McLaren MP4-12C, Lexus LFA, Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 and Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Andrew Yeadon
supercars

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport: A Singular Experience.

There's no shortage of facts and figures to describe this car, but it's the price that best explains the Bugatti Veyron. Even with a sticker well in excess of $1 million, Volkswagen loses money on each car. Why? Well, everything is bespoke, not to mention that the Veyron was designed well before the carbon-fiber advancements now being exploited by Lexus, Lamborghini, and McLaren to build composite cars at a fraction of the Bugatti's price. Not that it matters. Even if there are quicker, less expensive methods for making the monocoque, Bugatti wouldn't have them. In addition to its physical feats, the Veyron's seven-figure price is held up by the craft and tradition of a handmade car. So, just as producing carbon fiber is a labor-intensive process, the bolts in the Veyron must be hand-turned in Molsheim, France. It all pays off -- at least from the Volkswagen Group's perspective -- because the Veyron parlays technical achievement into a marketing message louder than a Formula 1 effort -- and for less money.

The Veyron's engine runs too hot to be covered by a plate of glass. That's just as well, because it's too beautiful to be obscured. Every piece of this car is a work of art. The intake manifolds are held in place by sixteen bolts, each one with a stylized EB embossed in the head. The symmetrical polished filler caps -- one for gasoline and the other for 16.9 quarts of oil -- are jewelry on the rear flanks. You'll be hard-pressed to find more than five pieces of plastic in the leather-and-aluminum-filled cabin.

The Grand Sport's contribution to 1001-hp motoring isn't just the transparent, removable hard top. Take notice of the two football-sized snorkels right above the driver's and passenger's heads, which punctuate the flat-out acceleration experience when the roof is removed. The Veyron clears its throat with a snort followed by the breathy buildup of a 747 taking off a few inches from your skull and the snare-drum patter of sixteen cylinders firing. At first you think the Veyron might suck the cochlea out of your ear before you realize that what the Bugatti really wants is to separate your head from your spine.

Say you motor up to 20 mph with the transmission in automatic mode before flattening the gas pedal. The blue beast contemplates downshifting from second to first all while the four turbochargers furiously, and very audibly, spool up behind your head. The awkward pause leaves enough time to wonder "where's the power?" But this is the wrong question. The calm before the storm is better spent preparing yourself. When the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic eventually finds first, the horsepower gauge on the instrument cluster rips from 60 hp to some 800 hp, at which point looking at the horsepower gauge becomes patently suicidal. Whatever was ahead of you -- no matter how far away -- is now in the rearview mirror.

Just as mind-blowing is the fact that the Veyron drives with all the drama of an Audi A8 when you're loafing down the road. The rock-hard, tailored Michelins thump loudly on the pavement but make only a minimal impact on ride quality. It is this dichotomy -- that a car so capable of face-melting performance can also be so luxurious -- that defines the Veyron. There will be faster and more expensive cars someday, but there will never be another car like this.

Turning fabric into plastic
Tows are bundled, woven, or braided into tapes, sheets, or three-dimensional forms before the resin is cured to create a rigid piece. With preimpregnated (or prepreg) construction, tows are coated in resin before they are arranged into the final shape. In other methods, the resin is pressed into dry carbon-fiber pieces. Both approaches require pressure to evenly distribute the resin and heat to cure it. Because CFRP parts derive so much of their strength from the fibers themselves, the tows are typically aligned in the direction of the highest forces. For parts that are subject to high stresses in multiple axes, several layers may be stitched or laminated together with the fibers oriented in various directions.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

BASE PRICE $1,900,000 (est.)

POWERTRAIN
ENGINE
64-valve DOHC quad-turbo W-16
DISPLACEMENT 8.0 liters (488 cu in)
POWER 1001 hp @ 6000 rpm
TORQUE 922 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
DRIVE 4-wheel

CHASSIS
STEERING
Hydraulically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Control arms, coil springs
BRAKES Carbon-ceramic vented discs, ABS
TIRES Michelin Pilot Sport PAX
TIRE SIZE F, R 265-680/YR-500, 365-710/YR-540

MEASUREMENTS
L x W x H
175.7 x 78.7 x 47.4 in
WHEELBASE 106.7 in
TRACK F/R 67.5/63.7 in
WEIGHT 4530 lb*
WEIGHT DIST. F/R 44/56%*
EPA mileage 8/15 mpg
0-60 MPH 2.9 sec*
TOP SPEED 253 mph
*Veyron 16.4 coupe figures

4 of 4
parkerboy2000
but wouldnt it be easyer to jut seal the crack with a strong ressin?
rob_krebs
Great article, Eric Tingwall! I absolutely agree with you that the cars of tomorrow will be made of strong, lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), and thanks to research and new developments, this won't be nearly as costly or time consuming as once thought. In fact, it was recently announced at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Conference that long GLASS fiber can now be modeled in Moldflow for plastics engineers, resulting in even more lightweight structural parts without the expense of carbon, and even more possibilities for the use of CFRP in automobiles.For more on CFRP car parts, visit: http://www.facebook.com/plasticcar and http://www.plastics-car.com/Resources/Resource-Library/Long-Glass-Fiber-Molding.html Rob Krebs, Market Innovations, American Chemistry Council
sschewe
I also remain a tad skeptical. I am an Audi Quattro aficionado, and Audi has certainly built a lot of A8s and R8s, but I hear that body repairs are expensive and must be done at special places.Carbon fiber??? I think NOT for street cars---as it's even worse than aluminum.BTW---we're leasing a Subie Impreza with four doors, room for four real sized people and AWD for the snowy MI where I live. It weighs 3050 pounds! It is composed of rally proven, tough, high strength steel---not even exotic aluminum is required.
andyoo
Disagree with this article. I have carbon fiber wheels and frame on my bike. When it crashes and have any crack or damage, the frame/wheel has to be replaced. There is no fixing on carbon. For exotic car, the owner can afford a replacement. For regular joe, it's too expansive to replace a car just becase there is a small damage to one part of the car. Like a fender bender will probably make your car unsafe if it's carbon. Plus it's hard to find damage since the crack could be under the clear coat, making it structurally unsafe.
Alleycat10
I can see it already. Plastic burns quite well. Regardless of the added plastic, fasteners will be of steel that corrodes. Many a mechanic gets out the torch to cut or heat stubborn corroded fasteners to make repairs or do replacements. Play that torch on or near plastic components and burn they will, and quite rapidly at that, quickly making a pile of ash, hot steel parts and melted/warped aluminum wheels behind.

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