The father of the EB110 makes a pilgrimage to Bugatti's revived home for the first time.
The Bugatti Chiron (and the Veyron before it) wouldn't be here if not for the patronage of the Volkswagen Group. But the entire marque might still be sitting in the proverbial dustbin of history if not for this man, who – almost unbelievably – just visited Bugatti's home in France for the very first time.
That man is Romano Artioli, the Italian automotive entrepreneur who in the late 1980s and early 90s, acquired the rights to the marque, built a state-of-the-art new factory, and launched the EB110 that put Bugatti back on the map.
Without his intrepid efforts, Volkswagen might never have come to possess the marque and give birth to the sixteen-cylinder hypercars that propelled the highest reaches of the automotive market into the million-dollar, record-shattering territory it occupies today.
Given the pivotal role Artioli played in reviving the marque, it's hard to believe he'd never been to Molsheim – the town in Alsace where Ettore Bugatti established his home and factory, and to which VW returned the marque after taking it over in 1998. But despite its roots, Artioli re-established the marque in Italy, the country of his and Ettore Bugatti's birth.
Romano built his factory in Modena (not far from Ferrari and Maserati), eventually acquiring Lotus as well. And at no point did he make pilgrimage back to Bugatti's once and future home... until last week, when he toured the new factory and Ettore's original Chateau, and took a new Chiron for a spin.
"I'm touched and humbled to have been received here in such a welcoming manner," said Artioli, now 86 years old. "I feel proud of the acknowledgement of my role in the company's history, of having contributed my part to such an outstanding and legendary brand like Bugatti."