The car forms part two of the six-part series of Grand Sport Vitesse open-top specials; three of each will be built, and this one celebrates the life and work of Ettore’s third child, Jean, who penned several of the marque’s cars during the 1930s including the Bugatti Atlantic Type 57SC that lends some heavy-handed cues to the new variant.
Jean Bugatti’s name is, of course, more than worthy of gracing any car from the legendary Molsheim manufacturer. It’s a tribute to his design work, but also his dedication and bravery – Jean tragically died while testing the Type 57C ‘Tank’ less than two months after it had triumphed at Le Mans, co-driven by one Pierre Veyron.
It’s fair to say the Veyron’s special edition’s design flourishes won’t be to everyone’s taste: they include black carbonfibre exterior finish, Guinness-tone leather upholstery with the 57SC’s profile reprised on the door cards and a sketch of Jean’s face etched into the kick plates. It’s not subtle, but it will surely find three buyers.
Then there are 12 more special-edition models to come in the series, leaving around 50 Veyron Grand Sport Vitesses to sell before the 150 target is reached (the last of 300 Veyron coupés were eventually sold last year), to be followed by a possible 1500bhp mega-Veyron swansong next year.
But even well heeled collectors will tire of the churn of specials – editions like the Pur Sang, Fbg par Hermès, Sang Noir, Bleu Centenaire and L’Edition Centenaire that came before have dulled the sheen of true exclusivity, especially if you assume that, at least latterly, they’ve been introduced to help shift the remaining stock, which has proved no easy task in a world that’s considerably less flush than when the Veyron was conceived.
What’s more, ubiquity, no matter how relative, harms residuals of any model line.
How about a new model, then? No dice: 300 Bugatti Galibier saloons (the next most obvious body type to produce) were once planned to start production this year, but the project is currently unjustifiable, especially when pitched against VW’s big push for ‘e-mobility’ at this year’s Frankfurt motor show. And Bug leaves delving into more accessible markets to other brands in VW’s stable.
So what to do? Well, how about changing Bugatti’s role to become VW Group’s extreme skunkworks – along the lines of McLaren Special Operations? Cars would be built to individual customer specifications, with all kinds of flights of fancy possible for sums undreamed by those of us who haven’t yet booked a trip to space. People like the Veyron owner I saw recently who had a Lamborghini Aventador for each of his two minders. I wish I were joking.
The Veyron’s otherworldly mechanicals could live on underneath these truly exclusive special commissions. The company wasn’t averse to such practice under the Bugatti family – one example is the 12.8-litre Bugatti Type 41 ‘Royale’ that, once economic conditions meant the planned production of 25 cars became unjustifiable, hosted all manner of eccentric coachwork requested by the glitterati.
One of the six built was a ludicrously long swoop of lime green known as the Royal Esders Roadster. Its designer? A young Jean Bugatti.