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Bugatti and the Mille Miglia

Updated on February 20, 2012
Bugatti in Mille Miglia 2007
Bugatti in Mille Miglia 2007 | Source

The original Bugatti company was legendary for producing some of the finest, fastest, and most exclusive cars in the world, only beginning to falter when their vehicles simply became too luxurious and pricy for Europeans reeling from the economic crisis that occurred during World War II. At one point they had actually created a limited series of cars to market to royalty, and found that even royalty could scarcely afford such privileges.

As such, the Bugatti has always been an important part of the Mille Miglia endurance race… however, many have argued that that’s only because every sport needs an underdog. The fact is that, throughout the history of the race, the Bugattis have rarely done very well.

1930 Bugatti Type 43
1930 Bugatti Type 43 | Source

Ettore Bugatti’s own team participated in the Mille Miglia from 1927 to 1932, but would usually fail to take any of the top spots. In 1928, a Type 43 Bugatti did take the sixth place, but Bugatti would then fail to top or even meet that achievement in any of the years following in those original twenty four races. Bugatti has always remained a respected car brand, but many Mille Miglia fans simply believed the car to be out of its element in the thousand mile endurance race.

The general consensus was that the Bugatti simply wasn’t quite up to par with the Alfa Romeos and Ferraris that won the majority of those early races, and when the Mille Miglia was resurrected in 1982… Bugatti did little to prove its critics wrong…

Between 1982 and 2002, the Bugatti continued to fall well behind the top spots, with the races largely being dominated by BMWs, Alfa Romeos, Mercedes-Benzes and Ferraris.

2003 Bugatti wins Mille Miglia!
2003 Bugatti wins Mille Miglia! | Source

Until twenty one years later, in 2003, when the Bugatti finally established itself as Mille Miglia royalty by seizing first place with a 1923 T 23 Brescia driven by the Argentinean team of Carlos Sielecki and Juan Hervas who had held the lead in a vice like grip for the final hours of the race, defying all expectations and proving once and for all that the Bugatti wasn’t just here for a “participant” credit.

Mille Miglia 2009

And again, in 2009, Bugatti took the top spot with a 1927 Type 37 driven by Bruno and Carlo Ferrari, just barely beating out their rivals and team mates, the 2003 Bugatti winners Sielecki and Hervas, by two points. Sielecki and Hervas took second place in a 1926 Bugatti Type 35 A.

It is exactly because of the brand’s bad luck in the earliest races that their recent wins have been such a monumental piece of Mille Miglia history. For decades, Bugatti has been regarded in the same way as the kid on the football team who “has a lot of spirit”, so these two recent wins have served as the true Rudy story of the Mille Miglia.

It remains to be seen whether or not Bugatti can keep the momentum going and remain a serious contender in the coming Mille Miglias, but the fact remains that they’ve broken an unlucky streak dating back to 1927, and they’ve established themselves as more than the mere underdog of the race.

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    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 5 years ago

      I did not realize that the Bugatti did so poorly in the Mille Miglias. Great information. Thanks for sharing.