1999 Bugatti 18/3 Chiron
This wasn't Italdesign's first stab at a Bugatti coupe -- but it was the first true step in creating today's incredible 16.4 Veyron.
Although Italdesign had styled a number of Bugatti concepts (including the 112, 118, and 218 sedans) while Romano Artioli owned the firm, none really impressed Volkswagen, which purchased the company in 1998. Instead of developing another large luxury sedan, VW commissioned Italdesign to craft a Bugatti supercar to succeed the EB110.
Built upon the chassis of a Lamborghini Diablo VT, the 18/3 Chiron -- unveiled at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show -- was an aggressive, angular beast of a supercar. Power -- all 555 horsepower -- was derived from a 6.3-liter W-18 engine, displayed to the world thanks to an exposed engine cover. The interior was remarkably basic, although it was trimmed in saddle-colored leather with blue accents.
At the time, Volkswagen officials suggested a version of the Chiron would be launched at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show, and could potentially reach production by 2002. This time around, VW honored its word: the 16/4 Veyron concept shown in Japan was visually (if not mechanically) similar to the Veyron EB 16.4 that went into production in 2004.