Top-speed champs in the motoring industry have been there since Henry Ford came on the scene and changed everything. Every decade, a new car checks in and topples the old champ, which is pushed to the side or sent to oblivion. In all of history, however, there has never been a renowned top-speed champ like the Bugatti. The car got instant fame after dethroning the 230 mph McLaren F1 that dominated the '90s and seemed like it would never lose. Of course, McLaren tried hard to beat the Bugatti, but the car bounced back stronger as the fastest in the universe.
It was from this backdrop, with all the stiff competition, that it became really famous. People singing about it, it’s being used in movies, and the rich and famous using it as a way of gifting each other, among other things, that have improved its publicity. It all started with the Bugatti Veyron, which officially dethroned the McLaren in the 2000s after being acquired by Volkswagen and launching the 1,001 BHP supercar with an 8-liter W-16 engine packed with four turbochargers. In 2016, an even faster model, the Bugatti Chiron, was introduced.
While it may seem like a smooth journey for Bugatti, its history is deep, dating back to 1909, when founder Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti started it in Germany. But even back then, the car was respected for its beauty, speed, and accumulated race wins. There are so many hidden facts about it, but here are just 22 that you probably didn’t know.
22 The Bugatti Veyron Rakes In Losses
Did you know that German automaker, Volkswagen, loses a staggering $6.5 million for each Bugatti Veyron sold in the market? Now you know. The automaker may have denied this report on several occasions, but different independent institutions have backed this truth as a fact. Bernstein Research, a Wall Street research firm, said in a report that VW was taking in losses from the Bugatti Veyron just because of the high costs of producing the supercar, which stood at about $1.62 billion, coupled with the very low volume of sales, which has been at about forty cars annually. Despite its price tag of a whopping $1.5 million, they still couldn't make the cut. However, the company continued producing the car just because the world loved it. This is one car that has made headlines, and even the BBC show, Top Gear, listed it among the greatest cars of the last twenty years. Well, it may not make business sense, but it still massages Volkswagen's ego, right?
21 At Maximum Speeds, The Bugatti Is A Huge Air Consumer
Bugatti is synonymous with luxury, function, style, and speed. When this car hits its maximum speed, it consumes about 45,000 liters of air in just 60 seconds! Simply put, for those who may not have enjoyed Physics of Mathematics class, when you want to create a 1,000-horsepower engine, it should burn enough gas to be able to generate such output. At this point, you need to know how an engine works.
So, the Bugatti, with its 16-liter V8 engine, was fitted with an extra four turbochargers, just so it could achieve the 1,000-horsepower range.
So, at maximum speeds, the car takes in so much more air, enough to burn the gas fast enough to generate more power. This can be quite expensive, by the way—probably why you'd have to have deep pockets to own such a ride.
20 The Bugatti Has 10 Radiators
Now that you know about the massive engine the Bugatti has and its power, you ought to know that there's more to it than just that. It also has a massive cooling system to match. As mentioned, the horsepower is about 1,000 (or maximum of about 1,200), which means this car really works its engine, and it can get really hot. The car has three engine radiators, three heat exchangers for air-to-liquid intercoolers, its own radiator for the air-conditioning system, a transmission oil and differential oil radiator, plus, a radiator especially for the engine oil—did you lose count? Well, if you think that's super amazing for a car designed for speed, think again, because McLaren's F1 designer, Gordon Murray, doesn't. In fact, he thinks designing a 1000-horsepower car just for speed is a pointless and incredibly childish undertaking and is 'narrow-minded' for a car designer. That's harsh!
19 After 450 Veyrons, The Car's Production Was Killed
Thus far, all the 450 Bugatti Veyrons produced have been sold—this, according to what VW had promised when the number got to 450. And so, they seized production of the Veyron, sadly. In case you were saving up to get one for yourself, sorry, it's a wrap! These 450 Veyrons sold at an average of about 2.3 million euros (or $2.6 million each), so maybe, they actually don't make any profits from the car—tsk tsk... Anyhoo, the final Veyron that went on sale was bought by a customer in the Middle East, half of the 450 were sold in Europe, and a quarter of them in the United States, so at least you know where to go if you hear that one among the 450 customers intends to sell his. And just like that, the car industry marked the grand closure of what's a great car, despite its high maintenance costs, but Bugatti enjoyed it either way, even with the huge dent it left on their history. It still remains a unique car.
