The Bugatti marque has an array of the most exclusive, indeed totally unique brand values ever assembled. Ettore Bugatti came from a family of famous designers, sculptors, painters and architects. Though he chose a different path, it was Ettore who gave the family name its global renown, producing machines that set world speed records for planes, boats, trains and cars, the most successful racing car in history and the most expensive automobile in history. VW purchased the name a few years ago and created the fastest, most powerful, most expensive Veyron, and in so doing, the exclusive brand name was successfully resurrected. Now Bugatti will produce a Tourbillon wristwatch by Parmigiani which doubles as the clock on the dashboard of its latest car and hence will be worn only by those who purchase the US$1,470,000 16C Galibier, which will be, predictably, the fastest, most exclusive and most powerful four door automobile available.

The Galibier’s Tourbillon clock by Parmigiani sits on the dashboard and detaches, clipping to a specially designed wristband to create the exclusive wristwatch. There’s also a television monitor that can be detached.

Fifty years after becoming defunct, the Bugatti marque was resurrected by Volkswagen which rekindled the torch with the world’s most expensive and fastest car – that’s the 400kmh Veyron, with 16 cylinders, eight camshafts, four turbochargers, 64 valves and 987 horsepower in case you’ve been visiting another planet.

Since the Veyron’s limited run is heading to the wire, there has been much speculation about its replacement, and the 16C Galibier Concept is most likely it. Shown privately in an exclusive gathering at the company’s Molsheim headquarters in September, the car is currently being shown in Los Angeles, also by invite only.

At the prestigious Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills, Bugatti’s Director of Sales, Marketing and After Sales, Alasdair Stewart, emphasized that the Galibier is just one of several concept studies that the company is considering for the future of the Bugatti marque. Apparently one such rumor is a lower priced sportscar to sit below the Veyron.

Logically, that’s the only way they can go in the current austere financial climate, as the Veyron cost squillions to develop in order to be sufficiently over-the-top (OTT) to carry the Bugatti badge, and topping it will take too much money at this stage. On top of that, with Porsche and Volkswagen Group (Bugatti’s parent company) in the process of merging, the technological foundations of the next really OTT Bugatti are probably yet to be brought together, but the ingredients will soon be there to attempt it.

Though the word is that it’s a concept, it’s so finely detailed that it’s difficult to see it not being produced – rumors suggest 2013 will be the date of delivery of the first models, and that it will cost a few cents less than the Veyron.

The Galibier name is taken from the original designation for the four-door saloon model of the Type 57, another of Bugatti’s landmark automobiles, and the most exclusive, elegant, and powerful four-door automobile in the world in its time.

Bugatti’s press statement: Arte - Forme - Technique: those are the brand values by which Ettore Bugatti and his son Jean oriented themselves in order to develop even more powerful engines and even more noble body designs for each new model, which were unequaled in quality, handling, speed and elegance. In the process, they experimented again and again with new materials; thus was Bugatti one of the first manufacturers to use aluminum parts for bodies, engine blocks and wheels.

Arte - Forme - Technique are also the brand values by which the design and engineering team at Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. oriented themselves in the development of the Galibier. With this new four-door concept car, Bugatti assumes once again a leading role in the use of new material combinations.

For example, the body is constructed of handmade carbon fibre parts coloured dark blue so that, when illuminated, the woven structure strikingly shimmers through. Carbon fibre not only possesses exceptionally great rigidity but is also especially light. The wings and doors are made out of polished aluminium.

The Galibier’s design masters the challenge of uniting sportiness with the comfort and elegance of a modern four-door saloon. The basic architecture picks up on the torpedo-like character of the Type 35, which was already revived in the Veyron, and reinterprets it. With the typical Bugatti radiator grille, unusual, round LED headlights and the clamshell running the length of the vehicle, which became synonymous with the brand identity under Jean Bugatti in the Type 57, this car transports the Bugatti genes into the modern world.

Beneath the bonnet, which folds back from both sides, resides a 16-cylinder, 8-litre engine with two-stage supercharging. What makes this engine so special is that it was developed as a flex-fuel engine and can optionally be run on ethanol.

Four-wheel drive, specially developed ceramic brakes and a new suspension design enable the agile, always-sure handling of a saloon of this size.

The interior reflects the elemental design of the exterior. The dashboard has been reduced to the essential; two centrally located main instruments keep even the rear passengers constantly informed of the current speed and previous performance. Parmigiani, the Swiss maker of fine watches, created a removable tourbillion clock for the Galibier, which may be worn on the wrist thanks to a cleverly designed leather strap.

“Galibier” is not just the name of one of the most difficult alpine passes along the Tour de France but, in its time, was a version of the four-door Type 57, unequalled in sportiness and elegance. ENDS

View gallery - 8 images