Bugatti’s legacy would be assured, even if the dormant nameplate hadn’t been revived for awesome supercars circa 1991.
That’s because, before World War II, the company, under founder Ettore Bugatti, produced a series of exquisite and winning racers, plus elegant and mechanically advanced road cars bodied by the world’s premier coachbuilders. Restorers who dismantle Bugattis discover that every part, down to the smallest nut and bolt, is beautifully designed.
Virtually every car to wear the badge, through to today, is highly prized and commands extraordinarily high prices in the showroom or at auction. In 2019, the one-of-a-kind Bugatti “La Voiture Noire,” built for the company’s 110th anniversary, sold for €16.7 million, making it the most expensive new car ever.
“It is an amazing legacy that Ettore has left to the world,” says Matt Baran, editor of the American Bugatti Club magazine Pur Sang and the current custodian of his grandfather’s 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux Coupe.
Ettore Bugatti was Italian, a mechanical genius from a family of craftsmen and designers. He built his first car at age 18, a commission for a count. It won a prize and led to steady work. When it was launched by Ettore in 1909, the Molsheim Bugatti factory was in Germany. But after World War I, the entire Alsace region was ceded to France, and Bugatti chose to stay on there—initially producing mostly race cars. The lightweight Type 10 of 1910 was the first of Bugatti’s “Pur Sang” (thoroughbred) cars.