Bugatti History: Unraveling the Myth of Automotive Excellence

1909 – 1930 The beginning of an icon.

In Milan, Carlo Bugatti, the father of Ettore and Rembrandt Bugatti, was born on February 16, 1856. Son of the architect and sculptor Giovanni Luigi Bugatti, he studied at the Brera Academy in Milan and the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1880, he began his career as an architect in the artistic work of Milan. In his work, ceramics, paintings, silverware and textile materials stand out. However, it stands out for its furniture designs. 

Influenced by Art Nouveau, Carlo Bugatti developed his style. In 1904, at the age of 48, Carlo Bugatti sold his studio in Milan and moved to Paris, where he worked for the ‘Dufayel’ and ‘Le Bon Marché’ department stores. It also produces pottery combined with silver and bronze. Six years later, he left Paris again to build a new studio at Pierrefonds near Compiègne.

Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti was born in Milan on September 15, 1881. At 17, he began his apprenticeship at the Prinetti and Stucchi factory, assembling bicycles. Just a year later, he built his first vehicle using two De Dion engines. In 1902, Ettore started car production at Eugène’s company, De Dietrich. Until 1904, Ettore Bugatti developed new models for the De Dietrich brand and participated in various races. 

In 1907, Ettore Bugatti married Barbara Maria Guiseppina Mascherpa. Together they have two sons and two daughters. In the same year, he signs a contract with the Deutz engine factory in Cologne and begins to build his racing car, an extremely light vehicle.

In 1909, Bugatti prematurely terminated the contract with Deutz. With the severance pay, he rents a disused dry cleaner in Molsheim (Alsace), where he founded his car factory, Automobiles Ettore Bugatti. The Peugeot ‘Bébé’ was developed there in 1911 and produced under license from Peugeot. Bugatti also begins production of Type 13. 

When the First World War broke out, Ettore Bugatti moved with his family to Milan and then to Paris, where he produced designs for eight- and sixteen-cylinder aircraft engines. With the end of the war, the family moved back to Alsace (now part of France) and reopened the car factory. 

Ettore Bugatti produced light sports cars and achieved success in various races – for example, the victory at Le Mans in 1920 or a victory at Brescia in 1921-. That same year, Type 28 was presented as a prototype, with many patents, such as the eight-cylinder three-litre engine. The chassis not only served as the basis for the Bugatti Royale, but it also served as the basis for future vehicles from the firm.

In 1922 the first Bugatti ‘touring car’ was presented, the Type 30. More than 600 units were assembled. This vehicle took the experience in competition but, it was also ideal for daily use. In 1925, according to Ettore’s tally, there were 412 victories in just nine months for racing cars produced by the Bugatti brand. Type 35 is the first model to be inevitably associated with the Bugatti brand. To date, it remains the most successful race car of all time, with more than 2,000 victories and podiums for approximately ten years. 

Type 35 features a teardrop-shaped body with an impressive drag coefficient. It is also a commercial success that lays the foundation for Molsheim. The Bugatti Type 35 was the only car of the time that could be driven on both public roads and racing tracks. ‘The world’s largest luxury car, a vehicle for aristocrats and royalty.’ That’s what Ettore Bugatti considers objective with the Type 41 Royale. 

A prototype of this model won the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in 1927. The Royale’s 12.7-litre engine surpasses all previous benchmarks set by luxury vehicles. Although Bugatti plans to make 25 units of the Royale, only three are marketed due to the economic crisis. 

However, like a businessman with a vision, Ettore Bugatti uses those engines in a high-speed train commissioned by the French government. Thus, he achieves another financial success for the company.

1930 – 1940Style and innovation.

The Bugatti Type 50 is one of the most advanced cars of the time. The double camshaft and the use of two diagonal valves are considered pioneers. Although this model does not achieve success on the circuits, it occupies a special place in Bugatti history, as it is one of the first models to bear the stylistic stamp of Jean, Ettore Bugatti’s son.

