History of Bugatti, manufacturer of high performance automobiles

Posted: 18 Mar 2011 04:28 AM PDT

The company Bugatti was founded in 1909 in the city of Molsheim, France (Germany at that time) by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti and was set up as a manufacturer of high performance automobiles.

Bugatti is legendary for producing some of the most exclusive cars in the world, as well as some of the fastest, over the years the company has had its fair share of ups and downs, it has been bought-out several times and is now currently owned by the Volkswagen Group.

Ettore Bugatti Era

Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy, and founded the automobile company Bugatti in 1909. The company quickly grew a positive reputation for its engineering an artistic designs of their automobiles. Bugatti also enjoyed great success in early motor racing, winning the first ever Monaco Grand Prix. The company’s success culminated with driver Jean-Pierre Wimille winning the 24 hours of Le Mans twice in 1937 and in 1939.


Bugatti’s cars were as much works of art as they were mechanical creations. Engine blocks were hand scraped to ensure that the surfaces were so flat that gaskets were not required for sealing, many of the exposed surfaces of the engine compartment featured Guilloché (engine turned) finishes on them, and safety wires were threaded through almost every fastener in intricately laced patterns.

Rather than bolt the springs to the axles as most manufacturers did, Bugatti’s axles were forged such that the spring passed though a carefully sized opening in the axle, a much more elegant solution requiring fewer parts. He famously described his arch competitor Bentley’s cars as “the world’s fastest lorries” for focusing on durability. According to Bugatti, “weight was the enemy”.


Only a few examples of each of Ettore Bugatti’s vehicles were ever produced, the most famous being the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the “Royale”, the Type 57 “Atlantic” and the Type 55 sports car.

Throughout the production run of approximately 7,900 cars (of which about 2,000 still exist), each Bugatti model was designated with the prefix T for Type, which referred to the chassis and drive train.

During the World War II Bugatti worked at Levallois in northwestern suburbs of Paris, on several new projects, including the Type 73 road car, Type 73C single seater racing car (5 built), and the Type 75. After the war, a 375 cc supercharged car was canceled when Ettore died.

Racing success

Bugatti cars were extremely successful in racing, with many thousands of victories in just a few decades. The little Bugatti Type 10 swept the top four positions at its first race. The 1924 Bugatti Type 35 is probably the most successful racing car of all time, with over 2,000 wins. Bugattis swept to victory in the Targa Florio for five years straight from 1925 through 1929. Louis Chiron held the most podiums in Bugatti cars, and the 21st century Bugatti company remembered him with a concept car named in his honor. But it was the final racing success at Le Mans that is most remembered—Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron won the 1939 race with just one car and meager resources.

The end

On the 11th of August 1939 Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean Bugatti, was killed while testing a Type 57 tank-bodied race car near the Molsheim factory and subsequently the company’s fortunes began to decline. World War II also ruined the factory in Molsheim, and the company lost control of the property. During the war, Bugatti planned a new factory at Levallois in Paris and designed a series of new cars. Ettore Bugatti died on 21 August 1947.

The company attempted a comeback under Roland Bugatti in the mid-1950s with the mid-engined Type 251 race car. Designed with help from famed Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Maserati designer Gioacchino Colombo, the car failed to perform to expectations, and the company’s attempts at automobile production were halted.

In the 1960s, Virgil Exner designed a Bugatti as part of his “Revival Cars” project. A show version of this car was actually built by Ghia using the last Bugatti Type 101 chassis, and was shown at the 1965 Turin Motor Show. Finance was not forthcoming, and Exner then turned his attention to a revival of Stutz.

Bugatti continued manufacturing airplane parts and was sold to Hispano-Suiza (another auto maker turned aircraft supplier) in 1963. Snecma took over in 1968, later acquiring Messier. The two were merged into Messier-Bugatti in 1977.

Bugatti Automobili SpA Era

Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli acquired the famous Bugatti name in 1987, and established Bugatti Automobili SpA. The new company built a factory designed by the architect Giampaolo Benedini in Campogalliano, Italy, a town near Modena, home to other high performance car manufacturers De Tomaso, Ferrari, Pagani and Maserati.

By 1989 the plans for the new Bugatti revival were presented by Paolo Stanzani and Marcello Gandini, famous designers of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach. The first completed car was labeled the Bugatti EB110 GT, advertised as the most technically advanced sports car ever produced.

On 27 August 1993, through his holding company, ACBN Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, Romano Artioli purchased the Lotus car company from General Motors. The acquisition brought together two of the greatest historical names in automotive racing, and plans were made for listing the company’s shares on international stock exchanges. Bugatti also presented in 1993 the prototype of a large saloon called the EB112.

By the time the EB110 came to market the North American and European economies were in recession, and operations ceased in September 1995. A model specific to the United States market called the “Bugatti America” was in the preparatory stages when the company closed. Bugatti’s liquidators sold Lotus to Proton of Malaysia.

In 1997 German manufacturer Dauer Racing bought the EB110 license and remaining parts stock to Bugatti in order to produce five more EB110 SS units, although they were greatly refined by Dauer. The factory was later sold to a furniture-making company, which also collapsed before they were able to move in, leaving the building unoccupied.

Perhaps the most famous Bugatti EB110 owner was racing driver Michael Schumacher, seven-time Formula One World Champion, who bought the EB110 in 1994 while racing for the Benetton team. In 2003 Schumacher sold the car which had been repaired after a severe crash the year he bought it—to Modena Motorsport, a Ferrari service and race preparation garage in Germany.

