Even if you do not much care about cars, the Bugatti Chiron is one masterpiece which is sure to send chills up and down your spin with its breathtaking beauty and finesse. The 20 master craftsmen are based out of Bugatti’s Atelier facility in Molsheim, France, where 1,800 individual and exclusive parts are put together to create a Chiron. The French luxury car maker practically allows unlimited material and colour customisation to the very few patrons who order this magnificence. The facility that gives birth to this 1480bhp super sports car is no less eye opening. Take a peek inside one of the most advanced and special car manufacturing units ever built.
The production facility is named Atelier, from where 70 Chiron’s will drive out in a year. Just 20 employees are qualified to painstakingly hand built the world’s fastest, rarest and most luxurious car on the planet in a span of 6 months after parts have been ordered. The customisation options are so vivid that we are sure no two Chirons can ever be ditto copies unless ordered otherwise. Just for the exterior, Bugatti offers 23 topcoat colour options and 8 carbon variants. Get inside and you get even more puzzled. Leather can be chosen from 31 different colours, for Alcantara you have 8 colours, 30 options for colour of stitching, 18 for the carpet and 11 belt colours. And this is the basic range!
Just in case you are one of those OCD ‘I must have everything unique’ types, Bugatti’s “La Maison Pur Sang” customisation program is for you. This essentially translates into Bugatti’s commitment to meet every single custom demand a customer makes while ordering a Chiron. Want a colour that matches you necktie, Bugatti has you covered. It takes 3 weeks for complete application of all paint coats. It takes so long because every layer is applied by hand and then sanded down and polished before the next coat can be applied.
The Atelier plant has a floor space that stretches more than 1,000 square metres. For the past 10 years it has been home to the production of the magnificent Veyron 16.4 and its derivatives, but now several modifications have been made to accommodate more complex production processes. One noticeable change is the new rolling dynamometer that is now able to bear the herculean 1480bhp of massive power generated the Chiron’s engine. Even the floor at Atelier is made from epoxy and is conductive. This means it is clear and shiny like a fashion catwalk and makes sure that all electrostatic charges are dissipated.
Christophe Piochon, a 40-year-old mechanical engineer who happens to be a Member of the Bugatti Board of Management for Production and Logistics remarks, “We are building a super sports car. That is quite clear. But it is the way we do it, hand-crafting an individual product for each customer in this very special atmosphere that makes us unique”. There is not a single conveyor belt or an army of robots here; it is people working at one of the available 12 stations. The first station itself assembles the heart of the Chiron, the 1480bhp engine which is then mated to its 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox built strong enough to bear 1,600Nm torque churned by it.
Keep walking down to the second station where the engine is combined with the 628kg chassis at one of the two platforms. The process takes about one week and is accompanied by 3 employees. The rear of the Chiron is literally built around its power plant. Wiring harnesses and radiator connections are then done for the three water pumps. These cooling pipes are the same diameter as a fire brigade’s water sprays with an even higher flow rate. Also fun fact, coolant flow to the engine goes from the driver’s side and returns from the passenger’s side. 1,068 crucial bolted joints in the Chiron are documented in records out of the complete 1,800 joints. The join between the monocoque and the rear section is held strongly by 14 titanium bolts that are lightweight and weigh 34 grams each.
Next up is the filling stage where all fluids like engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, brake fluid and all hydraulic fluids are filled in. After the coolant is filled, which is filled under vacuum and checked for leaks, the massive V16 is started for the first time. The car is taken to the dynamometer where a team member sits and carries out all the tests displayed on the monitor. The dynamometer can bear all the 1,500PS and simulate speeds up to 200kmph. For 2-3hours and distance of about 60km these gruelling tests continue checking engine settings, communication with the gearbox, clutch, ESC and all other safety programs.
After passing all these tests, the exterior body is finally placed on the Chiron. All exterior bits on the Chiron are made of carbon, hence, a lot less weight and more strength but equally as every one of them are sophisticated and expensive piece. A lot of the parts are assembled in the pre-assembly area which is in a new technology centre about 200 metres away from the main facility. Because of the complexities of not damaging paint and parts, this entire process takes 3-4 days before full body installation. There is a water test where the car is put in a 30 minute simulated monsoon rain scenario for checking leaks.
Clearing all leak checks, the Chiron is ready for interior work. After 3 days with two team members the luxurious trim is now in place. For its final inspection drive a transparent plastic foil is wrapped on the Chiron to avoid any scratches. Also Chiron is not given its original wheels and under body for testing. Only after it has run for 300km and done speeds in excess of 250kmph and a very critical thumbs-up from the driver does the Chiron is ready for a customer. Transmission oil is changed and under body is installed before going for a softer 50km final drive.
Finally the Chiron visits the paint booth again for cleaning and polishing. It is then placed in the light tunnel where a team member will spend 6 hours in careful observation of the entire vehicle. Then a quality team and managers check and recheck before arranging a hand over to the customer. After two months and 20 employee's devotion, a masterpiece of speed and luxury is created and handed over to its owner as a trophy to cherish for a lifetime.