Bugatti was founded by automotive pioneer Ettore Bugatti, and it remained in the hands of the Bugatti family for many years. Today, Bugatti is owned by Volkswagen and has been reborn as a producer of limited-edition vehicles.
Founder Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy, and the automobile company that bears his name was founded in 1909 in Molsheim located in the Alsace region which was part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1919. 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).
- Founded : 1909
- Founder : Ettore Bugatti
- Headquarters : Molsheim, Alsace, France
- Website : www.bugatti.com
More successes would follow, as Ettore's son Jean took over the racing program and design studio in the early thirties. Jean Bugatti's achievements include the elegant Royale Roadster of 1931 and the masterpiece of the marquee--the Type 57C Atlantic, which was introduced as a prototype at the Paris Motor Show in 1935. The vehicle was christened Aérolithe, but the name was changed to Atlantic in honor of a family friend who died trying to fly over the Atlantic Ocean. Only 17 Atlantics were built. One was recently discovered in the barn of a deceased English doctor.
The brand was very successful on the world's race tracks. The Type 35 won 501 races in 1925. In 1939 a Type T57C set a speed record at Le Mans. Tragically, Jean Bugatti was killed shortly thereafter while test-driving the car that had won at Le Mans.
In 1940, German invaders forced Ettore Bugatti to sell his plant to a German businessman. After the war, Ettore had difficulty re-establishing ownership of his company. Despondent over business problems and the death of his son, Jean, Ettore died soon thereafter. Although Bugatti produced a small car in the early 1950s, the golden age of the brand ended with World War II. In 1956, the plant at Molsheim was shuttered.
In the early 1960s, Hispano Suiza purchased the Bugatti name and manufactured airplane parts under the brand. In 1987, an Italian businessman bought the name and turned out 150 copies of a four-wheel-drive sports car dubbed the EB-110. In 1998 the brand was sold to Volkswagen. Today, Bugatti builds the 1,001-horsepower Bugatti Veyron 16.4 sports car at a new plant in Mosheim. With a horseshoe grille and a 253-mph top speed, the Veyron is every bit a Bugatti. You can have one for a mere 2.5 million.