No, Bugatti is not a new company and no, the Bugatti Veyron was not the last hypercar to run on the planet Earth. Bugatti traces its existence way back in 1909, when its founder Ettore Bugatti decided to make a big name in the automobile sector. Soon after, Bugatti was simultaneously engineering some of the vicious race cars on the circuit as well as reputed road-legal cars, a trait that Ferrari and McLaren found decades later.
During its peak time, Bugatti won the very first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929, the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, and the legendary Targa Florio five years running. On the production front, Bugatti created some of the most graceful and good looking grand tourers in the world, including the elusive Atlantic, the Type 57, and the Type 41 Royale, a car for the kings and the queens.
Soon the French company dabbled in locomotives and airplanes, but with the death of Ettore's son Jean while testing one of the company's prototypes and the outbreak of World War II forced the company to stop its operations and hence the chapter 1 of the Bugatti was closed. Various unsuccessful attempts, including a notable one by Romano Artioli to revive the marquee were made.
But it wasn't until the Volkswagen, who acquired Bugatti's rights and decided to give the iconic brand a push, that the company again came into life. The biggest challenge for VW was to surpass the quad-turbo, twelve-cylinder EB110 version made by Artioli and return the marque to its former glory. From the 1999 concept to the age of Chiron, Bugatti has come a long way.
Unveiled a couple of months ago, Chiron is said to be an engineering marvel, made to shatter all the records. Let us take you to the 17 year long journey of evolution of the Chiron!
Bugatti 18/3 Chiron Concept
Year - 1999
When Volkswagen acquired the Bugatti, they commissioned Italdesign to come up with the design of three concept vehicles, out of which one will take the final shape. Italdesign and Giugiaro penned the EB118 front-engined grand tourer, the EB218 sedan and the 18/3 Chiron. Yes, this is the first time the Chiron name was ever used by Bugatti, inspired from the legendary Monegasque racing driver Louis Chiron.
18/3 was the one which would initially take a shape of a production car. The car was powered by a mid-engined, all-wheel drive powerplant that was made of eighteen cylinders, distributed between three cylinder banks, no turbochargers, and an output of 550 horsepower. These figures were way off the production car we see today, yet Bugatti Chiron was the one to be produced two decades later.
Bugatti 18/4 Veyron Concept
Year - 1999
While the 18/3 Chiron was close to what VW was expecting, the Germans asked Bugatti to design a fourth in-house model. The model was presented as a concept at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show, far-far away from Paris, Geneva, and Frankfurt shows where the previous three concepts by Italdesign were presented. The concept was named 18/4 Veyron after yet another pre-war racing driver.
As the name suggests, the Veyron concept came with a molded variation of the same eighteen cylinder design. This time, the 18 barrels were split between four banks, instead of three in the Chiron. The design is the closest form of the production Veyron we saw later with a few minor differences. Bugatti took 6 years to finalize the changes over the 18/4 Veyron and launch the production spec Bugatti hypercar.
Bugatti Veyron 16.4
Year - 2005
First production road-legal car to get past the 400 kmph mark, the first-ever car to use aero technology and the first car to have a 8.0-litre engine with more than 1000 horses on the tap. Yes, that's the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 for you, the first car to coin the 'Hypercar' term. Bugatti finally found the eureka moment with the help of enormous engineering resources of the Volkswagen Group.
Followed by the Grand Sport in 2009, Bugatti launched the open top version of the Veyron in 2008, making it the fastest roadster in the world. A more powerful Super Sport version with 1200 horses arrived in 2010 and lastly, Bugatti launched the Vitesse in 2011, packing the body of the Grand Sport and the engine from the Super Sport.
In all, Bugatti sold all the 450 units planned initially by 2015, 300 of coupes and 150 roadsters. Essentially, Bugatti Veyron will go down in the history books as the first production car to push the boundaries without fearing the cost of the car, without fearing the fuel efficiency and taking the engineering to a whole new level.
Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo
Year - 2015
With the Bugatti Veyron all sold out, although being priced exorbitantly expensive, the German owned French hypercar had its eye set on the future. Bugatti decided to go further ahead and started preparing for the next model that would surpass the Veyron's performance and sales. To preview the Chiron, as it was named later, Bugatti unveiled its Vision Grand Turismo concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The concept was designed for the video game called Gran Turismo 6, but closely previewed the production model. While the concept came with all the go-fast add-ons, it was clear that Bugatti will not retain many of those apart from the basic structure and it that give us quite-a-hint about what we were about to witness ahead of the Geneva debut a couple of months back.
Year - 2016
While the Veyron may have seen unthinkable on the first go, the Chiron may have been an out-of-this world sort-of deal. The Chiron is what you call an engineering marvel that happens once in a decade. Taking forward the Veyron's beasty shape, albeit with its own strong styling elements like the pointier nose and swept-rectangular lights, and the Chiron looks beautiful yet powerful in a single glance.
The 8.0-litre engine remains that same, but that's the only thing same about it. Two of its exhaust-driven turbochargers are now replaced by electric ones that leave no lag in spooling up. The exhaust has been pumped up to a massive 1500 horsepower and the manufacturer claim it can go well beyond 460 kmph! Phewwww....
Molsheim, the house of Bugatti has decided for 500 units this time around and you can bet over more versions to follow - might be a roadster version of the Chiron, or a more powerful Grand Sport too. With an expected price range upwards of $2.5-million, it will be a hard to get vehicle, but totally worth it!
We will be posting more about the Bugatti Chiron in the coming days, so keep a tab here!