In the hyper-car world, to stand out from the competition means doing something considered almost impossible by the competition. This is exactly what the heritage of Bugatti – and the modern Bugatti trilogy of cars – was founded on. The company, founded originally by Ettore Bugatti in 1909, was located in Molsheim, a city in the then-German annexed part of France called Alsace. The company produced luxury cars and built race cars, including the Type 35 Grand Prix cars and the famously beautiful Type 57 Atlantic. Join us as we take a look back on the history of Bugatti and reflect on three of its most coveted models of all-time.
Ettore Bugatti passed away in 1947, eight years after his son, Jean. This led to the effective closure of the business, with just one model produced in the 1950s before the company’s aircraft parts business was purchased in 1963. The brand name itself was purchased and revived in 1987 by Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli, who vowed to have the Bugatti name harken back to the heady days of the early 20th century. However, it would be a bumpy journey for the name.
The EB110 was born in 1991 following a design exercise in 1989 by Paolo Stanzani and Marcello Gandini, the creators of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, which brought forth a product reminiscent of the iconic cars. A sharp wedge design, angular headlights and a mid-mounted 3.5L V12, complete with four turbochargers, a five-valve per cylinder head design, a six-speed transmission and all-wheel drive, were wrapped in a carbon-fiber-reinforced chassis that weighed just 275lbs (125kg).
And just like that, the first car in the modern Bugatti trilogy itself was unveiled on September 15, 1991. The name commemorates Ettore Bugatti, and the 110, and date of release, were for his 110th birthday. Power was rated at 412 kW (560 PS; 553 hp) at 8,000 rpm and 451 lb-ft (611 Nm) of torque at 3,750 rpm. The 0-62mph (0-100kph) time was a startling 3.26 seconds, making it the quickest production series car of its era. Top speed? A “mere” 218 mph (351 kph).
However, financial difficulties also befell this iteration of Bugatti. After various assets were sold off, it wouldn’t be until 1998 that the brand was once again revived, this time by new owners, the Volkswagen Group. Various concept cars were presented, with the designs from Giorgetto Giugiaro pointing towards what would shake the automotive world.
In 2005, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport made its debut and immediately stunned the industry. Again, a mix of a composite body, four turbochargers, and all-wheel drive would feature, but it was the ovoid exterior and horseshoe nose insert, along with a brand new engine, that captured the imagination. A unique W configuration for the 8.0L engine, effectively a pair of V8s mounted side by side, along with the all-wheel drive, provides the 16.4 part of the name.
The Veyron was a welcomed addition to the Bugatti trilogy, as torque was a mammoth 1,106 ft-lb (1,500 Nm). The power figures were model-dependent; the Standard Coupe & Grand Sport Roadster delivered 987hp (736kW), whilst the Super Sport Coupe and Grand Sport Roadster saw 1,184hp (883kW). All of this power and torque were channeled to all four corners via a computer-driven seven-speed automatic. The Super Sport was released in 2010.
German inspection officials recorded an average top speed of the original version at 253.81 mph (408.47 kph), with zero to 100kph (0-62mph) and 200kph (0-124mph) times of 2.7 seconds and 7.3 seconds, a time quicker than many sports cars getting to 100 kph (62mph). Keeping the Veyron cool required ten radiators: 3 heat exchangers for the air-to-liquid intercoolers, 3 engine radiators, 1 for the air conditioning system, 1 transmission oil radiator, 1 differential oil radiator and 1 engine oil radiator.
Said to be an almost benign drive, with Top Gear’s James May describing his driving experience in a Veyron as very controlled, the car’s normal top speed is listed at 213 mph (343 kph). When the car reaches 137 mph (220 kph) a hydraulic system lowers the car until it has a ground clearance of about 3.5 inches (9 cm). At the same time, the wing and spoiler deploy. In this “handling mode,” the wing provides 770 lbf of downforce, holding the car to the road.
The Veyron isn’t a large car either. It measures just 4,462 mm (175.7 inches) in length and rolls on a wheelbase of 2,710 mm (106.7 inches). Starting weight is just 4,162lb (1,888kg). It also wasn’t a car for those shy about their money. A replacement transmission was costed at $120,000 USD and the made-for-Veyron tires from Michelin were $25,000 USD per set. Even getting them fitted was $75,000 USD.
The name, Veyron, by the way, is a dedication to a Bugatti engineer, Pierre Veyron, who won a LeMans 24 Hours in 1939 with co-driver Jean-Pierre Wimille. The car, naturally, was a Bugatti. 2016 and Bugatti released the Chiron. Bugatti chose this name to honor Louis Chiron, a Grand Prix driver from Monaco. The body of the Chiron is a refinement of the Veyron, with a more assertive stance, and a more angular design ethos. There is also a more defined scallop on each side that leads to some of the car’s radiators.
The heartbeat of the Chiron is an uprated version of the Veyron’s W16. It packs a mighty punch, with 1,479hp (1,103 kW) at 6,700 rpm and 1,180 lb-ft (1,600 Nm) of torque starting from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm. This is good enough to propel the Chiron to 62mph (100kph) is 2.4 seconds. Stretch the legs a little more at the 200kph mark is just 6.1 seconds. In just over double that time, 13.1 seconds, the 186mph (300kph) mark is reached. Get out on an autobahn and the top speed is limited to 260mph (420kph).
In a test environment in 2017, on the Ehra-Lessien track and driven by Juan-Pablo Montoya, the Chiron achieved a new high. In a dedicated 0-400 kph-0 (0-249 mph-0) test Bugatti set a new record, with just under 42 seconds and needing just 2 miles ( 3.2 kilometers) in which to do so. The 400kph mark too 32.6 seconds, and required 9.4 seconds for the ceramic brakes to haul the Chiron back to standstill.
In 2019, a pre-production Chiron Super Sport 300+, driven by Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace at Ehra-Lessien, achieved a speed of 304.77 mph (490.48 kph). This was the first time in history a production vehicle had exceeded the 300mph mark.
As evidenced in the Bugatti trilogy of supercars, the company continues to push the boundaries and challenge the impossible. They have developed and released the Super Sport 300+ and a further development vehicle called the Pur Sport, a lighter and handling focused version with a 3D printed exhaust, extensive use of alcantara, anodized aluminum and titanium on the interior. Michelin continues to work with Bugatti to develop rubber to suit the Bugatti range of vehicles.
The pictures here mark a true rarity, as the Bugatti trilogy and its three main supercars of the modern era, the EB110, Veyron and Chiron, were brought together in mystifying Dubai.