This Backstage Tour of Bugatti HQ Is Willy Wonka for Gearheads

Watch the hypnotic nine-step process that begets a Bugatti

February 9, 2017 9:00 am

Take 20 specialists who only work by hand, 1,800 individual parts, nine months of meticulous attention to detail and what do you get?

The 1,500-horsepower, temple-sweat-inducing perfection that is the Bugatti Chiron.

From first bolt to final polish, every piece is handled like a swaddled babe. And the French carmaker just published a behind-the-scenes look at how they literally manufacture luxury at their Molsheim, France headquarters.

Here’s what the nine-step incubation process looks like:

Step 1: Once the customer’s name (and his attendant $2.6m) is on the dotted line, the production planning begins. Materials and details are solidified and the vehicle is assigned a production slot. The parts are ordered and the magic show begins.

Step 2: The bodyshell is constructed with monocoque and chassis. If the puzzle fits together nicely, it is then coated in 6-8 layers of paint, depending on the material and hue choice. Each coat is applied by hand and must be sanded down and polished before work on the following coat may commence.  

Step 3: Production begins in the 1,000-square-meter atelier, where each car gets an individual station, one of twelve in total. It matches a dentist’s office for hygiene, flourescence and immaculacy. The powertrain, which comes from VW’s engine plant in Salzgitter, has already underwent eight hours of testing. Three employees then spend about a week assembling the rear of the Chiron around it. The monocoque and front end are then joined together with the appropriate wiring, harnesses, pipes and water pumps; then they connect all that to the rear end.

Step 4: When they say by hand, they really mean it. But the one electronic tool used is vital: the EC nutrunner system records and stores the data curve of every bolt turned to ensure the precise torque value on the 1,800 bolted supercar joints. The tipping point, the monocoque and the rear are then joined with 14 34-gram-light titanium bolts. This is where the steed really begins to take shape.

Step 5: The power phase. The chassis is moved to the world’s most beefy rolling dynamometer. This puppy churns out 1,200 amps to accommodate the 1,500 horsepower and 1,600 Nm, and innovatively recycles the excess power back into the factory’s grid.

Step 6: Here comes the carbon shell and also the part that’s likely the most stressful. The pieces are cumbersome, fragile and obviously quite costly. The pre-assembly and assembly process (200 meters apart from one another) take 3-4 days in an environment surgically lit to highlight even the smallest imperfection.

Step 7: The Chiron is doused in a hurricane of water to make sure that fine-ass leather interior will remain bone dry.

Step 8: The big reveal. The protective foils are removed — a full day’s process — to prep for the test drive. The Chiron is released into the wild for a 300km run, where performance and agility will be tested at speeds up to 155 mph. A driver’s thumbs-up means one more final drive of 50km and a fresh oil change.

Step 9: The Chiron puts on its face. All remaining protective foils are removed and the vehicle is cleaned and polished for two days. After which there is a six-hour inspection in a light tunnel followed by a severely intense “optimization” process. The optimization will take approximately two months, wherein the employee will remove the tiniest blemish and ensure that each centimeter is pristine.  

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