Normally, cars are introduced at international motor shows, but this year's Geneva Motor Show will actually feature an ending of sorts. Those with good enough memories will know that 450 was always the planned number of Veyrons Bugatti was going to make before shutting down the line, and that 450th and final Veyron will be on the stand next month in Geneva.
The news came from Bentley and Bugatti chief Wolfgang Dürheimer in an interview with German car magazine Auto, Motor und Sport. Dürheimer didn't get in to specifics, but everyone seems to be betting the very last world-beating supercar will be a Grand Sport Vitesse, which would be the targa model with an extra high output 1,183 horsepower mill.
Like just about every other automotive news outlet on the planet, we've been impressed by the Veyron since day one. Its list of technological particulars sounds like Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott's shopping list:
- an 8.0-liter, quad-turbocharged engine with the cylinders arranged in a W16 layout displacing just under 8 liters (7,993 cubic cm (487.8 cu in) if you really want to be a stickler)
- a dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox computer-controlled automatic with seven gear ratios that can change cogs in less than 150 ms (and if you munch the gearbox, a replacement unit will cost you the price of a good used Ferrari)
- special Michelin PAX run-flat tires unique to the car that cost US$25,000 per set (the skins can be mounted on the rims only back in France, which will set you back another $70,000 for mounting and balancing)
- a total of 10 radiators: three heat exchangers for the air-to-liquid intercoolers for the turbos, three engine radiators, one transmission oil radiator, one differential oil radiator, one engine oil radiator and one for the air conditioning system.
And that's only about a third of all the gee-wiz stuff this car packs. How could anyone not like a car like that?
Even before its release in 2005, it was being heralded as the world's fastest production car. The Veyron Super Sport officially claimed that record back in 2010 at an astounding 268 mph (431 km/h) before setting the record again, in a manner of speaking, by getting the Guinness Book of World Records to officially award the Veyron, and not the usurper, the Hennessey Venom GT, the crown.
It wasn't all about bragging rights and speed runs either.
Over the journey we got a look at the inside of the Ricardo-built 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) system and were treated to a number of special editions, including the one-off "Bleu Centenaire" anniversary model, and the first supercar released sans paint job, the Pur Sang limited edition Veyron. There was even the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse World Record Car limited edition to drive home its Guinness credentials to anyone who wasn't aware.
All this is well and good and there is no denying that the Bugatti Veyron, in all its guises, forms and trims, is a startlingly potent car. In terms of outright velocity, it is unmatched. In expressions of exclusivity, it is hard to beat.
But it is also worth noting that for all of this, Bugatti has no real relationship to the company founded by one of the all time automotive greats, Ettore Bugatti. It was a nameplate, a badge, picked up from a semi-failed resurrection of marque from a few decades ago. And the people that acquired the rights to the Bugatti name? That most proletariat of all brands: Volkswagen. Also unlike the Bugattis from Le Patron's time, the new Bugattis do not race.
More's the pity that neither of those things are true, but other than those, there is nothing to pity about the Bugatti Veyron, the world's benchmark. Now attention will turn to its reported hybrid successor and the question is whether it will be worthy to follow in the Veyron's tire treads. We'll just have to wait and see.