It makes sense that Ettore Bugatti, the son of a famous artist and carpenter, would be inspired in his youth by the newly invented automobile. By age 20, Ettore had not only created and raced his own vehicle, he also won the T2 prize at the 1901 International Exhibition in Milan, Italy. Contracted by the de Dietrich Company, Ettore moved to Molsheim in the Alsace region of France where afterward he established his automobile company, Bugatti, in 1909. Two years later Bugatti's racing history took off with success at the French Grand Prix.
During WW1 Bugatti was commissioned by the French and US Armies to build airplane engines, linking their legacy with flight. In the 1920s Bugatti came out with models known for their distinctive shape, such as the Tank and the Model 29/30 aka the Cigar. But the most infamous was the Royale, for its luxuriousness caused Bugatti a financial headache, further intensified by the onset of the Great Depression.
Things started to look up with wins at Le Mans in 1937 and 1939, driven by Jean Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron. However, on August 11, 1939 Ettore's son Jean was killed in an accident while test driving. The US entering into WW2 worsened Bugatti financially and when Ettore passed away in 1947, the company was at a loss. Even after revival attempts by Roland, Ettore's other son, the plant ceased production in 1956 and sold to Hispano-Suiza in 1963.
Resurrected in 1987 by Romano Artioli's acquisition, Bugatti moved headquarters to Campogalliano, Italy near Modena, home of greats Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati. In honor of what would have been Ettore's 110^th birthday, the EB 110 was released on September 15, 1991. Only, Artioli went bankrupt in 1995. Dauer Racing of Germany then took on the EB 110. Volkswagen bought Bugatti in 1998 and has since brought out the 18.3 Chiron two-seater limousine, the 18-cylinder EB 218, and most notably the Veyron, considered one of the fastest cars in the world, clocked at 267mph in a 2012 run.