Did you know that supercar maker Bugatti’s founder, Ettore Bugatti, developed wheels made of aluminum for the first time over 95 years ago?
It wasn’t long ago that the Chiron set a world record with its 304-mph top speed. But did you know that Bugatti’s are also known for their use of exotic materials in their quest for ultimate performance? Nearly 95 years ago, Ettore Bugatti developed wheels made of aluminum for the first time, using them on a Type 35. Independently from each other, inventor Charles Martin Hall and chemist Paul Héroult were the first to develop an electrolysis process to produce aluminum in 1886. Racing car designer Harry A. Miller had the idea of producing aluminum wheels in 1920. He had the concept patented, but didn’t actually produce any wheels.
That is where Bugatti’s founder came in, Ettore Bugatti succeeded shortly afterward in casting aluminum wheels, spokes and brake drums at the company’s own foundry in Molsheim using molds he had designed himself. Rather than using wheels with thin spokes, from 1924 onwards, Bugatti used wheels made of cast aluminum featuring eight flat and wide spokes, a removable wheel rim and an integrated brake drum for the legendary Type 35 racing car. The simple design almost resembles a sculpture – a prime example of Ettore Bugatti’s aesthetic aspirations. Today, Bugatti continues to push the boundaries of technology and innovation, experimenting with different wheel designs on the Chiron and Divo to make the cars lighter, more agile, and more aerodynamic.