The Bugatti company was established by Ettore Bugatti in Molsheim, near Strasbourg in 1909 and had a tradition of racing throughout its history. The firm dominated the Grand Prix world in the late 1920s and early 1930s and, when it could no longer compete with the German teams which were funded by the Nazi government, it turned to Le Mans and won the French classic in 1937 and 1939. After the German invasion of France Bugatti, faced with having his factory confiscated by the Germans, agreed to sell it to them. He kept a design bureau going in Paris and planned to produce small cars for the post-war era. After the war his factory was seized by the French government and it took over a year for Bugatti to have them returned to him. Bugatti died in 1947 and the company passed to his son Roland, but there was no money available for racing and it was not until 1955, by which time the firm was on its last legs, that Bugatti tried to go racing one last time, hiring Gioacchino Colombo from Maserati. He built the mid-engined Bugatti 251 for the 2.5-liter formula. Maurice Trintignant drove one of the cars at the French GP that year but it was not competitive and was not seen again.
The Bugatti company stopped producing cars soon afterwards but went on manufacturing aircraft parts until it was sold to Hispano-Suiza in 1963. It was later taken over by the Messier company.