JUNE 22, 1998
And now Volkswagen bids for Bugatti
AS we predicted a month ago Volkswagen is trying to buy the rights to the Bugatti name from Italian businessman Romano Artioli. The move follows VW's purchase of Rolls Royce and Lamborghini and may result in the Bugatti name returning to Formula 1 racing in the future.
The name Bugatti is one of the most famous is motor racing history, the French firm having been the dominant force in the sport in the 1920s and early 1930s.
The Bugatti company stopped producing cars in the 1950s but went on manufacturing aircraft parts until sold to Hispano-Suiza in 1963. In the late 1980s Artioli bought the Bugatti name and logo and set up a factory at Campogalliano, outside Modena, in Italy, to build $350,000 supercars called the EB110. The new company built 150 cars and there was a half-hearted attempt at running cars in the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours. It is said that Artioli made more money from merchandising Bugatti-badged items than he did from the cars and in the summer of 1995 the car company hit trouble.
At the time Californian businessman Robert Wachtel said he wanted to buy Bugatti and put the name back into F1 but that project failed to get off the ground and the company folded. In April 1997 the factory was sold off although Artioli retains the rights to the Bugatti name and logo through his Luxembourg-based Bugatti International company.
Volkswagen's plans for Lamborghini and Bugatti have yet to be announced but it is conceivable that cars for both marques could be built at the Lamborghini factory at Sant'Agata Bolognese, which is about 15 miles from Campogalliano.
If Volkswagen is successful in buying the Bugatti name it would be a surprise if the firm did not try to cash in on Bugatti's Grand Prix history.
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