. The model Type 35 is the most successful racing car of all time, and won more than 1000 races during its time. It even won the legendary Targa Florio race...5 years in a row, and the most famous Type 35 driver was Louis Chiron.
Bugatti Type 35. Credit: Hemmings.com
At this point, Bugatti's cars symbolized luxury, a wealthy lifestyle that not many could get. And Ettore himself was known for some interesting replies to the customer complaints. When a client complained about Type 35 not being able to start in cold weather, Ettore replied by saying: "Sir! If you can afford a Type 35, you can surely afford a heated garage!" Another client complained about the quality of brakes on his new Bugatti, and Ettore replied: "I make my cars to go, not stop!"
Ettore Bugatti with one of his creations. Credit: MotorValley.it
The company also won two Le Mans races (in 1937 and 1939), which increased the reputation to the name. But, Ettore's personal life was bad at the time. In August 1939, his son and intended heir to the company, died in a car crash while testing the Type 57. It is believed that this is when problems started to hit the company.
Bugatti Type 57. Credit: ClaspGarage.blogspot.com
In the first months of WWII, Bugatti's factory was destroyed. When the war ended, Ettore tried to resurrect it, but he became seriously ill. In 1947, at the age of 65, he died and left the company in pieces. Most of his money was split between the families from his two marriages, but thanks to his 25-years-old son Roland, the company introduced a new car in 1951-the Type 101.
Bugatti Type 101. Credit: FavCars.com
Unfortunately, only 6 (different) units of 101 were made. And, even though Bugatti's future looked fine, France adopted the tax horsepower system which was a fatal blow for many luxury cars. If you have never heard that term, it basically meant, the bigger your engine was, the higher was your tax. Since people turned to cars with smaller engines (to avoid paying huge taxes), Bugatti was forced to close its doors in 1952. Between 1909 and 1952, the company made only 8.000 cars.
There were few attempts to revive the name; one of the best attempts came from the famous designer Virgil Exner, who made a one-off Type101C as a part of his "Revival Cars" project. But, it was all in vain, and the Type101C remains the very last Bugatti that was made under the original trademark.
Bugatti T101C. Credit: Coachbuild.com
In 1987, Italian entrepreneur Roman Artioli bought the brand and founded Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. and built a factory in Modena, Italy. The first car that came out of that factory was the great EB110 GT in 1991, which became the fastest car in the world with a top speed of 343 km/h. The company later presented a prototype of a large saloon called EB112, but they never made it.
Instead, they gave us a faster version of the EB110 called the SS. Its top speed was 349 km/h, and the most famous owner of one of these beauties was Michael Schumacher.. However, when this car came out, European and North American economies were facing a recession, and the company was forced to close its doors in September 1995.
But in 1998, Bugatti's name came back among the living when it was bought by Volkswagen Group. And after 7 years of development, they presented a Concorde for the roads-the mighty Veyron. With 1001 HP coming out of its W16 engine, Bugatti became the fastest car in the world once again...and the most expensive car at the time. After 10 years of productions, and quite a lot of variations, the last Veyron rolled off the line in Molsheim on 23rd February 2015.
One year later, we were given an even more insane Bugatti-the Chiron. The new 1500 HP monster came with a more striking design than the Veyron, and its top speed is limited to 420 km/h for safety reasons. This year, at the Geneva Motor Show, Bugatti presented the Chiron Sport, which is 18kg lighter than the standard one.
However, the cherry on the cake is the latest beast from this company. Being powered by the same W16 engine, the new Divo is a more track-focused version of the already mental Chiron. But, even though it has 1500 HP, Divo's top speed is limited to just 380 km/h. Only 40 units will be made at a price of around $5.8 million...and all of them were sold out the very first day of availability.
Today, we are witnessing a battle between Bugatti and Koenigsegg fanboys trying to prove which is better. Personally, I believe Bugattis are much better because they have a soul, something that I don't see in the 'Eggs. Throughout the years, this French company faced a lot of problems, only to come out of them stronger than ever. In 109 years of its existence, this company became a symbol for luxurious, exotic and very fast cars. From the Type 1 to the Divo, Bugatti proved the world that "nothing is too beautiful, nothing is too expensive."