Ettore Bugatti, a visionary at the tender age of 28, established his factory in Molsheim in 1909.
It was here, within the confines of a former dye works, that the wheels of innovation began turning. Ettore’s inaugural creation, the Type 13, marked the genesis of a legendary journey.
The Iconic Château Saint Jean: A Beacon of Elegance
In 1928, Ettore made an indelible mark by acquiring the iconic Château Saint Jean. This majestic estate, with its timeless charm, became a haven for esteemed guests, customers, racing legends, and luminaries. Over the decades, the château’s allure has remained undiminished, and it still serves as the exclusive venue for the meticulous hand-assembly of every modern Bugatti hypersports car.
The 40th-anniversary edition of the Bugatti Festival in Molsheim witnessed grandeur on an unprecedented scale. The festivities commenced with a tradition deeply rooted in history: a visit to the final resting place of Ettore Bugatti at Dorlisheim Cemetery. However, this event transcends mere homage; it pays tribute to Ettore’s enduring legacy.
Château Saint Jean: Breakfast Amidst History
The hallowed grounds of Château Saint Jean, still adorned with Ettore’s initials on its railings, welcomed Bugatti classic car owners and fervent Bugatti enthusiasts. A sumptuous breakfast, graciously hosted by the Bugatti brand, ushered in the weekend’s festivities.
The château’s interiors played host to a curated exhibition showcasing the exquisite furniture of Carlo Bugatti and the captivating sculptures of Rembrandt Bugatti. These artistic treasures, courtesy of Perridon Holdings exclusively for this occasion, served as a testament to the profound influence of Ettore’s family on his automotive creations. Ettore’s belief, “Nothing is too beautiful,” resonates through these masterpieces.
Carlo’s furniture is an embodiment of audacious, flowing designs, meticulous attention to detail, and the use of the finest materials such as bronze, Italian walnut, and copper. Rembrandt’s sculptures, frozen in time, capture the raw vigour of a lion and the graceful poise of an elephant. These characteristics left an indelible mark on the design of Bugatti cars. The iconic Bugatti grille, inspired by Carlo’s belief in the perfection of an egg’s shape, stands as a testament to this influence. Ettore even paid a subtle tribute to Rembrandt by adorning the Bugatti Type 41 Royale with his renowned ‘Dancing Elephant’ sculpture as a unique hood ornament.
Bugatti: Sculpted for Driving Pleasure
The festival also featured an array of Grand Prix cars, including the Type 57G Tank, the centenary Type 32 Tank from 1923, the Type 35, and the Type 45/47. These classics exemplify Bugatti’s illustrious motorsport history. Additionally, a model of the Bolide, the modern track-only Bugatti hypersports car that made its debut at Le Mans in June, and an EB110, which laid the foundation for contemporary Bugatti hypersports cars in the 90s, graced the event.
While Bugatti automobiles draw inspiration from sculpture, they are engineered for exhilarating drives. From the elegant Type 57C Stelvio with Gangloff bodywork to modern icons like the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse World Record Edition and the Chiron Super Sport, Bugatti cars beckon enthusiasts to embrace the thrill of the road. The roar of their revolutionary engines echoed through the Château’s walls as they embarked on a tour along the Alsace Wine Route. This enchanting journey traversed the heart of Europe’s rich viticultural heritage, revealing charming Alsatian towns with half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets.
A Day of Enthusiastic Gatherings and Exhibition
The picturesque village of Ribeauvillé hosted a convivial lunch for the owners, surrounded by the classic and modern Bugatti cars. As the cars journeyed back to Molsheim, they graced the Parc des Jésuites with their presence, drawing crowds of awe-struck visitors. The exhibition showcased the enduring admiration for the Bugatti brand, resonating across Europe and beyond.
A unique highlight was the Bugatti Autorail, a luxury high-speed train conceived by Ettore himself, which revolutionized the French rail network. Its rare appearance outside La Cité du Train in Mulhouse captivated visitors, and the roaring engine offered a glimpse into its unmatched power and innovation.
The Bugatti Festival also witnessed the prestigious Bugatti vehicle awards, judged on condition, originality, elegance, and history. On Sunday, the winners received their well-deserved accolades, highlighting the enduring legacy of Bugatti.
Bugatti’s Power and Performance
As Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti Automobiles, aptly put it, “Through the gates of Château Saint Jean, amidst the winding roads of Alsace, and throughout the streets of Molsheim, Ettore Bugatti’s footprints are everywhere.” The Festival is more than an event; it’s a celebration of passion, legacy, and an unwavering pursuit of perfection. Molsheim isn’t just a place; it’s where the spirit of Bugatti thrives, a testament to the enduring legacy of an automotive icon. Each year, Bugatti and its ardent customers eagerly participate in this celebration, organized by their friends, the Enthousiastes Bugatti Alsace.
On Sunday morning, Bugatti Festival visitors were treated to a remarkable display of Bugatti’s prowess as the cars took to the closed roads of Molsheim. Unfettered by speed limits or traffic, it was a spectacle showcasing Ettore’s unparalleled engineering genius. Adding charm to the roadshow were the Baby Bugatti II models, all-electric modern-day replicas inspired by the Type 35, originally crafted by Ettore for his son Roland.
A Grand Finale: Gala Lunch and Awards Ceremony
The Festival culminated in a gala lunch and an awards ceremony, featuring the prestigious Grand Prix Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. award, bestowed upon a Type 35C with a rich racing heritage. This car symbolized the motorsport heroics that inspired the track-focused Bolide.
Several other accolades were also conferred, including the Trophée Lalique, which recognised the Type 49 Coupé de Weymann, and the Trophée de la Fondation Bugatti, celebrating the Type 57C Stelvio par Gangloff. The Trophée Cul Pointu paid tribute to Bugatti Pilote Officiel, Andy Wallace, an endurance racing legend who set the world speed record in a Chiron in 2019, breaking the 300mph barrier.
Four decades after its inception and over a century since Ettore Bugatti’s founding of his brand in Molsheim, the bond between Alsace and Bugatti remains unbreakable. Ettore’s guiding principles continue to inspire Bugatti, making Molsheim not just a location but the very heart of the Bugatti legacy.