Ettore Bugatti, esthete and genius inventor of the fastest and most luxurious cars in the world

Along with luxury, refinement, speed, mechanical and aerodynamic innovations, often described as works of art or “thoroughbreds”, Bugatti cars are always appreciated, sought after, admired and dreamed of. Inseparable from this stylistic and technical epic, one man, Ettore Bugatti.

Born in Milan on September 15, 1881, son of the famous designer sculptor and goldsmith Carlo Bugatti, brother of the famous sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, he was immersed in artistic circles. He attended the famous Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, but what interested him were racing cars. He apprenticed by building and racing motor tricycles. Very quickly, he was designing new ones, developing them and at the age of 19, he built his first car. Discovered by his talent among manufacturers, after several alliances and collaborations, especially with the Alsatian company De Dietrich, Ettore Bugatti settled in Alsace and developed his industry there. He somehow survived the economic hardships of the two world wars, the chaos of the 1930s.

A man in the image of the historic factory of Alsace

Cars and a man in the image of the historic factory in Molsheim (Bas-Rhin). A place where we have a reflex to whisper because it is elegant and where we are still welcome to anyone who buys the car. Private lounge, space for design, manufacturing, reception… A perfect for those who want to “understand the work of Ettore Bugatti”, explains an article Night in Paris in 1929.

“Perhaps you have visited the factory in Molsheim, which cannot be compared to any other factory in the world, the newspaper assures. The harmony that governs its creation, the state of mind that reigns there, and where, in the smallest things, we feel the intervention of the “boss”, his search for order, meticulous cleanliness , intense mechanical precision that, in short, probity pushed to its highest point. »

He was not yet 20 years old when he was celebrated in the press. as The Gazette dello Sport in 1921, as reported in a 1923 newspaper Economic and financial information. It is written that it is, “in the automotive world, universally recognized”. Surprised, he “studied all the different types of machines, examined them, looked at their faults, thought of changes, saw in his imagination a perfect car”, added The newspaper. But it was with the Bugatti Type 35, at the beginning of the 20th century, that marked its first commercial success but also the competition of a racing car with 2,000 victories. He sold the car to wealthy private racers. This is the only one at the time that can run on the circuit or on the road. With this, he signed the automotive adventure. Even today, just like the lost lines of the Chiron or the Veyron, we still know the stroke of genius of Ettore Bugatti, but also of his son Jean who later became his partner, before his death in a terrible accident. . The strength of the line, the precision of the curves, the mechanical precision remain.

Passionate about speed, he lives with the times but always has a concern for the future and worries about a certain way of life. Curious, for example, he built an electric car in 1931, the Type 56, a two-seater coupe originally designed only to move around the factory and around his house. Model that he ended up making to insult his customers. “Is it because he didn’t learn mechanics that he is a genius mechanic?, wondered in his columns. Gallic in June 1927. Is it because he seems to be a pure amateur guided only by his imagination and the constant search for originality that he is considered one of the best balanced minds now moving the industry? »

A vision, he also demands: if an everyday object does not suit him, he improves or makes it. “A technical product is only perfect if it is also perfect from an aesthetic point of view,” recalls the house of Bugatti on its website. This is how he made a spaghetti-making machine with a steering wheel, made a personal arrangement of a table service and had his own cutlery made with his initials EB. He also made surgical instruments for a friend, a professor at the Strasbourg hospital, shoes with five feet, a chicken coop on wheels, “automatic door handles, a fishing rod with an advanced system”, further details of the newspaper. dawnAugust 23, 1947.

“At first glance, this man is a constant paradox, because he puts art in the materiality of things, because he knows the idea born in his imagination with the precision of an optician” , analysis. Gallic. The editor of the article, Georges Bruni, highlighted Ettore Bugatti’s “amazing sense of the possible”, “an amazing power of anticipation” continuing: “he found before looking. He guesses before he checks. He has the quick thing, its virtues, its weaknesses. »

This is how, even today, this genius inventor and builder keeps the dream alive. When he died at the age of 66 on August 21, 1947, Ettore Bugatti, who became French late in his life, left the imprint of a legend, with more than a thousand patents for inventions. An imprint of the automotive legend remembered, according to the newspaper dawn in a chronicle published the day after his death, another legend, that of Henry Ford: “Both of them were not content with signing their cars, and their activity was more than the automotive field alone. They invented everything. Inventions yes, but always with style.

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