Born in Milano, Italy, 1881, Ettore was the son of Carlo Bugatti who not only worked as a painter but also as a silversmith, sculptor and woodworker. By the age of nineteen, Ettore Bugatti had just completed building his first real car. He nailed it. His automobile seemed almost futuristic. The auto featured a four speed gearbox, a four-cylinder overhead-valve engine and a variety of engineering improvements that only a gifted builder could have come up with.
In 1909, receiving financial support from banker de Vizcaya, Ettore Bugatti purchased a large property in Molsheim, on the German territory of Alsace. Soon after his newly acquired factory, Ettore decided to go a step further and built a small, lightweight racing machine to compete in the Le Mans race.
Although it looked like a four wheeled dwarf as compared to its giant competitors’ cars such as a Fiat, De Dietrich and others, the little but swift and powerful automobile came in second proving that Ettore was a more talented car designer as compared to many of the older engineers at the time. The year was 1911.
Three years later, the war came and Ettore, much like the majority of car builders, had to redistribute his attention to the much needed aircraft engines. As soon as the war was over, Ettore resumed his work and soon became a ‘baron’ leading a baroque lifestyle that earned him the title of ‘Le Patron’.
In 1922, Bugatti introduced a revolutionary car shaped like a cigar (Type 29/30) which featured hydraulic brakes and the manufacturer’s first eight-cylinder engine.
Dubbed “the Cigar” the car made its debut at the AFC grand prix in 1922 and took second place. One year later, Bugatti introduced the Type 32 which caused sensation due to its wing-like design, short wheelbase and covered wheels. The Type 32 was dubbed “the Tank” and boasted a redeveloped version of the previous 8-cylinder engine.
In 1924 Bugatti entered the Type 35 in the French Grand Prix held in Lyon. While the car’s design turned to its time’s traditional open-wheels design, the Type 35 retained the previous 8-cylinder engine and steadily became the car to beat for the next decade.
Most people know Bugatti as a car company because of their awesome Bugatti Veyron. With a 16-cylinder quad-turbo engine, it blew the doors off every top speed record known.