On Bugatti’s official website, TRADITION is placed in the most prominent position. A timeline spanning two centuries records every important event about Bugatti, but there are some blank years on this long timeline. These blank years are the ill-fated fate of the Bugatti brand, and those that have been remembered are a series of great moments in the history of the automobile industry. In the place where Bugatti was born, we will use museums and factories to find the heritage of this brand for a century.
● The quiet speed and old art in the museum
In the small town of Mulhouse in eastern France, the French National Automobile Museum Musée National de l’automobile is located here, and it has a better known name-Bugatti Automobile Museum. Among the more than 500 vehicles in the collection, more than two-thirds are Bugatti of various models. To understand the history of Bugatti, this is the place to be.
The Bugatti Automobile Museum was formerly the personal car collection museum of the Schlumpf brothers. The two brothers are Swiss, born in Italy, and operate a textile business in France. Bugatti’s founder, Ettori Bugatti, was also born in Italy, and later founded Bugatti in France. Perhaps due to the almost same life and cultural background, the Schlumpf brothers love Bugatti cars and began to collect various models of Bugatti cars when their careers were in full swing. In the 1950s, new car design trends swept the European automobile industry. People sold vintage cars from the 1920s and 1930s and replaced them with new-age streamlined cars. At this time, the Schlumpf brothers bought almost all the Bugatti cars worth collecting at a low price. . Today, these cars have become rare treasures, and some are even the only orphans in the world.
Bugatti cars are precious, mostly because of the bumpy fate of this brand. From the establishment of the factory in 1909 to the cessation of production in 1956, fewer than 8,000 cars drove out of the Bugatti factory, so every Bugatti in this museum is almost a limited edition of 1/8000. What’s more rare is that each of these 8,000 Bugattis is a masterpiece of the perfect combination of mechanics and art.
● The color of the car
In the early European car races, each country had its own main color, and this tradition has been retained to this day. The most famous of these are the four racing powers: German Silver Arrow, British Racing Green, French Racing Blue and Italian Red Devils. For the history of racing colors, you can refer to the above four books. This set of books uses color as a clue to introduce the history of motor sports in these four countries in depth. After reading these four books, you will have a deeper understanding of the entire history of motorsport.
Every Bugatti’s car is infused with Ettori Bugatti’s persistent pursuit of cars. Less than 20 years old, Bugatti showed his footing in the auto industry and completed the design of the first car. In 1909, Ettore Bugatti founded his own automobile company-Automobiles E. Bugatti in Molsheim, France, and began to produce Bugatti cars.
He is an engineer who is good at designing and manufacturing high-performance engines, while focusing on lightweight and aerodynamics. He often said: weight was the enemy, and ridiculed that Bentley was the fastest truck in the world (at that time Bentley was Bugatti’s biggest competitor on the track). The high-performance engine and lightweight body not only allowed Bugatti to repeatedly break speed records, but also allowed his car to take the lead on the track. He is also an artist, born in an artistic family in Milan, his father is a furniture and jewelry designer. He used the artistic talents given to him by his family in his car design to create noble and luxurious large cars. Every Bugatti car is a galloping artwork.
Bugatti’s mechanical and artistic attainments have helped him create a near-perfect car, but Bugatti cannot avoid a series of bad luck. In 1939, Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean Bugatti, died unexpectedly in a new car testing accident. Bugatti was hit hard and he should have been Bugatti’s successor. Not only that, Molsheim, where the Bugatti factory is located, is located in the Alsace region of eastern France, bordering Germany. Since ancient times, this has been an eventful place that has been conquered by Germany and France. After the outbreak of World War II, German cavalry occupied Alsace, Bugatti lost the factory in Molsheim, Ettore Bugatti had to move to near Paris to build a new factory to continue the development of Bugatti cars.
After the end of World War II, the whole of Europe entered into a rejuvenation and reconstruction. This should be the beginning of everything. However, the cloud that over Bugatti did not dissipate, but became more dignified. On August 21, 1947, Ettore Bugatti passed away. In the following years, Bugatti Automobile also closed its business. Since then, Bugatti has changed hands several times, and although there have been several signs of revival, they are all short-lived. The closest to success was Italian businessman Romano Artioli, who bought the Bugatti brand in 1987 and founded the Bugatti Automobile Company in Italy and launched the super sports car EB110. This is a super sports car that inherits the spirit of Bugatti and has Italian characteristics. It has 553 horsepower and a top speed of 343km/h. EB stands for Ettore Bugatti, 110 is to commemorate his 110th birthday, but this car is not able to turn the tide and save the Bugatti brand. The untimely EB110 just caught up with the weak economy in Europe and America, and the demand for super sports cars fell. In the end, only 139 units were produced.
Subsequently, Bugatti Automobile went through several equity transactions and was eventually acquired by the European car predator-Volkswagen in 1998. In the wealthy Volkswagen Group, Bugatti has ushered in new development opportunities.
