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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where are they now?

I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only enthusiast who saves old magazines.  While cleaning out some old junk, I came across the January 2000 edition of Road & Track.  The cover story is 100 Best Cars of 100 Years.  I assume this is like the Wikipedia of its day to an impressionable fourteen year old. Having said that, the most striking thing about the issue is the Ampersand column which has a short blurb about the Bugatti Veyron Concept.

Bugatti Veyron Concept

Now, we all know that the Bugatti Veyron in production form sports a 8.0 liter quad-turbo W16 which is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.  The 1001 horsepower from that massive power plant gets to the ground through all four contact patches.  This allows for some tenacious grip and a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds.  However, this was not the original vision for the mightiest of supercars.

Bugatti Veyron courtesy of
Having pictures of both the production car and the concept for comparison shows that the production car seems to have gone through the gestation period pretty much intact.  Repeated reports of crashed test mules with bad aerodynamics tell a different story though.  Minute details like a more upright grill and a more bulbous front end seem to be the minor changes.  However,without the aid of a wind tunnel and an aerodynamicist, I'd be hard-pressed to tell any other differences.

Taking a peak under the hood would reveal a major difference.  The Volkswagen group had originally planned on using a 6.3 liter W18 for motivation.  This sounds like an extraordinary bit of engineering.  That is, until that 20/20 hindsight thing kicks in.  That W18 would push out around 555 horsepower.  This doesn't sound like much now considering the 6.3 liter V8 from the boys over at AMG develops 518 horsepower and a spleen-rupturing amount of torque which can be had at a tenth of the price of the Veyron.  It can be assumed that the Vee-dub planners saw the writing on the wall when the Lamborghini Murcielago (also under the VW umbrella) came out in 2001 with a 572 horsepower 6.2 liter V12.

It's refreshing to see that concept cars can make it to production with little change to the jaw-dropping sheet metal that originally made us wade through the car show crowds.  In addition, the ability to be fluid with engineering ideas and execution has allowed the Veyron to rewrite every performance record.  I hope my grandchildren will have the same kind of wonder that made me keep that issue of Road & Track because they'll probably be reading about the Veyron in that January 3000 issue of the 100 Best Cars of 100 Years.

Please let us know how you liked this article and if we should continue with a segment pertaining to concept cars and their production versions.

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