18 The Veyron’s Tires Cost $42,000 A Set
The tires are just as expensive as the car. Like we saw earlier, this isn't a car for any average Joe; you've got to have deep pockets not just to buy but to own and love this car as your own for the time you want to have it—even if that time is one week. It's not an easy feat.
The Bugatti's tires, by the way, last only a paltry 15 minutes when the car hits its top speed, and once it does, you've got to fork out another $42,000 because you have to immediately replace the old with a new set.
Upon the third tire replacement, the tire brand, Michelin, requires that you swap out all the wheels for another $69,000. However, if you didn't hit the top speed, after a meager 2,500 miles, you need an entirely new set. An average car owner doesn't have time for these champagne problems, right? It's too costly! The good news is this was rectified in the Chiron, which uses normal rim geometrics, saving billionaires money in car-maintenance expenditures.
17 The First Veyron Was Released In 1999 And Had Almost Half The Power
Before a car goes into production, you'll definitely see some concept photos or even the concept car itself. In the same way, the first version ever released of the Bugatti was shown in Tokyo as a concept car, but it wasn't as fast as we know it today. The concept version came with a 6.3-liter engine and a speed of 186 mph, and it ran from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, considerably slower than most other Bugatti cars we've seen in the recent past. This car was hailed as the beginning of a true success story, and indeed, it was, as it set off the fastest and most exclusive series production of the most super sports car on the planet, the Veyron 16.4. It may not be anything close to its sibling, the Chiron, but it definitely was a trailblazer in its time, setting the tone for the next Bugatti models.
16 VW Acquired Bugatti
In 1998, Volkswagen, the world's largest automaker, acquired Bugatti, just three years after the company was declared bankrupt and was on the brink of closure. We're not even going to delve into the details and the amount of the deal, but it's definitely in the high millions. In the same year, VW also bought top supercar brands like Lamborghini, Bentley, and the renowned epitome of luxury cars, Rolls-Royce. For VW, this was such a huge year, and they had a good market status during this time, which led to tremendous growth from then on. The German automaker has managed to maintain the Bugatti brand, even with the low returns, but owing to its huge portfolio and wide sales, they're able to keep it afloat.
15 There Are Only Two Bugatti 57SC Atlantics In The World
This car may not look all that. Maybe it wouldn't have been given much attention had it not been part of the Bugatti family. Meet the Bugatti 57 SC Atlantics, of which there are only two in the whole world—one owned by Ralph Lauren, one of the leading fashion designers in the world. The cars, which were manufactured from 1934 to 1940, came in two basic variants: the original type 57 and the lowered type 57 SC (Surbaisse Compresseur), which is what Lauren owns.
These are some of the most iconic Bugattis, which came with a V-shaped dip below the radiator, mesh grilles on each side of the engine compartment, and a rear axle through the rear frame.
Only 2 supercharged type 57 SC Bugattis were manufactured originally, and Lauren unveiled his $40 million unique version about four years ago, which, in Paris, won a prestigious award—Classic Best of the Best award. The second one is owned by Rob Walton, son to Walmart founder Sam Walton.
14 Bugatti Was Sold Off For The First Time In 1963
Bugatti was an extremely successful car back in the 1930s, especially in the racing scene, but all that changed in the '50s when the company suffered many losses. In 1956, Bugatti stopped the production of its cars, and later on, a man named "Hispano Suiza" bought it from the company and renamed it "Messier Bugatti." After 24 years of managing the Bugatti brand, Suiza decided to call it quits and later sold it to Romano Artioli, who moved the entire company to Modena for the first time since 1909. Artioli owned a huge Bugatti collection and started Bugatti International, a holding company that bought the Bugatti trademark name in 1987, after which the Bugatti EB 110 was made from 1991 to 1995. However, due to bankruptcy, VW bought the company in 1998 and have owned the brand since then.
13 Germany Forced Ettore To Sell The Company To A German Entrepreneur
Hans Trippel, a German investor and designer of the Mercedes Benz's popular gullwing doors, met lady luck after Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party, and his whole organization forced Ettore (founder and proprietor of Bugatti automobiles company) to sell his company to the investor. Trippel bought the company for 140 million francs during the Cold War era when the Nazis wanted to control the whole world around the year 1941, when Ettore's brother passed away and operations were becoming rather challenging and difficult. At the same time, the company's employees went on strike at the firm's Molsheim factory, which forced Ettore to work from Paris if only to cut on costs. Hitler, around this time, commissioned the manufacturing of the Beetle, which was so successful and became the car with the longest production ever with 21 million cars sold globally.
