Bugatti - the Man and the Marque, by Jonathan Wood. Crowood Press. £50.
It’s easy to say “What, another one?” when particular subjects crop up in the motoring press. Bugatti, along with Ferrari, Bentley and Porsche, is one. Of these, all creators of cars bearing their own names, it is surely Bugatti who exerts the most personal fascination, and to rely on a book which gives no picture of the man would be to see only the outlines of the picture.
Jonathan Wood’s book supplies this picture in one of the most readable volumes of the year. The artistic background in which Ettore grew up is clearly shown to have affected his engineering philosophy, and the complex and less well chronicled early history of factory and family is laid out with scholarly detail. But Wood’s writing remains simple and concise, and the generous illustrations tie in closely with the text. When the unusual Deutz clutch mechanism crops up, for example, you need not look far for a drawing of it.
Wood’s admiration is obvious, but does not colour his assessment when Bugatti’s more doubtful judgments come up. His perhaps naive political stance during France’s industrial unrest in 1936, and the later conflicts with his more forward-looking son Jean are discussed unsentimentally. He concludes with the new EB110 supercar, but sensibly does not give too much space to this unrelated undertaking.
New pictures and information will make this a desirable purchase for those who already have a Bugatti shelf in their library; for those who don’t, writing this one largeish cheque could prove cost efficient. Can there be anything more to say on this remarkable man?