They’re merely British, German, and French.

photographer unknown

Let’s start with some obscure history. The town of Molsheim was German from its founding until someone in France got angry and annexed it in 1648, then the Prussians snatched it back from 1871 to 1919. Mr. Ettore Bugatti, Italian-born French citizen officially set up shop here in 1909, making his company founded in Germany, although historically, the town is as French as it is German.

The company made a name for itself with models such as the Type 13 Brescia, Peugeot Bébé (designed by Ettore Bugatti), Type 41 Royale, Type 57 Atalante, and of course the Type 35, one of the most successful and legendary race cars of all time. The company was known for its quality: all models were incredibly fast and luxurious for their time. Their slogan was Le Pur Sang des Automobiles, comparing it to a refined racehorse.

Difficulties during World War II and Ettore’s fading mental health leading to his death in 1947 killed the company. There were a series of revivals, some successful, some not: starting with the Type 101 and 251 in the mid 1950s. In 1987, it was temporarily revived by an Italian. It went down after 8 years. In 1998 the name was acquired by a certain large German company and exists to this day, though there are still some who claim it’s still a French car. (They’re wrong.) Nonetheless the connections to these three countries persist.

So what is Bugatti?

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Is it really French? Maybe. Is it German? Not really. Is it Italian? Kinda sorta... it’s a true hybrid.

poster by georges hamel

But maybe nationality doesn’t have anything to do with it. Maybe it’s truly European because it was the finest automobile Europe had to offer.