January 15, 1939 – Jean Bugatti is killed during test drive

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


1936 Bugatti Type 57G Tank at the1937 Le Mans which was driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist, the type of car Jean was killed in.

It was, unfortunately, his love of the automobile that would cause his death. On this day in 1939, at the age of 30, Jean was killed while testing a Type 57 tank-bodied car that had won a Le Mans race. He lost control of the vehicle after hitting a cyclist who snuck onto the test track, resulting in a devastating impact with a tree.

Cover: Jean Bugatti standing next to the Royale Esders Roadster prototype in 1932





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