The formidable two-seater Type 55 SuperSport is ‘the Grand Prix powered driving car’, replacing the Type 43 in 1931. For Type 55, Bugatti uses the robust Type 47 chassis, originally designed for a heavy-duty engine. 16 cylinders. 

The result is one of the best Bugatti chassis. In addition, a newly developed transmission is installed, making the vehicle even more agile. A total of thirteen roadster versions and nine coupes were marketed in 1932, the only Ettore Bugatti vehicle designed with an all-wheel-drive system. Type 53 equipped the Type 50 engine block together with an independent suspension scheme on the front axle. 

Unlike Type 35, only a few units of Type 59 are assembled. Originally intended to have a 2.8-litre engine, the car is equipped with a 3.3-litre engine that debuted at the Spanish Grand Prix in San Sebastian. However, even with its sensational aesthetics, it could not disguise the fact that this car was already technically outperformed by the German competition even before its first race. 

Unlike Type 35, only a few units of Type 59 are assembled. Originally intended to have a 2.8-litre engine, the car is equipped with a 3.3-litre engine that debuted at the Spanish Grand Prix in San Sebastian. 

However, even with its sensational aesthetics, it could not disguise the fact that this car was already technically outperformed by the German competition even before its first race. Unlike Type 35, only a few units of Type 59 are assembled. Originally intended to have a 2.8-litre engine, the car is equipped with a 3.3-litre engine that debuted at the Spanish Grand Prix in San Sebastian.

However, even with its sensational aesthetics, it could not disguise the fact that this car was already technically outperformed by the German competition even before its first race.

In 1934, Type 57 began production based on a design made by Ettore Bugatti’s eldest son. The factory now competes directly with automakers such as Delage, Delahaye and Bentley. The Type 57 can be factory ordered with several different body options. The Atalante is considered, without a doubt, the most beautiful version. Also known as a “fake cabriolet”, it features a two-door coupe body, also available with a retractable roof. 

The Atalante, with only 34 assembled vehicles, is considered one of Jean Bugatti’s most important creations. The name Atalante comes from Greek mythology. Atlanta was a young hunter and the fastest woman in Greece. This vehicle is the latest Bugatti production car. 

Two years later, Jean Bugatti, who had already established his reputation as a vehicle design genius with the legendary Type 41 “Royale”, the Type 55 SuperSport and the Type 50 Superprofilée, is also responsible for designing one of the most beautiful Bugatti: the Type 57SC Atlantic. 

The body of the Atlantic was originally going to be made of magnesium – which is why the fin was stuck in the centre. It was just a design feature, but it served its vital function on a structural level. At that time, it was extremely difficult to solder the magnesium. Therefore, the two halves of the body and the wings were joined. The four bodies of the Atlantic were finally made of aluminium, but the arrangement of the fins is maintained and remains an eye-catching detail to this day.

Jean Bugatti continues to lead his father’s legacy, taking full responsibility for automobile production in 1936. He also takes over from Meo Constantini as head of the company’s racing team. On August 11, 1939, Jean Bugatti suffered a fatal accident during a test drive in a Bugatti Type 57C, which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans shortly before. At 30 years of age, he suffers an accident at more than 200 km / h. colliding with a tree in an attempt to avoid a cyclist. In 1940, due to the German occupation, the sale of the Molsheim factory to businessman Hans Trippel was forced.

1940 – 1963 Hard postwar years.

 After the war, the Bugatti factory returned to the family. There are many attempts to return to production, but Bugatti is unable to develop a new range of vehicles due to financial problems. After the war, the first victory in the competition happened in 1945 at the Bois de Boulogne Grand Prix (Paris). Ettore Bugatti and Jean-Pierre Wimille claim victory in a Bugatti Type 59 / 50B. 

A few years later, Ettore Bugatti died in Paris in August 1947. In 1948, Pierre Marco took over as director of the firm. Currently, the company produces a small series of Type 57 with slight modifications – happening to be called Type 101. In 1956 the production of vehicles was paralyzed. A total of approximately 7,900 units have left the factory since its foundation in 1963.

