by Carlos de Alzaga
When the Italian Ettore Bugatti founded his company Molsheim in 1908 it still belonged to Germany. In 1918 Molsheim became part of France. The genius Bugatti constructed breakthrough motor sports cars, which had a unique combination of light weight and power. At the end of the 1920s, Ettore Bugatti combined two 8-cylinder groups into the shape of a U and put them onto a mutual crankshaft housing. Thus, one of the first 16-cylinder motors in automotive history was built. This idea was taken up by Ferdinand Piech, former CEO and now chairman of the VW supervisory board, when he bought the Bugatti company in the mid-1990s. The aim was simple: to build the fastest and strongest street car in the world, which was to be named after Pierre Veyron, the French driver who won the 1939 Le Mans 24 Hour race. The top speed was set at 406 km/h – the fastest speed ever done in the Le Mans by a Porsche 917, before a chicane was added to make this top speed not achievable again ever after. Guess who the sports car project manager was at the time - it was Ferdinand Piech lui-meme.
So what can a genius such as Piech be interested in after turning around a juggernaut like VW, which was on the brink of collapse? We think that he wanted to start writing history - not as far as financial performance is concerned - but by pushing the boundaries of automotive history. Bugatti was an obvious choice to build on and 16 cylinders was an obvious choice as Audi, also part of the VW Group, had good know-how in 8 cylinder technology. Four turbochargers are needed for this performance or the mid-engine, placed in front of the rear axle. The price for the Bugatti Veyron rose from originally 1 million marks (USD 500,000) to 1 million Euros (USD 1.2 million), as the rest of the VW Group refused to pay the bill for this epitome of excellence and superiority of automotive capability. The Veyron is a piece of art, which will compete with an expensive Picasso or van Gough, according to the current VW CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder, the man who crashed a McLaren F1 when he was CEO of BMW. The Bugatti Veyron is suffering from a further delay and will come to the market in summer 2005, now.
"The modern-day Bugatti will define its image through technology. It will be the most exciting and progressive car of its time, no more and no less," says VW supervisory board chairman Piech about the Bugatti Veyron. The original Bugatti factory was reinstated by acquiring and renovating the Château Molsheim, where it all started nearly 100 years ago. Molsheim will be manufacturing 50 to 100 cars per year, but there is no doubt that quality of finish comes first for the Bugatti Veyron. And despite being the most expensive car in the world with USD 1.2 million, a couple of dozen of the 300 units have already sold with a downpayment of USD 300,000, although this car will be only delivered to clients in summer 2005. The Bugatti Veyron will normally be limited to 360 km/h by an electronic chip. If you should wish to drive faster and test the 406 km/h limit, a Bugatti engineer will fly in with a set of high speed tires, and will aid you diving the fastest speed a street car can go. There are also plans to close motorways for high speed driving in Dubai – it just shows that a Bugatti Veyron owner will be the member of probably the most exclusive club on earth.
Engine: 5.7L V16
Retail Price: US$ 1,400,000
More information on: www.bugatti-auto.com
For those seriously interested to acquire a Bugatti Veyron, please contact Dr Thomas Bscher, President of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., on +49-221-145 1707.