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.

Fast forward a decade and the Veyron's successor made it from paper to production in the form of a 1479bhp, a 260mph plus evolution - otherwise known as the Bugatti Chiron.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Audi RS4 Avant
    Car review
    23 February 2018
    Rapid, sure-footed, practical, comfortable, classy: can the new RS4 Avant really be all these things?
  • First Drive
    22 February 2018
    Rear-drive V8 version of the former 4WD FF V12 is a quick, long-legged GT that offers things others don’t
  • First Drive
    22 February 2018
    Kia's seven-seat SUV has had a mid-life facelift and is loaded with kit. Is that enough for this range-topping version to match premium rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport?
  • Honda Civic Type R
    First Drive
    22 February 2018
    It’s a warm welcome to this steaming hot hatch. But is it too fiery for Britain’s roads?
  • Bentley Bentayga V8
    First Drive
    21 February 2018
    The hugely capable high-end SUV is now available with a V8 engine. Does a smaller engine makes it an even more compelling luxury offering?