12 The Veyron Is Named After Pierre Veyron
When you heard of the Bugatti Veyron landing in the market, you probably thought, "Wow, what a dope name!" right? Maybe you just wanted to know what it meant or how the name came into being, but whatever the case, the name itself oozed class and luxury. But perhaps, what you didn't know is that the name "Veyron" was derived from a top racer of the French Grand Prix, Pierre Veyron, who was born in 1903 and died about 67 years later, in 1970. The race driver was known for his top-notch performances on the race track between 1933 and 1953, which is probably why he was such a legend. Bugatti hired him in 1932 as a test driver for the car, which he even entered races with and won many of them. This is why Bugatti named the car after him—to honor him for his great service and for his dedicated fight against German occupation by the French Resistance army.
11 The First-Ever Buggati Built Was A Success
If you've heard of cars that only made it to the concept stage but never saw the light of day, then you'll agree with us that Bugatti actually is a success. In fact, their success stories didn't start sometime after they began their work; it started from day one, when the first-ever Bugatti was built.
It was a 3-liter-engine vehicle that went on to win the Milan Grand Prix.
As with most first tries in any production, not just cars, the Bugatti company also struggled financially at the beginning, but their car was highly respected, especially after recording a number of wins in the 1930s. However, not many of these models were built, but the company became famous for its attention to detail in engineering, its cars, and their beauty.
10 Ettore’s First Race Wasn’t In A Car But A Motorized Tricycle
As much as the first Bugatti car was a success and won many races, the first race itself wasn't done in a Bugatti car. Ettore started his own company in 1902 after he had left work with the Dietrich family at a place called "Alsace." He was fired after Dietrich had noticed that he was more obsessed with race cars and building them, plus winning races. Clearly, it was in his blood, and you cannot kill someone's passion. At just 17 years, while working at Prinetti & Stucchi, Ettore built a tricycle but also experimented with other models. His obsession went on for years, and this is what many billionaire owners of the Bugatti continue to enjoy to date.
9 Bugatti's Father Was A Well-Renowned Award-Winning Artist
Carlo Bugatti, the father to Ettore—founder and proprietor of Bugatti—came from a family of artists, and naturally, he also became a well-known artist, wowing people with his designs in furniture, which were particularly specific in detail. Ettore's parents, Carlo and Teresa, took him in in 1881, and the boy grew up to become a famed designer—but for cars, perhaps following in the family line of artistry. Carlo's keenness to detail was clearly displayed in the Bugatti his son designed, which was not just beautiful but also pretty fast. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why the Bugatti brand is still known for its detailed and unique look and feel even after about a century later. Few manufacturers were as keen on design as Bugatti was at that time because a lot of them focused on speed and handling, especially for racing, as they wanted to dominate and win many races in the Grand Prix.
8 Don’t Expect To Cover Ground With The Buggati
By now, you can already see that not only does this car have a rich history and heritage in design and detail, but it's also one not to be owned and/or handled just by any average Joe. If you want to keep a Bugatti, you need to have more than just your lottery winnings. At full speed, this car travels only twelve minutes before the gas tank empties out, and when it's completely empty, the tires, which cost $42,000 a set, will be worn out and will need immediate replacement before you can use the car again. It's that delicate! You must be thinking that it's just a good-to-look-at car but not a nice car to own and keep. That's actually true to an extent, so if you're going to get one and keep it, you shouldn't complain about costs, especially now that you know beforehand what owning one is like.
7 A Veyron Could Be Ordered With A Diamond-Studded Speedometer
You were waiting to see the diamond-studded speedometer, right? But you can't. That's because we haven't come across one or a photo of any on the interwebs for that matter. Well, Bugatti—the Veyron, to be specific—is perhaps the only car that lets you order your own signature one with a custom speedometer littered with diamonds. Yes, pure diamonds! They probably glitter as you increase your speeds, lol. But if you're feeling more special than others and you have the money to match, then go ahead and order yours. This feature is so rare, we don't know how many billionaires—even someone like Cristiano Ronaldo—availed of this offer when they got their own Bugattis. Even if it's just aesthetics, it's a big deal to have diamonds in your already expensive ride.
6 The New Bugatti Chiron Costs $3 Million
Even though you can now maintain a Bugatti because it's been made much cheaper to do so, the car still isn't user-friendly when it comes to expenses.
