The Bugatti Veyron's birth was not an easy one, that it came to be because one day Volkswagen tsar Ferdinand Piech had a dream: to provide the world with a car that had 1000bhp, cost one million euros and could do over 400km/h (250mph). To begin with the brief seemed impossible but in Piech’s mind, not something that couldn’t happen.

By 1999 there was a styling proposal and even an engine of sorts, initially with 18 cylinders. By 2000 the styling was clearer and the powerplant had been reduced to 16 cylinders, effectively two 4.0-litre VW V8s. A year later VW announced it was indeed going to build the Veyron and that it would have 1001PS (987bhp) and do over 400km/h. Then the real trouble started.

The engineers knew that to announce a car with such huge power and speed claims was one thing, but that to make it was entirely another. For a year and a half they tried, and for a year and a half they failed, until eventually Bugatti's boss, Dr Neuman, was ‘removed.’

Then a new leadership team was brought in in late 2003, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber arriving as the new chief engineer. Having previously been in charge of transmissions at VW/Audi he was the bloke responsible for the original DSG gearboxes.

A few months after that Thomas Bscher, merchant banker, Le Mans race driver and well-known financial trouble-shooter, was appointed as president, having been head-hunted personally by then VW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder.

Then years later and having changed or re-engineered an incredible 95 per cent of the components, the Veyron became reality. And all of Dr Piech’s original dynamic targets had been hit.

Top 5 Hypercars

  • McLaren P1
    The McLaren P1 was one of the most eagerly anticipated hypercars of 2014

    McLaren P1

    1
  • Porsche 918 Spyder
    The 918 is Porsche's new halo hybrid supercar; it has a combined power output of 874bhp and 944lb ft

    Porsche 918 Spyder

    2
  • Ferrari LaFerrari
    LaFerrari was one of the most anticipated cars of 2014

    Ferrari LaFerrari

    3
  • Bugatti Veyron
    The world doesn't need a car like the Bugatti Veyron, but the fact it exists at all is reason for celebration

    Bugatti Veyron

    4
  • Pagani Huayra
    The Pagani Huayra replaces the legendary Zonda; work on it began back in 2005

    Pagani Huayra

    5

First drives

Videos

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion TSI review
    First Drive
    2 June 2015
    The first petrol-powered VW Bluemotion model uses an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that undermines the case for diesel
  • First Drive
    31 May 2015
    Seat's supermini gets news engines, a smarter cabin, more tech and some minor chassis tweaks. Styling remains unchanged, though
  • First Drive
    29 May 2015
    New compact Vauxhall shows lots of promise, but sluggish performance and intrusive road noise leave it trailing its rivals
  • First Drive
    28 May 2015
    BMW's luxurious coupé has been given a style refresh and more equipment. This is our first chance to drive the popular 640d Coupe on UK roads
  • First Drive
    28 May 2015
    We drive Ssangyong's new small SUV, which isn't up with the best in class but is certainly worth consideration as a budget option