The Bugatti 16 C Galibier concept car design has been patented at the World Intellectual Property Organization.
However, the patent is for the concept car, suggesting that the move is merely to protect the design from being copied, rather than an indication that the car has been given the go-ahead.
Bugatti’s sales director Alisdair Stewart told Autocar at the concept's launch that the decision to put the Galibier into production would be taken by spring next year after the concept car has toured the world to be put in front of prospective customers. If it does see the light of day, he expects up to 300 to be made at the company’s Molsheim HQ from 2013, costing around £900,000.
Officially the Galibier has been designed to gauge customer reaction to a four door, four seat Bugatti, but insiders are keen to make it once Veyron production ends in 2012.
"This is what the Bugatti team wants to do now we have to convince customers and the [VW] group to make it," company boss Franz-Josef Paefgen told Autocar.
The company is staying tight-lipped about technical details. But technical boss Wolfgang Schreiber admitted that he wanted the production Galibier to "be the world’s fastest, highest accelerating and powerful four-door" and hinted that maximum power would end up at around 800bhp.
The Galibier is four-wheel drive and power comes from the same W16 engine as the Veyron, albeit with twin mechanical superchargers, rather than the four-turbochargers of the mid-engined Sportscar.
And unlike the sportscar the Galibier is thought to have a conventional eight-speed torque convertor automatic transmission, rather than a DSG system.
The doors and wings of the Galibier are made from aluminium, but the rest of the body is constructed from carbon-fibre and Schreiber admitted that the front end of the chassis was also largely made from carbon-fibre to add stiffness and weight.
Insiders won’t comment on the target weight of the production car, merely that it is set to be the lightest car in its class.
The styling is said to be influenced by the famous Bugatti Type 57 Atlantique which is why the Galibier is a hatchback, rather than a conventional saloon and has a characteristic spine running down the entire body.
The basic architecture is also said to be inspired by the so called ‘fuselage’ styling of the Type 35 and echoed by the Veyron. The four-seat cabin is more luxury oriented than the Veyron and extremely minimalist.