Part 2 - A Bugatti in your garage? Some good reasons to having one
Ettore Bugatti, a visionary engineer, founded Bugatti and created iconic vehicles. His 900+ patented designs included the distinctive Bugatti radiator grille, symbolizing the brand's prestige. Bugatti's attention to design details continues to captivate.
21 May 2023 4 min read 5 images
Photo credit: Bugatti Newsroom, RM Sotheby's, Wheelsage
Ettore Bugatti was a man of many talents and a true artist in every sense of the word. He came from a family of artists and designers, with his father Carlo creating magnificent furniture and his brother Rembrandt being a talented sculptor. Ettore's own talent for engineering and design led him to create the Bugatti marque, which produced some of the most innovative and striking vehicles of the time. Bugatti was not only a visionary but also a tenacious engineer who never shied away from a challenge. He moved to Alsace at the age of 29, where he founded his own company to manufacture automobiles, ultimately becoming the Bugatti marque. He patented over nine hundred designs, which ranged from cars to airplanes, boats to trains.
Of all industrial products, none equals the automobile in its power to capitalize on the concept of brand. When Ettore Bugatti, at the age of just sixteen, began designing a tricycle with an engine for Prinetti & Stucchi, he immediately realized that the horse-drawn coach would not be the right point of reference for the construction of the new forms of transport he had in mind. Only a few years later, in 1903, he introduced a tubular steel chassis.
The grille of the first victory: The 1920 Type 13 Brescia model
That lowered the vehicle’s center of gravity as far as possible. The outcome was the car built for the Paris-Madrid road race. However, it was so low-slung and conceptually advanced with respect to the vehicles of the other daredevil participants that it was disqualified by the organizers, who considered it dangerous! before long, the cars produced by the different manufacturers began to develop a particular look that made them identifiable. Even the famous Marne Taxis used by the French army to ferry soldiers out to the front line to stop the German advance are immediately recognizable as Renaults on account of the two characteristic radiators on either side of the engine. Yet technical solutions were soon not enough to distinguish the growing number of new auto brands that appeared on the market.
The classic Bugatti radiator that became a genuine trademark over time
As well as the name, a crest or a particular color, what was required was something that stood out, an unmistakable signature that spoke for the marque. An artist at heart, Ettore realised that the right solution had to coincide with what people focus on when looking at a car: the nose. And that is how the emblematic Bugatti radiator came into being: a horseshoe-like feature of universally acclaimed refinement. The reassuringly harmonious shape of that deeply arched grille derives from one of the two arches supporting the steps leading up to the entrance of the Town Hall in Molsheim, the town where Bugatti vehicles were constructed.
In Bugatti's 1991 rebirth, the front end of the EB110 is elegantly and gracefully reminiscent of the radiators of the 1930s
This leads us to a couple of considerations, the first of which concerns the strength of the image conjured up by the product. Bugatti was the epitome of prestige and excellence, and it came more naturally to adopt a thoroughbred horseshoe than an Alsace-style arch. by the same token, over the years other manufacturers have also made good use of powerful emblems: the Parthenon for Rolls Royce, the clover leaf for Alfa Romeo, the quadrants of the BMW, even the Porsche logo – in different periods they have all conveyed the relative marque’s message in incredibly eloquent terms, becoming emblems with that clients are happy to identify. One of the great strengths of Bugatti has always been its skill in communicating through design details. The Bugatti nose is a case in point: an unmistakable feature that never loses its power to fascinate.
When Bugatti was bought by the Volkswagen Group, the brand's hallmark is back in the radiator grille