Jean Bugatti – the Stylist
Like his father Ettore, Gianoberto Mario Carlo Bugatti, named Jean, was a visionary, far ahead of his time. Ettore’s eldest son was a gifted car designer with a rare feel for proportions and aerodynamics. From the late 1920s onwards, he influenced the development of the company with his own stylistic ideas and designs, before assuming responsibility for management in 1936 at the age of 27.
A rich heritage
Jean was responsible for creating numerous classics for the legendary brand. With his pioneering designs for bodies, engines and chassis, he created some extraordinary vehicles until his tragic death in an accident in 1939, securing his place as a visionary artist in the history of the automobile. Like the company itself, Jean would have been 110 years old this year.
Jean Bugatti’s most beautiful and famous design is the Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupé – perhaps the greatest of BUGATTI’s legends.
Already at the time, its body was spectacularly eye-catching and unique. Its standout design feature is the protruding dorsal seam, which runs like a razor-sharp fin vertically from the hinge in the split bonnet through to the rear end.
The four Atlantics
Only four of the labour-intensive, handcrafted Atlantics were ever made. Three were sold to clients. Captivated by the grace and sophistication of his creation, Jean Bugatti had the second Atlantic built for his own personal use, finishing it in a deep black.
The Rothschild Atlantic 57 374
The first model was built in 1936 for British banker Victor Rothschild – still without a compressor, in greyish blue. Today, the car is known as the Rothschild Atlantic with the number 57 374.
The Holzschuh Atlantic 57 473
The third Atlantic to be built, number 57 473 was delivered in October 1936 to Frenchman Jacques Holzschuh. The car’s second owner, a collector, had a fatal accident at a level crossing, almost completely destroying the car. Decades later, the Atlantic underwent a complex restoration, although the motor could not be saved.
The Pope Atlantic 57 591
Fashion designer Ralph Lauren owns the last Atlantic to be made. Carrying the number 57 591, the car was first delivered in May 1938 to Englishman R.B. Pope.
The three remaining Atlantics are among the world’s most expensive and desirable classic cars. The whereabouts of Jean Bugatti’s personal “La Voiture Noire” are still unknown – the automotive equivalent of the Amber Room. It is thought the car disappeared during the Second World War, sent to a safe region before the German troops invaded Alsace. Its disappearance more than 80 years ago remains the biggest mystery in BUGATTI’s fabled history. Today, “La Voiture Noire” lives on as a myth.
With the new “La Voiture Noire”, BUGATTI has created a car that takes up that legend and carries it forward to the present day. In its exclusiveness, style, quality and performance, “La Voiture Noire” is an unprecedented creation that continues Jean Bugatti’s legacy in striving for unprecedented elegance and technical perfection.