● Molsheim’s revival and Bugatti’s future
In the Bugatti Museum shuttle between Bugatti of various ages, you can get three key words-speed, nobility, art, this is the history of Bugatti. Then there is the Molsheim Bugatti factory not far away, where there is Bugatti’s future.
This is the residence of Ettore Bugatti and the earliest factory of Bugatti. After Volkswagen took over, it moved the Bugatti headquarters back to the place where the brand was born, and built a new factory to produce the new era of Bugatti cars. During this time, Bugatti has released several concept cars, and finally released the Weihang that shocked the world in 2005. This car not only announces the rebirth of Bugatti, but also makes this brand re-landing on the throne of the king of speed.
Perhaps only in Volkswagen, Bugatti can regain its former glory, not only because of Volkswagen’s financial and technical strength, but also an indispensable figure-Ferdinand Piech, then president of Volkswagen. His persistent pursuit of machinery, desire for speed, and insights into luxury seem to coincide with Ettore Bugatti. Only he understands Bugatti’s speed, nobility, and art, and only he can recreate Bugatti.
The Bugatti factory has only more than 80 employees. The workers on the production line use their unique rhythm to assemble parts from all over the world into finished products. There is no intense production atmosphere in the factory, only attention to details. The W16 engine comes from Germany. It has 1,001 horsepower, or even 1,200 horsepower. The dual-clutch gearbox developed for the Veyron is specially supplied by the British racing company. This amazing powertrain must be inspected by the factory before it can be installed on the chassis. The carbon fiber monocoque cockpit was shipped here from Italy. In the end, these materials are combined to become a unique Weihang.
Oliver Cramm, head of Bugatti’s quality control department, also added that: Weihang’s assembly method is different from traditional cars. We have no “wedding” here (the process of combining the upper part of the body with the chassis system marks the birth of a car. Volkswagen Group internally calls it a wedding), Weihang is composed of three parts: the front cabin, the cockpit and the rear engine compartment.
After a Weihang is born, it has to go through a sacred baptism before it can be handed over to its ultimate owner. This is the job of Pierre-Henri Raphanel, the Bugatti Queen’s test driver. Each Weihang has to break the speed of 300km/h on a nearby airport runway before it is finally completed. 300km/h is just a normal speed for Pierre-Henri. He once drove the Weihang SS to set a world record of 431km/h.
Pierre-Henri took the other people back and forth around the factory a few times. Everyone’s expressions, facial features and facial muscles showed excitement, horror, surprise, and pleasure at the same time after getting off the car. This is an indescribable expression. The mental activity behind it is harder to figure out. Only by getting in the car, can you experience their mood.
One of Pierre-Henri’s daily tasks is to drive Weihang with passengers from all over the world around the factory. Most of the passengers sitting in the co-pilot are customers who order Weihang. This is a very easy job for him. After coming out of the factory and quickly on the highway, Pierre-Henri couldn’t wait to demonstrate how Weihang’s dual-clutch gearbox works. “The gear changes are quick and smooth. This is the best gearbox in the world.” He praised this gearbox more than once.
Then he turned his attention to the engine, “Look, there are 1001 horsepower here, and the current speed is 110km/h, which only uses less than 200 horsepower.” He pointed to the unique horsepower meter on the dashboard. Then he slowed down, stepped on the accelerator deeply, and then suddenly released the accelerator. “Hey, listen to this wonderful sound.” It takes about 7 seconds for Weihang to accelerate from a standstill to 200km/h. This car accelerates fast, but it also has good comfort. Even if it is galloping at a speed close to 200km/h, there is no obvious bump in the car.
The design requirement of Weihang is to be able to maintain super-high-speed cruising in daily driving, and this car not only needs to run fast, but also to drive it to the concert. It is said that this is a request made by Piëch. Perhaps we have always paid too much attention to the horsepower and speed of Weihang, while neglecting that it is actually a luxurious GT sports car. No matter from which point of view, Weihang is the pinnacle of the GT sports car. Speed, nobility and art, Weihang inherits the spirit of Bugatti.
If one day another car brand breaks Bugatti’s speed record, will Bugatti fight back immediately? Oliver talked about the difficulties of building a sports car with a speed of more than 400 kilometers per hour, and the conditions required to break the speed record, and finally he said the most important sentence: other brands cannot exceed the speed of Bugatti.
In fact, the record of 431km / h created by Bugatti Weihang SS has always attracted the eyes of other supercar manufacturers. Koenigsegg, McLaren, and SSC are all eager to try.It is said that Bugatti is already preparing a weapon for the challenge, and they are likely to have prepared a 1600 horsepower Weihang.Although there is no trace in the Bugatti factory, I believe that a new world record will be born soon.Because it is Bugatti’s innate instinct to break the speed limit.