When we think of Bugatti today, we often flip to the most recent Young Money video or some generic rap reference to the fastest production car in the world. Bugattis have become the latest luxury obsession. Praised for expense and rarity, often while the French brand’s record-breaking heritage goes ignored, the Veyron is the latest hip-hop ride obsession. There’s much more than Bugatti Boyz (we see you Diddy) to Bugatti History, so we wanted to walk you through the history of Bugatti’s best cars of all time.
Bugatti has been doing this supercar thing for nearly a century.
It all started in 1924 when Ettore Bugatti debuted his racing masterpiece, the bright blue Type 35. It was an instant marvel, dominating the race track. The little blue machine was both aerodynamic and aesthetically pleasing. This was a time when winning a race on Sunday meant selling on Monday, a car manufacturer’s success on the racetrack was the ultimate advertising. Track record directly affected your public sales. To further solidify its high profile, Bugatti ingeniously offered a GP model, which owners could race on the weekend and drive to work during to the week. This increased sales tenfold, as they could be sold at higher prices to wealthy, ambitious individuals and when these private Bugattis won races it was free advertising for the Bugatti team. This was a great strategy unique to the pioneering Bugatti camp. And while many racecars of the era either did not survive the race life or were scrapped during wartime, people soon realized the importance of the very special Type 35 as a testament to the unrivaled quality and unique technology.
Then there’s the Bugatti Royale, its name says it all. Only six of these 15-foot masterpieces were ever built, although Ettore Bugatti originally planned to build 25 of these impressive machines and sell them to royalty. Sadly, they weren't trying to blow money during the Great Depression. Three of the six Royales remained in Ettore's personal collection, preserved in a garage on his estate, and surviving WWII behind a protective wall. The car’s massive front-end makes room for an enormous 12.7-liter engine originally meant for an aircraft. To this day, it's one of the largest engines ever fitted for a car, making this one of the biggest and most highly sought after automobiles ever created. All of the remaining Royale engines were later used for high-speed Bugatti railcars.
The 1930's were a rough time to be producing outrageous luxury performance automobiles, extreme social unrest, great depressions, and war providing an unbalanced landscape for sales. Needless to say Bugatti sales suffered an extreme decrease from 1930 to 1933 and the factory was completely shut down in 1934. As the Bugatti family survived the turbulent thirties, it became apparent that the company needed to change their ways. Ettore's young and talented son, Jean, came up with a solution to the problem — instead of producing several different models that were hardly selling, they needed one single design to serve all purposes. Jean headed the new project as he oversaw the entire new design of the Type 57. Ettore left his son completely in charge of the new direction of his company.