In fact, the new Bugatti Chiron, which costs a swashbuckling $3.4 million, has a top speed of about 261 mph, and it has an added almost 300 horsepower compared to its counterpart, the Veyron.
In fact, the Chiron is described as a car with more beast combining a high level of beauty and is the fastest, most powerful, and most exclusive production of Bugatti super sports cars in the history of the brand. For $3 million, you get innovative technology, the sophisticated design, and the iconic performance-oriented form in a car that pushes limits beyond imagination.
5 A Bugatti Test Almost Blew Up Its Factory
From the onset, we saw that the Bugatti, at maximum speeds, can take in as much as 45,000 liters of air to service its four separate turbochargers and enable it to hit the 1,000-horsepower level. Thus, the car's engine develops a lot of power in a bid to hit that horsepower level. The interesting thing about all this power and the Bugatti engine hullabaloo is that many years back, in 1939 actually, one of the Bugatti cars lost its engine during a test, which almost blew up the whole factory. This happened while Ettore, Bugatti founder and proprietor, was trying to find his way to create an innovative yet powerful engine that would send shockwaves across the world. If that happened in 1939, which is about 80 years ago, imagine what today's Bugatti engine can do. By the way, this takes into account the fact that the car has 10 radiators as we saw earlier. Add the horsepower and the speed, and it's certainly a powerhouse by itself.
4 The Engines Are Dangerous
The Bugatti car isn't your typical run-of-the-mill kind of car the way many of today's cars are produced in mass. This car, like mentioned earlier, undergoes an incredible amount of scrutiny so that each detail is placed accordingly, and what comes out is a product of fine technology and artistic detail, which leaves you saying "wow" almost forever—and aren't we wowing about the car right now? The car's engine is dangerous not because it can cause damage like the famed nuclear devastation of Hiroshima, but it's so powerful, as we mentioned, that it can blow up an entire factory—that's immense power, by the way. Bugatti engines are known for their complex systems and designs, what with its 10 radiators, its horsepower, and its turbochargers. So, if it can wreak major havoc on a factory, what would it do to a human being? You almost feel afraid to own one now.
3 The Chiron Is Believed To Be The Best-Ever Bugatti
If you just look at the latest Bugatti Chiron, it's a work of art, a sight to behold for hours on end. It's majestic even when not moving. This car was built from groundbreaking engineering processes, with its beating heart being the quad-turbocharged 8-liter W16 engine. The new two-stage turbocharging system develops 1,500 horsepower (no longer at the 1,000 hp levels we saw previously) and 1,600 Nm of torque, and its power is controlled by unique carbon-ceramic brake discs and calipers that are specially developed for the Chiron. It also features 8 titanium pistons for maximum and superior performance—amazing right? This was achieved after countless hours of work from a dedicated team to deliver a supercar that's never been seen on Earth before, which should be the case, considering its $3.4 million price tag.
2 The Front Grille Of Bugattis Used To Be Made From Aluminum
Although Bugatti grilles are now made of titanium, you need to know why the company made the shift from aluminum first, so you can see why it was necessary to change it. The horseshoe-shaped front grille of the Bugatti was previously made of aluminum, which added to its high level of craftsmanship, and on its side were eight eyes—basically, four square LED headlights on each side. What happened is that during triple-digit testing of the car, bird strikes shattered the front aluminum-made grille, and this caused damage to different components of the car. So, the company decided to remake the front grille from those made of aluminum to those made of titanium.
The titanium ones were designed to cause no damage when animals are hit, even at speeds of 250 mph.
In the end, the result was a construction that still teaches the automotive industry many lessons from torque distribution to active aerodynamics.
1 Bugatti Created Planes While Hoping To Beat The Germans
Bugatti must've been such an ambitious man. I mean, to venture into the automotive industry is already huge but to delve deeper into creating planes? That's huge! So back in the 1930s, which is like two years short of nine decades ago, Bugatti thought of creating planes—get this—to beat the Germans in a competition: the Deutsche de la Meurthe. This was the brainchild of Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe, a successful Frenchman who was in the petroleum business and a huge supporter of aviation those days. So, Bugatti even named the plane, "Bugatti 100p." But sadly, it never flew. The plane was designed by Belgian engineer Louis de Monge, but surprisingly, when the World War I hit Europe, Bugatti actually designed aircraft engines for the French government. The engines turned out to be so impressive, the U.S. Bolling Commission forked out $100,000 (big money then) to buy the license.
Sources: Wikipedia, topspeed.com, motortrend.com