March 9, 2009 The automotive world held its breath when Bugatti's turn came during the Geneva Auto Show press conference merry-go-round last week. Here was the world's most over-the-top brand name addressing the assembled global automobile industry in its centenary year. Highly credible sources such as respected German magazine Auto Motor und Sport were suggesting during the lead up to the conference that Bugatti was to gazump all the contenders for the world's fastest production car with a 1007 kw (1375 bhp) Veyron derivative with a top speed of 273 mph. The rumours even got the name right - the Centenaire.
It was all entirely credible. If anyone was going to produce a 1000 kw production car, it would be Bugatti, Though the 1001 bhp Bugatti Veyron has only been on the market for three years, it is unquestionably one of the most significant automobiles in history, and from the outset was to be a limited edition of just 300 cars. With 250 cars ordered to date, there are only 50 more Veyrons to be sold. Despite the limited-edition-of-150 Grand Sport derivative staving off the inevitable need for a new model, Bugatti must announce a new car soon, or else it won't have any cars to sell. Whatever it decides upon, it will obviously need to be significant, and this is Bugatti's 100th year – the company first participated in the Geneva Show of 1909, so it was logical that something very special would be presented.
In the end, something special was presented, though the enormous expectations created by the rumours left the crowd somewhat disappointed when the exquisite Veyron “Bleu Centenaire” one-off anniversary model was presented. The special Centenaire model uses the traditional Bugatti two-tone-specification, but portrays it in matt and gloss Bugatti blue. The roof-trim-stripes and the exterior rearview mirrors are of polished, anodized aluminum. A special wheel design has been added – enhanced by a bright red brake-capillar. The grills at the front and at the side air intakes are in “mirror shine”. The interior of the Centenaire is fitted in a special snowbeige leather with quilting on the seats. The central console is covered in the same leather.
New LED lights, Park Distance Control and a rearview camera have become part of the standard equipment for all Bugatti Veyrons from this year, and the Bleu Centenaire shares all the performance characteristics of other Veyron models. The car will cost EUR 1.35 Million exclusive of taxes and transportation. Bugatti will celebrate its hundredth anniversary on various occasions throughout the year, culminating in an event in Molsheim on September 12, 2009. The next highlight Bugattisti should look out for will be the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Cernobbio in the North of Italy between April 24 and 26. Our betting is that some time in 2009, we'll get to see that 1375 bhp Bugatti, and with Bugatti's market more likely to be at one of these two events, that's where we'll see it first.
The company broke with tradition of releasing major new cars at one of the major international auto shows last year when it showed the world's fastest open top car at the Pebble Beach Concours D'elegance - realistically, a place where people who do have USD1 million plus disposable income to spend on a car might be found, not fighting hip and shoulder with the masses at an auto show.