Jean Bugatti was born on this day in 1909, shortly before his father founded the legendary marque
Any working parent would likely struggle to imagine starting a new company and giving birth to a new baby in the same year. But that's just what Ettore Bugatti did in 1909. Now 110 years later, the company that bears his legacy is celebrating both its own birthday and that of its scion.
Early in 1909 the Bugattis were living in Cologne, where Ettore worked at engine manufacturer Deutz AG – just as Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach did before him. He and his wife Barbara welcomed their first son on January 15 and left Cologne shortly thereafter.
In the Alsatian town of Molsheim (then still part of France), Ettore signed the lease on a disused dye works that would become the headquarters of the famous automaker, where young Gianoberto Carlo Rembrandt Ettore Bugatti grew up. Jean (as he preferred to be called) was only 27 when he took the reins from his father and went on to design some of the company's most legendary models – including the highly coveted Type 57 SC Atlantic.
A few short years later, Jean was test-driving another Type 57 on the roads near the factory when a cyclist cut across the road.
Bugatti's scion swerved to avoid the cyclist and crashed into a tree. The accident claimed Jean's life, leaving Ettore to retake the helm of his company. But the outbreak of WWII put everything on hiatus, and the company never fully recovered. Not until it was revived by Romano Artioli in 1987 to produce the EB110, before the Volkswagen Group acquired the marque, returned it to its former home in Molsheim, and gave birth to the Veyron and the Chiron after it.
The rest, as they say, is history. And it's quite a long one for the company this year to be celebrating.