Barely a year old, the Bugatti Chiron has already grown to become the jewel atop the Bugatti crown, with the $2.6 million supercar gaining instant recognition everywhere from Monaco to Macau. With a 16 cylinder engine that is capable of sending over 1500hp and 1600Nm of torque, the 400km/h Chiron is a machine with a mission, and its unmistakable profile has made it an instant classic, one that will surely have a place in the Bugatti museum in the very near future.
However, behind the rush of the engine and the comfort of the leather seats lies a car manufacturer rich in history and respectful of tradition. In the lead up to the Geneva Motor Show, Bugatti opened the doors to its’ hallowed Molsheim ‘atelier’, showcasing the work that goes behind the construction of each Chiron and allowing us to take a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the bug.
Everything runs like clockwork at the Studio in Molsheim. Situated directly adjacent to the Bugatti family’s ancestral home, Château St. Jean, Molsheim is where all Bugattis are given life. The aluminium-clad building, modelled on the macaron shape of the brand logo, has a steel construction that makes it appear to float, looking more like an artist’s studio than a car factory. While stunning on the outside, it is within Molsheim where the magic happens. Each car is hand made to the exacting specifications of its owner, with highly qualified mechanics assembling the cars in three assembly areas – one car in each area. The end result? Something unique and absolutely perfect: a Bugatti.
A total of six months goes into the production of each Chiron, a process that involves no robots. In fact, the only electronic tool used in the chassis assembly is the EC nut runner system, that informs assembly workers when the right torque value is reached for each bolt. Molsheim truly looks like a laboratory more than a car manufacture, completely devoid of machinery with no robots in sight.
The 1800 pieces that comprise the car are put together by a 20 person team. In another nod to the exclusivity and attention to detail that Bugatti provides, all customers are offered La Maison Pur Sang, a customization program that puts the clients in charge of their cars. Each Bug is completely customisable, with options as wide ranging as 23 different colours of leather to 18 colours of carpet and 11 colours of seat belts. The owner has the ability to make their Chiron as unique as they like, and if all these options are not enough, a compromise can surely be worked out with Molsheim.
“Neither our equipment nor our procedures can be compared with those of other car plants,” explains the Bugatti’s head of production and logistics, Christophe Piochon. “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. This is ‘Haute Couture de l’Automobile’.”
The creation of the Bugatti does not stop at the assembly line. To ensure that the car really is built to perfection, each Chiron is subjected to a 600km, racing on Colmar airport’s runway at speeds of 250km/h and beyond. Road testing is also provided at the Autobahn. And so that the car looks as good as it goes, before it hits the testing stage it’s wrapped in a protective foil — a process that takes an entire day. It is only when the test drive is completed that the foil is removed and the car is fitted with its production equipment and given its exterior paint finish.
With each piece taking over 6 months from assembly to finish, it is with little wonder that there will only be 70 Chirons on the road around the world by the end of 2017. Find out more direct from Bugatti.