France France automotive history timeline:

1769 Captain Nicolas Cugnot uses a steam engine to power a small, but heavy, three-wheeled car which he called a fardier à vapeur
1807 François Isaac de Rivaz invents and patents a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine with electric ignition.
1858 Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir, a Belgian engineer, develops the first commercially successful internal combustion engine.
1898 Ettore Bugatti becomes an apprentice at the bicycle manufacture Prinetti & Stucci (Milan). He fits an engine to a tricycle (Type 1?) and experiments with engines at the front and the back.
1901 Ettore Bugatti exhibits the Bugatti Type 2 at an international exhibition in Milan. A licence to produce the Type 2 is signed with De Dietrich in Niederbronn, Alsace (France).
1902 Ettore Bugatti becomes head of technology at De Dietrich.
1903 The Bugatti Type 5 is built, the first race car designed by Ettore Bugatti.
1905 De Dietrich didn’t approve of Ettore Bugatti concentrating on race cars, his contract is terminated. He then designs a new car for Emil Mathis in Strasbourg.
1907 Ettore Bugatti falls out with Emil Mathis. He develops a new 50hp car and gets Deutz to manufacture it under licence and he becomes head of production in Cologne.
1909 Ettore Bugatti starts his own company and establishes a factory in Molsheim, Alsace (in Germany but later becomes part of France after World war II).
1909 Jean Bugatti is born and goes on to design some of Bugatti’s legendary cars. He also becomes head of the Bugatti racing team in 1932.
1913 The Peugeot Bébé is developed by Bugatti and manufactured under licence by Peugot.
1924 Production begins for the Bugatti Type 35 which introduces a very successful phase in the company’s history. The Type 35 sees the introduction of the iconic horseshoe shaped radiator grille.
1926 The Bugatti Type 41 Royale is launched as the most luxurious and most expensive car of the time.
1934 Henri Pigozzi establishes Simca (Societe Industrielle de Mecanique et Carrosserie Automobile) – translated as car mechanicals and bodywork company. The purpose is to build Fiat cars under license, the Italian car company in Turin.
1938 Deutsch-Bonnet established as an automobile maker, based in Champigny-sur-Marne near Paris. The firm was founded by Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet. Their cars were named as DB plus a series of numbers and/or letters.
1948 When German troops invade France, Citroën has 250 2CV prototypes out on the raod. These were then hidden from the invading army until after the war.
1951-1960 The Aronde marks the end of Fiat control, though the Fiat influence carried through to the 1000 series (1960-79), of which over 1.6 million were built.
1955 Lefèbvre and Bertoni help Citroën create the DS19, one of the 20th century’s most innovative and stylish cars.
1961 Deutsch-Bonnet stops trading because of Deutsch and Bonnet’s differing design philosophies which stopped any further cooperation.
1963 Hispano-Suiza buys Bugatti, later re-named Messier-Bugatti. The company still manufactures components for the aviation industry in Molsheim.
1974 Peugeot buys Citroën.
1982 The Cité de l’Automobile (Mulhouse) opens displaying the “Schlumf Collection” with over 120 Bugattis on display.
1987 Entrepreneur car dealer Romano Artioloi buys the rights to the Bugatti trademark and founds Bugatti Automobil S.p.A. based in Campogalliano, near Modena in northern Italy.
1988 After manufacturing almost 8.5 million Deux Cheveaux, including derivatives such as the Dyane and Ami, production in France ends.
1991 The Bugatti EB 110 is unveiled in Paris. Approximately 140 of these 12-cyclinder cars are made.
1992 Hommelll is established by by Michel Hommell, a former racing driver and the owner of Échappement, a French car magazine. Hommell builds sports cars. The factory is in Lohéac, near Rennes, Brittany and is still used to maintain Hommell cars.
1995 Bugatti Automobil S.p.A stops trading. Nuremberg-based sports car manufacturer, Dauer racing GmbH, takes over production of the EB 110 and contine to sell it under the name Dauer EB 110, around 10 are manufactured.
1998 Volkswagen AG acquire the rights to the Bugatti brand and launch the EB 118, a two-door, 18-cyclinder, four-seater coupé
2003 The Hommell car company ceases car production.
2005 Volkswagen complete “the Studio” in Molsheim in Alsace (France) as the company’s HQ and manufacturing plant. Manufacturing of the Bugatti Veyron begins in the Autumn.
2010 The Bugatti Veyron breaks the speed record for street-legal production sports cars achieving 431.072 km/h (267.856 mph).
2013 The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse breaks the speed record for a production roadster (the car had its roof down) with a speed of 408.84 km/h (254.041 mph). The car was produced specially for the record run and only eight were built.