AUGUST 30, 1999
...and in Hungary
IT has emerged that Volkswagen's board member for automotive engineering Dr. Martin Winterkorn was a guest in the F1 paddock at the recent Hungarian Grand Prix. There have been rumors for some time that Volkswagen wants to get involved in F1 within five years to promote one of its top end brands. VW owns the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Horch, Lamborghini and Bugatti brands and we have heard suggestions that the obvious brand choice for F1 would not be Audi - as has been rumored in the past - but rather Bugatti, which has a strong tradition in motor racing and the same kind of mystique that is enjoyed by Ferrari. The Bugatti company was established in 1909 in Molsheim, near Strasbourg, close to the German border in eastern France. Ettore Bugatti was a racer and many of his employees were retired racing drivers. His racing cars dominated the Grand Prix world in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
In the late 1930s Bugatti did not have the budget to compete with the German teams which were funded by the Nazi government and so he turned his attention to Le Mans and his sportscars won the classic endurance race in 1937 and 1939. Bugatti died in 1947 and his car company survived him by only a few years. The name was revived in the late 1980s by Italian businessman Romano Artioli who began building supercars at a factory near Modena, in Italy. The company ran into trouble in 1995 and was closed down and the rights to the Bugatti name were sold to Volkswagen last year.
In June it was revealed that Bugatti had bought land near the old Bugatti factory in Molsheim, including the old Bugatti family home, the Chateau St. Jean.
Dr. Robert Buchelhofer of the Volkswagen marketing department recently described Bugatti as "a highly emotional car, a brand living in the light of its successful history" and said that strengthening the historical links would strengthen the brand."
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