Bugatti is one of the most luxurious names in the supercar industry. They are known for their speed and ingenuity, but there’s so much more to the story of the company than meets the eye. Here are 20 fun facts you didn’t know about the manufacturing giant Bugatti.
Over a century
Automobiles Ettore Bugatti is at least a century old—109 years old to be exact. It’s also quite a multicultural affair. Bugatti is a French car manufacturer that was founded in what was a German city back then. An Italian born gentleman, Ettore Bugatti, founded the company. These facts are a testament to how great the company was and how much greater it could’ve been. Some might say that the story of the luxury car company is a sad one; in some ways it could be. It involved deaths and failures, but it also had plenty of successes enough to celebrate. The truth is we’re still talking about the manufacturer and the cars a whole century after they were started. If that isn’t success in life, it’s difficult to think of what else could be. Bugatti legacy has lived on, even now 70 years after he has died.
Ettore Bugatti came from a family of true artists. His father, Carlo Bugatti, was an important figure in the Art Nouveau movement, particularly in jewelry and furniture design. Bugatti himself was an artist, and he translated his creativity through his automobile design. Bugatti cars are known for a few things today: luxury and speed. However, they are also very much known for their designs as well. The artistry built into every single Bugatti vehicle is something that car manufacturers can only admire today. Bugatti cars offer a level of engineering detail that was unrivaled in those times, but they also offer unique and distinct quality of styles that surely transcends the measures of time. Founder Bugatti considered himself a constructor but also as an artist in his craft. He dedicated his life to creating one-of-a-kind masterpieces in the form of four-wheeled vehicles, a feat that’s even more impressive given the type of technology that was around during his time.
Need for speed
Aside from being an artist, car manufacturer, and constructor, Bugatti was also a racecar driver. It makes sense considering one of the most descriptive factors about Bugatti cars is their speed. Bugatti cars are indeed built for speed. They are designed with a track in mind, a racecar, and a race. Early on in their careers, the Bugatti family experienced a few wins in Grand Prix automobile racing. Bugatti also won the very first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929 among with many others. As a matter of fact, they used a single car to win several races, the Bugatti Type 10. In no time at all, they were dominating top positions in various races. To give you just a rough idea, here’s their most successful racing car: the Bugatti Type 35. It accumulated over 2,000 wins in a matter of just a couple of decades.
Besides cars, Bugatti also designed airplanes. His fascination went far beyond the ground and into the skies. However, he was only able to manufacture one airplane, and it also proved that it was enough to get people to notice. The Bugatti 100P is another work of art to say the least. When it was manufactured in 1930, it was a true gem and a masterpiece both in its design aspects and of course, in its engineering. There were so many aspects of the airplane that just took it to the new level. It featured a streamlined fuselage that contained a couple of supercharged, straight eight Bugatti Grand Prix engines. These engines powered up the plane’s propellers. It had a V-tail on top of a Y-shaped empennage, and it even has some type of an automated flight control system.
Pierre Veyron was one of the original Bugatti development engineers back during Ettore Bugatti’s time. He also happened to be a test driver and a company race driver for Bugatti. In 1939, Veyron won the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race alongside his co-driver Jean-Pierre Wimille. They were driving a Bugatti of course. 24 Hours of Le Mans is still an active race, and it’s not only a test in speed but also in endurance as well. The race is brutal as the car and its drivers have to survive an entire 24 hours of driving, amidst fatigue and all the possibilities of car failure. Veyron and Wimille will forever be remembered in Bugatti as the winners of such a race. In honor of Pierre Veyron’s work for the company and his achievements in racing, Bugatti named one of the fastest cars they’ve ever manufactured after his namesake: the Veyron EB 16.4.
In 1939, an explosion involving Bugatti rattled the car-manufacturing world then and almost blew up the entire area where it had happened. One of the Bugatti vehicles lost its air engine, which resulted to the explosion. It was true then that Bugatti was willing to test the most dangerous engines in order to achieve their manufacturing goals. That seems to be true to this day and age. The Veyron engine is a marvel in itself. It is impressive and extremely powerful. However, it is also probably one of the most dangerous engines there ever was. In 2001, when engineers at Bugatti were first testing the Veyron engine, they didn’t predict what followed suit. The Veyron engine produced enough heat during operation that the enginee almost burned the entire factory down. Talk about power in a machine.
