Ettore Bugatti

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Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti
A black and white photograph of Ettore Bugatti taken in 1932
Ettore Bugatti (1932)
Born (1881-09-15)September 15, 1881
Milan, Italy
Died August 21, 1947(1947-08-21) (aged 65)
Paris, France
Resting place
Dorlisheim, France
Citizenship France (naturalized)
Occupation Automotive engineer
Years active 1898–1947
Employer Automobiles E. Bugatti (founder)

Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti (15 September 1881 – 21 August 1947) was an Italian-born and French naturalized citizen automobile designer and manufacturer.


Ettore was from a notably artistic family with its origin in Milan. He was the elder son of Carlo Bugatti (1856–1940), an important Art Nouveau furniture and jewellery designer, and his wife Teresa Lorioli. His younger brother was a renowned animal sculptor, Rembrandt Bugatti (1884–1916). His aunt, Luigia Bugatti, was the wife of the painter Giovanni Segantini. His paternal grandfather, Giovanni Luigi Bugatti, was an architect and sculptor.

Early career[edit]

Before founding his eponymous automobile manufacturing company Automobiles E. Bugatti, Ettore Bugatti designed a number of engines and vehicles for others. Prinetti & Stucchi produced his 1898 Type 1. From 1902 through 1904, De Dietrich built his Type 3/4 and Type 5/6/7 under the De Dietrich-Bugatti marque. In 1907, Bugatti became an employee of Deutz Gasmotoren Fabrik, where he designed the Type 8/9.

Bugatti developed the Type 2 in 1900 and 1901, respectively. He developed the Type 5 in 1903. While employed at Deutz, Bugatti built the Type 10 in the basement of his home. In 1913, Bugatti designed a small car for Peugeot, the Type 19 Bébé.

Automobiles E. Bugatti[edit]

Although born in Italy, Bugatti established his eponymous automobile company, Automobiles E. Bugatti, in 1909 in the then German town of Molsheim in the Alsace region of what is now France. Automobiles E. Bugatti was known for some of the fastest, most luxurious, and technologically advanced road cars of its day. Exceptional engineering led to success in early Grand Prix motor racing, a Bugatti being driven to victory in the first Monaco Grand Prix.

Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix

While displaced from his home in Alsace by World War I, Bugatti designed airplane engines, notably the somewhat baroque 16-cylinder U-16 which was never built in any large number and was only installed in a very few aircraft.[1][2] Between the wars Ettore Bugatti designed a successful motorized railcar dubbed the Autorail Bugatti, and an airplane, the Model 100, which never flew.

Ettore Bugatti's son, Jean Bugatti, was killed on 11 August 1939 at the age of 30 while testing a Bugatti Type 57 tank-bodied race car near the Molsheim factory. After that, the company's fortunes began to decline. World War II 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.

Bugatti's concept of customer relations was somewhat eccentric. To a Bugatti owner who complained that his car was difficult to start on cold mornings, he is said to have retorted, "Sir! If you can afford a Type 35, you can surely afford a heated garage!"[3]


Ettore Bugatti was buried in the Bugatti family plot at the municipal cemetery in Dorlisheim near Molsheim in the Bas-Rhin département of the Alsace region of France.


  1. ^ Jane’s fighting aircraft of WWI, originally published by Jane’s Publishing Company, 1919, re-printed by Studio Editions Ltd, London, 1990, pps 275-277, ISBN 1-85170-347-0
  2. ^ "the Bugatti revue: Bugatti License Aircraft Engines". Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  3. ^ Ken Purdy, "The Bugatti," Boy's Life, Jan 1966, pg 13