1987 – 1998 A new life for Bugatti.

 In 1987, Italian businessman Romano Artioli acquired the rights to the Bugatti brand and founded Bugatti Automobili SpA in Campogalliano, Italy. Four years later, Artioli produced a supercar with the help of some of the greatest talents in the automotive industry. 

The car was presented to the world on September 15, 1991, on Place de la Défense in Paris. The Bugatti EB 110 presents itself as a worthy representative of the brand’s tradition. It is the first car globally with a carbon fibre chassis, a six-speed gearbox, a twelve-cylinder engine with five valves, four turbochargers and permanent four-wheel drive. The latest evolution – the Bugatti EB 110 SuperSport – reaches a top speed of 351 km / h. Years later, the company filed for bankruptcy.

1998 – 2010 Volkswagen acquires Bugatti.

 In May 1998, the Volkswagen Group bought the rights to the Bugatti brand and presented the EB 118. This vehicle, a four-seater coupe with an 18-cylinder engine, was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at the ‘Italdesign’ studio. This concept serves as the basis for future models. 

After the EB 118, there are three concepts that Bugatti presents at different motor events. The Bugatti EB 218 is presented in Geneva as a four-door saloon. It is followed by the EB 18/3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A few weeks later, Bugatti presents at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show, the EB 18/4, which serves as the basis for the future development of the Bugatti Veyron.

In 2000, the Bugatti Veyron EB 16/4 is presented, a variation of the 18/4 presented the previous year. The Bugatti Veyron 16/4 has a 16-cylinder W engine with eight litres of displacement, capable of developing maximum power of 630 hp. 

Due to the interest and high acceptance of the concept, the production version was presented in 2001. This version has a maximum power increased to 1,001 hp, eight litres of displacement, four turbochargers, and a maximum torque of 1,250 Nm. The 8.0-liter W16 is equivalent to two V8 engines bolted together. Each cylinder has four valves (for a total of 64), but the configuration of each VR8 bank allows two camshafts to operate the cylinders. In this way, only four camshafts are needed for the whole assembly. 

The transmission is a dual-clutch box with seven gear ratios, magnesium paddles, and a shift between less than 150 milliseconds. The Bugatti Veyron can drive in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. In addition, it has a permanent four-wheel drive using a Haldex traction system. Such specifications need to be brought into contact with the asphalt.

For this reason, the Bugatti Veyron uses Michelin PAX compounds. They are special ‘run-flat tires, specifically designed to reach the maximum speed of the vehicle. These compounds cost $ 25,000 per game. The empty weight of the set is around 1,880 kilograms. This figure gives the vehicle a weight-to-power ratio, according to figures from Volkswagen.

On April 19, 2005, German control and homologation officials registered a maximum speed with the Bugatti Veyron 408.47 km / h. This speed is obtained during test sessions on the private Ehra-Lessien track, owned by the Volkswagen Group. The standard maximum speed of the Veyron is 343 km / h. When the car reaches 220 km / h, the hydraulic system lowers it until it places it with a ground clearance of about 9 cm. At the same time, the spoiler is unfolded. Circulating this way, the aerodynamic package offers 3,425 newtons of downforce, keeping the car in continuous contact with the asphalt. 

Top speed mode is a procedure that must be done while the vehicle is stationary. The driver must switch to a special key that he inserts to the left of the seat. Once entered, a checklist is started to determine if the car and driver can reach 407 km / h. If so, the rear wing retracts, the front air vents remain closed, and the ground clearance is reduced to 6.5 cm.

