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January 15, 1909 – Jean Bugatti is born

Gianroberto Bugatti was born in Germany on this day in 1909, the same year his father Ettore founded Automobiles E. Bugatti. By his early 20s, Jean, as he had become known, was making quite the impact at his father’s company. At 23, he led the design of the Bugatti Type 41 Royale. He later designed four separate bodies for the Type 57, often regarded as one of Bugatti’s finest touring models. 

1936 Bugatti Type 57G Tank at the 1937 Le Mans which was driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist, the type of car Jean was killed in. Top: Jean Bugatti standing next to the Royale Esders Roadster prototype in 1932

It was, unfortunately, his love of the automobile that would cause his death. On August 11, 1939, Jean died test driving a Type 57 tank-bodied car that had won a Le Mans race. He lost control of the vehicle after hitting a cyclist who had snuck onto the test track, resulting in a devastating impact with a tree.

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