A lot of people know about Bugatti and even those who aren’t exactly car enthusiasts have at least heard the name of the company before. From time to time, we’ll come across a celebrity that has a Bugatti. We’ll marvel at it for a few seconds before we move on. But not a lot of people know that Bugatti is actually owned by Volkswagen now. After Bugatti’s death in 1947, the company experienced a lot of financial difficulties. It’s last car show as a full Bugatti business was in 1952 at the Paris Motor Show. That same year, the original Bugatti operations ceased to exist. After a few unsuccessful tries in reviving the company since 1952, something finally happened to overturn the dark times. Bugatti was acquired by Roman Artioli in 1987 and by Volkswagen in 1998. Both manufacturers produced some very memorable Bugatti vehicles, including the Veyron. These vehicles are the Bugatti cars of today, and they all represent Ettore Bugatti’s vision in some way, shape, or form.
Back in its early times, the Bugatti Veyron was designed with aluminum front grills. Using aluminum in cars is purely for weight purposes. Aluminum is a lightweight yet strong metal. The use of it in cars will shed off hundreds of pounds of body weight. That was the same idea when Bugatti used it on the Veyron. However, they didn’t take into consideration how the aluminum would fare with the Veyron’s speed. It turns out that the Veyron had issues with bird strikes much like an airplane would. A bird strike is a collision between an airborne animal—or birds—and a man-made automobile—typically airplanes. The Veyron was definitely not an airplane, but the aluminum front grills back then sure made it fly like it was.
One of the options you can get for a Bugatti these days is to have a single carat diamond placed into the speedometer and power needles in the car. The idea behind this, of course, is simply luxury. What more can be luxurious than having an actual diamond in your car? Nothing much else really. It turns out that people thought that Bugatti cars are luxurious enough to not warrant the need of diamonds installed in the cars. The diamond option was not a popular one, and it might have been a complete no-seller. Only Bugatti owners will know the true answer. A single carat of diamond is either not luxurious enough to match the extravagance of a Bugatti or it may just be a little too much. If only we can find a Bugatti that actually has one, we might be able to decide for ourselves.
Let’s talk about feats in engineering. Bugatti has some of fastest cars in the entire world. To design and manufacture a car is not a small thing. It takes a lot of creativity, talent, hard work, and knowledge, of course. But to design something like the Veyron is another thing. It takes someone to think outside the box in order to have a vehicle that can perform as well as expected. While standard cars only need one radiator, the Bugatti Veyron needs a total of 10 radiators to keep its 1,200 hp engine cool. It’s impressive enough that the car runs with 1,200 hp. But to be able to design and engineer and fit 10 radiators into this vehicle is a feat in itself. It takes approximately 15 hours to build a single radiator for the Veyron alone. That’s a total of 150 hours just on radiation work for this car.
It’s not really a mileage issue. It’s not even a Bugatti issue. The truth is it’s not an issue at all but rather an interesting fact. The fastest Bugatti is considered to be the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. It was tested by racecar driver Anthony Liu to have the max speed of 254.04 mph. That is extremely fast, and that also makes the car the fastest open-top production sports car. However, the Veyron Super Sport became the world’s fastest production vehicle of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010. It reached top speeds of 267.856 mph. The point is, given the speed of the Veyron, it doesn’t take much to consume all the gas in the car. As a matter of fact, if you were to drive the Veyron at maximum speed, it’ll only take 12 minutes before you’ve completely used up the gas in the tank.
In 1898, by the time Ettore Bugatti was only 17 years old, he was already passionate about vehicles and their speeds. He began working at Prinetti & Stucchi then. Prinetti & Stucchi was an Italian manufacturing company that produced sewing machines, bicycles, and motorcycles. This is where Bugatti built his first ever vehicle, a motorcycle with two engines. A year into his apprenticeship, he decided it was time to race. This time, Bugatti built a motorized tricycle, and he had planned on using it for his very first race, a round trip tour from Verona to Manutta and back to Verona again. We’re not entirely sure how Bugatti finished in the race. But his next race was surely a success. With a 3.0-liter, 4 cylinder engine, Bugatti won his first ever Grand Prix of Milan. That car also happened to be the very first one he ever built.
We all know that there’s a story to everything. Something inconspicuous as an hood ornament could have the darkest and unhappiest story that no one would ever suspect. In 1916, the first tragedy struck the Bugatti family with the death of Ettore Bugatti’s brother Rembrandt. Rembrandt Bugatti was an Italian artist, much like the rest of his family. He was a sculptor and was famous for his depiction of wildlife in bronze sculptures. He lived in Paris as a working artist before the First World War called him into action. He volunteered as a paramedic in Antwerp, which eventually triggered his depression. His depression was also aggravated by the fact that he could no longer work on his art as much as he wanted; this caused financial difficulties on his part. In addition, many of the animals in the zoo he frequented, the Antwerp Zoo, were being killed off due to feedstuff shortages. All of these factors resulted to his death by suicide in 1916. Rembrandt was only 31 years old at the time. The dancing elephant hood ornament used on the 1920s Bugatti Royale was Rembrandt’s design.