The Bugatti Veyron’s brakes feature perforated discs made of carbon fibre with reinforced ventilation. Silicon carbide discs, manufactured by SGL Carbon, have much higher resistance to weakening compared to conventional cast-iron discs. AP Racing makes the lightweight aluminum alloy monobloc brake callipers; 

They have eight titanium pistons on the front axle and six pistons on the rear. Bugatti claims that the vehicle’s maximum deceleration is 1.3g. with road tires. At speeds over 200 km / h, the rear wing also acts as a brake thanks to its 55 ° angle adjustment. In deceleration, a response time of just 0.4 seconds after applying the brakes adds a force of 0.68 g to the braking package.

In autumn 2005, production of the Bugatti Veyron began. At the time, it is the most complex engineering exercise seen in the motor industry. In 2008, Bugatti engineers combined a 1,001 hp supercar with an open-top body, resulting in the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport. This vehicle is featured in the Pebble Beach Elegance Contest. At a charity auction, the first chassis fetches a value of $ 3.2 million. 

Marking the company’s centenary, four special commemorative models are presented at the Villa d’Este Elegance Contest. The four models have details that are reminiscent of the Bugatti Type 35 and those years of company success in the competition.

In 2010, Bugatti again broke the speed record for production vehicles with the Veyron 16.4 SuperSport. Under the careful control of German homologation and control officials, the Veyron Super Sport reaches a maximum speed of 431.072 km / h. This figure places it in the Guinness Record as the fastest production vehicle in the world. 

The SuperSport variant of the Veyron is the wildest evolution of the Veyron range. It has a maximum power of 1,200 hp and a maximum torque of 1,500 Nm. Thanks to these figures, it can do 0-100 km / h in just 2.5 seconds.

2016 – Present The monster of Molsheim.

The Bugatti Chiron makes its debut at the Geneva Motor Show and is undoubtedly one of the show’s biggest stars. The successor to the Bugatti Veyron has 1,500 hp of power and a maximum torque of 1,600 Nm constant from 2,000 to 6,000 revolutions per minute. In addition, the manufacturer advertises high levels of efficacy, safety, and comfort. The Bugatti Chiron is taller and wider than its predecessor, offering more space, especially for the legs, and improved interior ergonomics. In addition, the headroom has been increased by 12mm. 

The legendary Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic inspires its exterior design. The Michelin tires on the new Bugatti Chiron have been tested in aerospace facilities. Dimensions are 285/30 R20 at the front and 355/25 R21 at the rear. These wheels are subjected to a maximum torque of 5,000 Nm, and each rubber is exposed to a centrifugal force of 3,800 g, that is, 3,800 times the force of gravity. All this strength is the result of the new W16 engine. As Bugatti reports, the Veyron’s engine has been completely redesigned.

For this reason, this 8.0-litre block with four turbochargers is capable of offering 25% more power than the previous model. That is 1,500 CV. The Bugatti Chiron uses a two-stage turbocharger system: below 3,800 turns, only two work, and, from this figure, the other two are added. Also striking is the 60,000 litres of air per minute that the turbochargers can introduce into the cylinders or the 800 litres of water per minute that the water pump moves.

The Bugatti Chiron remains an all-wheel-drive vehicle and sends all the power to the axles thanks to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox capable of handling 1,600 Nm of torque. The Bugatti Chiron uses a braking system that takes all its technology from Formula 1, uses carbon brakes with a silicon carbide base (CSIC). This material makes the brake disc lighter and has greater corrosion resistance. Compared to the Bugatti Veyron, the discs are 20 mm more in diameter and 2 millimeters thicker.

The callipers are made of titanium, and on the front axle, they have eight-piston callipers, and the rear axle is six. Another of the great attractions of the Bugatti Chiron is the new adaptive chassis with five driving programs: Lift, EB Auto, Autobahn, Handling, and Top Speed. In this way, 100% of the vehicle’s performance can be exploited. 

The system can adjust the stiffness of the shock absorbers, the power steering, the four-wheel drive, the rear differential, or the stability control. Lift or elevation mode is used when the car is driving through a bumpy area. When the car exceeds 50 km / h, it automatically enters the EB Auto mode, and when it exceeds 180 km / h, it switches to the Autobahn configuration.

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