A consistent thread in Bugatti’s legend and just as integral to the brand’s story as any historic vehicle is the Château Saint Jean and the dedicated Bugatti team that work there. The house bought by Ettore Bugatti in 1928 welcomed the first employees of the new Bugatti era to the picturesque town of Molsheim in 2003 – it was the beginning of a fresh chapter for the brand, but also a new exciting journey for a select few.
When the unmatched Veyron 16.4, the first modern Bugatti was unveiled to the world in 2005, it was clear to see that the rebirth of Bugatti was underway at the marque’s historic home in Molsheim. For the brand to deliver this incomparable car and in the process create a completely new hyper sports car segment, Bugatti had to revive a forgotten gem – Château Saint Jean.The once-iconic Château, which no longer lived up to its glory days, was revitalised in 2003 along with the two Remises, which had to undergo a complete structural overhaul, and eventually, the Orangerie. Most crucial to Bugatti’s rebirth, however, was the construction of a brand-new Atelier that enabled the production of the much-awaited Veyron, and still hosts the hand assembly of each and every Bugatti hyper sports car today.
The handful of people were entrusted to prepare Bugatti for its rebirth. Starting from scratch, and with a blank page, the first Bugatti team members in Molsheim were assigned the task of preparing the brand and its home for the production of a car that would forever change the fate of the performance car world.
For Patrick Burk, Jean-Luc Furst, Didier Arbogast, Francis Jund, Loic Hoenig and Ludovic Herbez, the Château Saint Jean was a familiar sight, an aging symbol of Bugatti’s history, first bought by Ettore Bugatti as a place to host lavish parties for customers and VIPs. In 2003, however, everything changed for them. The six men went from growing up in the surrounding areas, to becoming a fundamental part of maintaining the enduring legacy of Château Saint Jean.
Imbued with a sense of responsibility to the people of Molsheim, and the incomparable legacy that elevates Bugatti, the team poured their heart and soul into the revival of the location and the marque. Didier Arbogast and Loic Hoenig were at the core of this effort, leveraging their automotive background to develop the perfect production site and transform the Atelier from an empty space to a fully functional manufacturing facility ready to build and deliver the best performing series cars ever seen.
“The low wall between the Atelier and the Orangerie was crumbling, and I was asked to get rid of it. I fought so that it could remain in place and fixed it myself. This wall is a testimony to our history. At the time, it symbolized the passage from the past – the Château, Remises and Orangerie – to the future – the newly-built Atelier,” noted Patrick Burk, the very first employee in Molsheim, and now Head of Safety and Facility.
“Very few people are given the opportunity to experience the work we have done with Bugatti – in a hyper sports car, luxury environment, alongside such history,” added Ludovic Herbez, IT end user support Specialist.
Passion for Bugatti’s heritage is woven into the fabric of life in Molsheim. And the team share this emotion. “When I started, I was so immersed in Bugatti,” explained Head of Accounting, Jean-Luc Furst. “Everything about Bugatti appealed to me enormously. It was magical. I had the chance to work in the Château, which is just beautiful. I am honored to think that Bugatti is something that I helped create and grow.”
Twenty years on, as the Bugatti team in Molsheim now surpasses 140 people, that passion remains. Complete dedication goes into everything that they do, enabling an experience like no other for every Bugatti customer. “Bugatti is in my heart and in the hearts of a lot of people here, the team are always ready to go the extra mile – it is a big family,” said Head of Disposition, Francis Jund. This working atmosphere is something that is truly unique to Bugatti. “When the word Bugatti comes up in conversations, people’s eyes inevitably shine,” added Jund.
“I have worked with these cars for years, but when I watch them being driven, I am still blown away, it is just magnificent,” noted Loic Hoenig, After Sales technical support and training Expert. “The enthusiasm for Bugatti is limitless, and every time it reminds me that the cars we make are still as remarkable as 20 years ago. This is really not common.”
“Why am I still here 20 years later? Because of this extraordinary brand and its incomparable achievements. When you speak to the public about Bugatti, the love for the cars and the brand is just so obvious. It is a fantastic feeling.” These emotions of accomplishment run throughout, including with Tools and maintenance Technician, Didier Arbogast, “I have been lucky enough to be here in Molsheim with Bugatti since the start. You can only be proud when you have helped build a brand like we have.”
Now in 2023, Bugatti in Molsheim has embarked on an entirely new era, forging the next chapter of automotive history. For Burk, Furst, Arbogast, Jund, Hoenig and Herbez; time has seen their roles evolve from when they first started, and their excitement for the next steps in Bugatti’s tale is palpable.
“You can’t find anything better than what we do – it is truly incomparable,” explained Hoenig. “There are plenty of great cars and great brands out there, but the cars we develop are just unbeatable. The past 20 years have been incredibly rich, and we have pushed boundaries. I look forward to seeing how the company evolves from here.”
Christophe Piochon, the President of Bugatti Automobiles, also played a major part of the rebirth of the brand. Essential to the Veyron prototype work, Piochon joined the team in Molsheim on the same year, 2003, as Quality Project Manager, helping to define what a Bugatti should be and overseeing development of this era-defining hyper sports car under the guidance of legendary engineer Ferdinand Piëch. With Piëch’s vision in his mind, the words of Ettore Bugatti ringing in his ears and the guiding hand of Bugatti Rimac CEO Mate Rimac on his shoulder, Christophe is now helping to propel the iconic brand into a new era.
“Over the last two decades, Bugatti has undergone a remarkable journey of innovation and excellence,” Piochon commented. “The relentless pursuit of perfection has been made possible by the unwavering dedication of our exceptional team, especially those who have been so valuable to our family in Molsheim since 2003,” he noted. “Their passion, expertise, and commitment have been the driving force behind Bugatti’s remarkable growth and I’m looking forward to work with them and everyone at Bugatti as we continue to expand the Molsheim site, the Bugatti brand and its product range in 2024.”
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