Four turbochargers, over 1,000 PS and speeds in excess of 400 km/h. The world had not seen a super sports car like this prior to its presentation in 2000. When the relaunched French luxury brand Bugatti showcased its first series production car for decades, the term super sports car was no longer adequate to describe it.
“Thanks to the Veyron, Bugatti catapulted itself into a new dimension. We set benchmarks around 20 years ago with the first luxury hyper sports car and we are proud of that to this day,” explains Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. “The Veyron continues to be a car of superlatives: it broke several speed records and redefined what outstanding automotive engineering can do,” he adds. The hyper sports car’s name goes back to French racing driver Pierre Veyron, active for Bugatti between 1933 and 1953 in roles including test driver and development engineer. In 1939 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with French racing driver Jean-Pierre Wimille in a Bugatti Type 57C Tank.
Production of the Veyron started in 2005 at the newly built workshop in the Alsatian town of Molsheim. “With the Veyron, Bugatti brought vehicle production back to France where our luxury brand was established 110 years ago and where it belongs,” Stephan Winkelmann explains.
16-cylinder engine as the driving force
The newly developed and iconic 16-cylinder engine with an engine capacity of 8.0 litres is at the heart of this vehicle, generating a torque of 1,250 newton metres between 2,200 and 5,000 rpm. The unit features four turbochargers and initially generated 736 kW/1,001 PS at 6,000 rpm, accelerating the vehicle from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds and propelling it to 200 km/h within 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is a staggering 407 km/h. Consequently, the Veyron was the world’s fastest series-production sports car at its production launch. In 2010, the Veyron Super Sport, generating 883 kW/1,200 PS, set a further speed record at 431 km/h. It is necessary to activate a second key, the so-called Speed Key, to be able to reach the incredible speed of over 400 km/h. When this key is activated, the Veyron is lowered to a V-shape, the rear wing is adjusted and the diffuser flaps are closed to lower the drag. A technical masterpiece.
Such levels of power, sporty character and luxury with a vehicle length of 4.46 metres were an innovation back then. At the start of development, Bugatti engineers struggled to master the tough and new challenges resulting from the powerful engine and high speeds beyond 400 km/h. It took a supplier around five years just to develop a tyre that was able to guarantee the required speed of over 400 km/h. Ten radiators keep the unit and its add-on parts within a pleasant temperature range. A seven-speed, dual clutch gearbox (DSG) distributes the force to the vehicle’s four wheels, while all-wheel drive and sophisticated aerodynamics guarantee sufficient traction at all speeds. Carbon-ceramic brake discs and an air brake make sure the vehicle decelerates safely. Stephan Winkelmann is sure that “the Veyron is not only incredibly powerful and fast, but also absolutely suitable for everyday use. Having been able to balance these two extremes is unique within the automotive world.”
The Veyron brought back coachbuilding
In line with the tradition of coachbuilding, other variants, such as the roadster, known as the Grand Sport, or the Super Sport and the Grand Sport Vitesse were developed during production. The Veyron Super Sport generates 1,200 PS and reaches speeds of up to 431 km/h. A world record. The range was complemented by around 30 exclusive special models including the Pur Sang, Pegaso, Fbg par Hermes, Bleu Centenaire or Sang Noir. One thing that all models have in common is the fact that in addition to the incredible development of power, their perfection lies in how easy they are to drive and in the high standard to which they have been produced. “The Veyron is a work of art on wheels, its materials meet top quality standards and the quality of finishing is still one of a kind to this day,” Stephan Winkelmann explains. In this context, each vehicle is characterised by previously unheard of levels of detail and a perfect finish.
Until 2015 workers crafted the Veyron in Molsheim by hand. 450 customised vehicles left the workshop in Alsace, each with a price tag of at least €1.16 million. Some models cost almost three million euros, excluding tax. Soon after, its successor, the Chiron, took over from the first modern-day hyper sports car. It’s a vehicle that is simply one of a kind, fully in line with Bugatti’s tradition.