Jean Bugatti was always going to be a part of the family business. Being Ettore’s Bugatti’s eldest son, his future was already solidified from the moment he was born. Jean was born into such a creative family, that he himself expressed interest in the family business from such an early age. By his late teens, he has already shown proficiency in the business and was already doing some design work for his father. By the time he was 23, Jean designed most of what came to be the Bugatti Type 41 Royale. He continued to do design work for the company, eventually adding in some engineering ingenuity to some Bugatti prototypes. He frequently test drove many of the company’s cars, and an incident during one of his normal test drives would cost him his life. A cyclist rode into their test track after going through a hole in the fence. Jean, going at high speeds, ended up crashing into a tree after hitting the cyclist. Jean Bugatti, 30 years of age, died on August 11, 1939.
Hans and Fritz Schlumpf
After all the tragedy that struck the family and after the death of Ettore in 1947, the original Bugatti factory finally stopped production in 1956. All existing Bugatti’s made in that original factory hold an unbelievable value today. In 1963, Bugatti was finally sold off to Hispano-Suiza. They renamed the company and called it Messier Bugatti. All the stock cars that was left in the factory were eventually sold to the Schlumpf brothers, Swiss Italian car collectors known as the brothers who vowed to return every Bugatti to Alsace.
Originally released as the Bugatti Type 57, the Bugatti Atlantic was one of the most famous designs of the company. Built from 1934 to 1940, the Type 57 and its variants were designed by Jean Bugatti. There were a total of 710 Type 57 cars built during that time with quite a few variants. However, there were only a total of 4 Bugatti Atlantics ever built. These were a bit more unique in design compared to other Type 57s. The exclusivity and rarity of the Atlantics make it one of the most sought of collection cars in history. Three out of the original four Bugatti Atlantics have survived to this day. Ralph Lauren owns one of them, which he purchased in 1988 for $15 million. That car is now valued at $40 million.
The Veyron 16.4 Super Sport can start you off at about $2.25 million. An average coupe can go anywhere from $20k to $40k, and you can even get luxury cars these days for around $30k. That’s a big gap in pricing. So you can expect all the parts for the Veyron Super Sport to be just as pricey as the car itself. But one of the things you’ll be burning through if you were ever to drive a Super Sport is the very thing that the car sits on: the tires. The tires cost about $42k a set, but if you’re going at top speed, Michelin tires will only give you 15 minutes worth of road time; after that, the tires will need to be replaced. In addition, after you’ve replaced them a third time, Michelin requires an entire wheel swap for $69k. The price shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you can fork out $2 million easily for a vehicle. Otherwise, it also shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you just don’t drive it too much.
By the end of 2015, Bugatti halted production of Veyron. The final production vehicle was displayed during the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The company manufactured a total of 450 cars divided into 300 coupes and 150 roadsters. By the end of December 2013, Bugatti has sold its 400th Veyron. As of today, the Veyron is completely sold out. By February 2015, Bugatti has sold its very last and final 450th Veyron. It was the same Veyron that graced the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, La Finale. Whoever got the last one got one of the best because Bugatti certainly pulled all the shows for La Finale, the end.
It’s lost on us how and why a car company will sell cars just so they can lose money. Isn’t it a business after all? Volkswagen knew what they were getting into when they took the job of creating one of the best supercars in the world. According to analysis made by Berstein Research, Volkswagen has lost approximately $6.27 million for each of the 450 Veyrons they’ve sold since 2005. That’s roughly $2.8 billion in losses. Volkswagen didn’t even blink, as they continued to sell over the years and has now sold all the Veyrons ever produced. To the company, the Veyron was more a technical showcase; they were the proud parents of a technical and design marvel. This was also rightly so because the Veyron is a celebrity in and of itself. It is wonder of engineering—something that is representative of everything Bugatti was, is, and should be.
Bugatti in a lake
If you’re wealthy enough to purchase a Veyron, you might be wealthy enough to drive it into the lake as well. That’s exactly what a man in Texas did back in 2009. According to this man, he was driving his Veyron leisurely when he apparently saw a reflection of a low-flying pelican after he dropped his phone. We know. That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. And according to the video that circulated the Internet after someone captured it close by, what actually happened did not match his story whatsoever. Of course, his insurance company cancelled coverage and took him and his Veyron off to the courts for insurance fraud. We haven’t heard much else about the incident, but we can only imagine how much of a waste that was of a Veyron. It just shows that just because you can afford one, it doesn’t mean that you deserve one.