Bugatti Automobiles Era

In 1998 Volkswagen purchased the rights to produce cars under the Bugatti marque, they also went on to buy Lamborghini, the Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe, England and the Bentley marque.

On 22 December 2000, Volkswagen officially incorporated Bugatti Automobiles, the company also purchased the 1856 Château Saint Jean, formerly Ettore Bugatti’s guest house in Dorlisheim, near Molsheim, and began refurbishing it to serve as the company’s headquarters. The original factory was still in the hands of Snecma, who were unwilling to part with it. In August 2000 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Volkswagen announced that they would instead build a new modern atelier (factory) next to and south of the Château. The atelier was officially inaugurated on 3 September 2005.


Giugiaro concept cars

Volkswagen commissioned ItalDesign’s Giorgetto Giugiaro to design a series of concept cars to return the marque to prominence. The first example, the EB 118, was a two-door coupé and was introduced at the hello Motor Show in 1998. It was followed by the four-door EB 218 touring sedan, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Later that year, the 18/3 Chiron was shown at the IAA in Frankfurt. The final Bugatti concept was not designed by ItalDesign: the VW-designed EB 18/4 GT was introduced at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show.

All of these early concepts featured a 555 PS (408 kW; 547 hp) 18-cylinder engine. This was the first-ever W-configuration engine on a passenger vehicle, with three banks of six cylinders. It shared many components with Volkswagen’s modular engine family.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Development of the EB 16.4 Veyron began with the 1999 EB 18/4 “Veyron” concept car, which itself had a chassis based on that of the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron concept car. It was similar in design and appearance to the final Veyron production car. One major difference was the EB 18/4′s use of a W18 engine with three banks of six cylinders. The Veyron’s chief designer was Hartmut Warkuss, and the exterior was designed by Jozef Kabaň of Volkswagen, rather than Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign, who had handled the three prior Bugatti concepts.

The then – Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch announced the Veyron at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show. It was promised to be the fastest, most powerful and most expensive car in history. Instead of the W18, it would use a VR6/WR8-style W16 engine. First seen in the 1999 Bentley Hunaudières concept car, the W16 would have four turbochargers and produce a quoted 1001 horsepower. Top speed was promised at 407 km/h (253 mph), and the price was announced at €1 million.

Development continued throughout 2001 and the EB 16/4 Veyron was promoted to “advanced concept” status. In late 2001, Bugatti announced that the car, officially called the “Bugatti Veyron 16.4″, would go into production in 2003. Taking great pride in the making of the Veyron, the production plant is affectionately called the “Atelier” which means an artists workroom.

Piëch retired that year as chairman of the Volkswagen Group and was replaced by Bernd Pischetsrieder. The new chairman promptly sent the Veyron back to the drawing board for major revisions. Neumann was replaced as Bugatti president by Thomas Bscher in December 2003, and substantial modifications were made to the Veyron under the guidance of a former VW engineer, Bugatti Engineering chief Wolfgang Schreiber.

16C Galibier

The 16C Galibier was first unveiled during the Celebration of the Centenary of the Marque in Molsheim. The presentation was only for Bugatti customers. The car show in Molsheim showed the car in blue carbon fibre and aluminum parts. One year later Bugatti showed the world the 16C Galibier Concept at “VW Group Night” at the Geneva Auto Show in a new black and aluminum color combination.

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Fiat and Gucci team up to create special edition Fiat 500

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 09:52 AM PDT

Just over a year ago Fiat teamed up with Ferrari and created the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari which was a sportier version of the little car. Now they have joined forces with Gucci to make another special edition 500 which is to celebrate 150 years of the unification of Italy and Gucci’s 90th anniversary.

Gucci creative director Frida Giannini in collaboration with Fiat's design office has customized the iconic Fiat 500, or as it's known in Italian, "cinquecento." and its called the Fiat 500 by Gucci.

Power comes from a 100-hp 1.4L engine with rear brake calipers in Gucci green.

This special edition car is available in either a glossy black or white finish and features the design ethos of two of Italy's most historical brands. The 500 by Gucci sits on a set of 16-inch wheels with GG hubcaps finished in the same color as the body.

The Gucci scheme green-red-green stripes run the length of the car and also appears on the interior seats, on the gear shift, the key-cover, the carpets and on the seatbelts. The interior also features chic embroidery, exclusive materials, glossy and satin chromes, velvety varnish on the radioboard and two-toned seats in Frau leather with the Guccissima print.

The Fiat 500 by Gucci will be available between the 1st of April and June 30th with prices starting at 17,000 euro ($23,375 USD).

Fiat by Gucci gallery

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Jay Leno checks out the 2011 Dodge Challenger Green Envy

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 08:30 AM PDT

Jay Leno has released another review video, this time he is checking out the 2011 Dodge Challenger Green Envy, Leno talks a bit about this green muscle machine in his garage then after an interview with the Head of Dodge, Ralph Gilles Jay takes the car for a cruise on the city streets.

The Dodge Challenger SRT8 Green Envy features full-body black stripes, 20 inch rims, and SRT-branded seats in Dark Slate Nappa Leather. Powering this special edition muscle car is a 392-cubic inch HEMI engine kicking out 470 hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque.

Click here to learn more about the Dodge Challenger SRT8 Green Envy

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