Bugatti spoke about two secret conceptsFebruary 18, 2020
Two previously hidden from prying eyes concept coupe Bugatti planned to sell along with Chiron.
Since joining the Bugatti to the Volkswagen Group in 1998, the company has produced two cars: Veyron and Chiron. Both are powerful, expensive cars built in strictly limited numbers. However, according to the initial plan of the French leadership, the company was going to introduce three cars during the 2010s, however, the concepts were not destined to see the world, and their launch into mass production was canceled.
The French company first tried to revive the practice of bus manufacturing in the 2000s, but it took almost every part of the process upon itself, because most of the companies with which it worked in the 1920s and 1930s disappeared long ago. Although this added considerable cost and complexity, the success of the unique expensive Lamborghini models (such as Reventón) proved that collectors were hunting for exclusivity and were more than willing to pay a lot for it.
“We did not sleep on a horse. Since 2004, I have constantly been giving management ideas about what we can do next to Veyron, on or after it. Most never saw the light, ”said Achim Anscheidt, Head of Design at Bugatti.
After many specialists left the company, the task of creating a new “body” fell to Anschaitt’s knees. One of his pilot projects shed light on a two-seater open-top coupe, similar to the Barchetta, based on the Veyron Grand Sport. It had a short, boat-like windshield that historically characterized the body style. Veyron was easily recognizable in its proportions, but the similarity ends there. The front has vertical lights and a large grille framed by wide air intakes, stylistic elements that can later be seen on the Divo.
If it were built, Veyron Barchetta would be released in a limited edition and, accordingly, at a high price, partly to offset the huge development costs. But while Lamborghini was “writing” hit after hit, including Sesto Elemento, presented at the 2010 Paris show, Bugatti’s senior management was reluctant to accept this business model. “They could not give themselves a push to make this happen,” Anschaitt said with a touch of regret.
He was reluctant to send the idea of modern bodybuilding to the attic, but he never stopped thinking about how to expand the Bugatti range. And while the Veyron varieties were removed from the table, other projects blossomed in the company’s design center. The idea was to create a three-model lineup consisting of a coupe called the Atlantic, located at the bottom of the row, a record Chiron, released in 2016, and an ultra-exclusive, almost inaccessible two-seater, conceived as a work of art on wheels.
Named after one of the most iconic Bugatti models in the past, the Atlantic was created as a two-seater with a carbon monocoque and parts sourced from other brands owned by Volkswagen. Its proportions are completely different from the proportions of Veyron and Chiron, perhaps they are more in line with the Bugatti heritage, because the long hood hides the V8 engine, which rotates the rear wheels through the gearbox for better weight distribution. Bugatti decided to use one of the V8 as the basis for the group, rather than split the W16 in half.
The electric doors open upwards thanks to a hinge mechanism similar to that used on the Volkswagen XL1. They reveal an interior partially covered in thick two-dimensional leather, closer to what is found on horse saddles than in luxury high-end cars.
As development continued at a productive pace, stylists turned their attention to the large model. While the Atlantic looked almost retro, the W16 coupe (interim name) went in a bolder direction with a front end inspired by the Veyron Barchetta and a nearly Chiron rear end. He never passed a drawing board, so he lives only in Anschaitt’s memory and in a pair of design sketches presented here.
Ansheidt recalled that Atlantic, although not fully approved for production, had been tentatively scheduled for a public debut in 2015 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Various posters decorating the walls of the design studio all refer to this date, but the launch was delayed and the delay proved fatal. A deep scandal with the Dieselgate erupted less than a month after the world’s richest enthusiasts gathered on the Pacific coast of California and sent all Volkswagen brands into a “panic mode”.
“At that time, our president Wolfgang Dürheimer did everything possible to bring Bugatti to black zero, so at least we did not cost group money. We needed to be safe in order to avoid a sale one day before the next, because in the first year no one could truly judge the magnitude of the impending financial catastrophe. Everything was careful. It remained for us for almost two years, ”said Anscheidt.
Chiron was at a much more advanced stage in the development process, so it was too late to cancel it. “We were five months from the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, where we planned to introduce it,” Anschaitt explained. He frankly said that otherwise the leaders would slow down the project in order to save as much money as possible, and they would put Bugatti in a “freeze frame” while they figured out what to do with the brand. It goes without saying that the larger model with the W16 was also not built. However, her spirit lived on.
It is too early to say, although Winkelman hinted at the second model and indicated that it would be positioned as a more daily (and cheaper) alternative to Chiron. Although the Atlantic has obviously never been created, this is important because it illustrates the Bugatti’s vision of an entry-level car.
Anschaitt was glad that he finally got the opportunity to open the Atlantic – albeit not in sunny California, triumphantly surrounded by a target audience sipping champagne – and tell the world about it. “I am very pleased that such things will not forever remain in the basement, and no one will see them.”
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