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FLASH: First pictures of Bugatti's 16C Galibier concept

September 14, 2009 |  9:50 am
The question of what Bugatti is going to do with itself once it completes the Veyron's run of 300 cars (and potentially 150 Grand Sports) may have been answered today when Bugatti President (and Bentley Chief Executive) Franz Josef Paefgen unveiled the concept 16C Galibier at the company headquarters is Dorlisheim. With the Veyron's W16 engine turned around and put under the hood, and here fitted with two-stage superchargers (instead of the Veyron's four turbochargers), the Galibier will have ample low-end torque at low engine rpm, which is more fitting for a four-passenger car. Though Wolfgang Schreiber, Bugatti's head of technical development, declined to be specific, you can figure on between 920 and 1,000 pound-feet of torque. The company is targeting a top speed of 240 mph, which would handily establish the Galibier as the fastest four-door car in the world.

Bugatti_New_3 Bugatti has no clear idea what they should charge for such a car. The Veyron costs about $1.8 million, depending on the exchange rate at the moment.  Paefgen said he was thinking "in the neighborhood" of the Veyron. Some neighborhood.

The Galibier -- the name comes from a French Alpine pass that was applied to Bugatti's historic four-door saloons -- is by no means a sure thing. Paefgen said the company will be taking the car to owner events and special showings around the world to gauge the potential market. Then Bugatti will have to take its case to the VW Group board for approval. The soonest a decision could come is next spring; after that, according to Schreiber, it would take three years to bring the car to market.

In person, the concept car -- overseen by Bugatti exterior designer Achim Anscheidt -- is stunning. It's a little larger than the Bentley Continental GT, with broad, scalloped flanks rolling into the front wings, all in polished aluminum, and the remaining bodywork is fabricated out of tinted carbon fiber. The structural chassis will be aluminum and carbon. Schreiber says the car will be lighter than any comparable four-door car, but what car he might be thinking of escapes me.

Bugatti_exhaust The fastback rear design strongly evokes the Type 57 SC Atlantic with a slight raised spine limned in LED, the curvature of the trunk lid opening echoing the Atlantic's trunk lid, and the quad exhausts -- two sets, for a total of eight tailpipes.

The interior is similarly spectacular, with a burled walnut surfboard-like console running between the front and rear cabin. There are only two instruments in the dash -- a speedo and tach. In front of the driver is an LCD screen with a kind of iPhone interface, allowing drivers to leaf through applications.

In a token bid of environmental responsibility, the car will run on petrol and be compatible with bioethanol, but you can tell talking to the Bugatti execs that their hearts simply are not into the carbon equation.

Quote of the day: "Our customers have said to us, when my neighbors ask about carbon, you [Bugatti] must come up with an answer," said Paefgen.

--Dan Neil

Full release to follow.

<Bugatti_new_2 The Bugatti 16 C Galibier Concept

The most exclusive, elegant, and powerful four door Automobile in the World Molsheim, Elsass, 14 September, 2009 – As the climax of its centenary celebration ceremonies, Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. presented customers and opinion-makers with the Bugatti 16 C Galibier concept, intended to be the most exclusive, elegant, and powerful four door automobile in the world last weekend in Molsheim. At the historic site where Ettore Bugatti once laid the cornerstone of his company, Bugatti’s current president, Dr. Ing. Franz-Josef Paefgen emphasised that the Galibier is one of several concept studies with which the company is considering for the future of the Bugatti marque.

Art - Forme - Technique: those are the brand values to which Ettore Bugatti and his son Jean oriented themselves in order to develop even more powerful engines and even more noble body designs for each new model, which were without equal in quality, handling, speed and elegance. In the process, they experimented again and again without compromise with new materials; thus was Bugatti one of the first manufacturers to use aluminum parts for bodies, engine blocks and wheels.

Art - Forme - Technique are also the brand values to which the design and engineering team of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. oriented themselves in the development of the Galibier. With this new four-door concept car, Bugatti assumes anew a leading role in the use of new material combinations. Thus the body is constructed of handmade carbon fibre parts coloured dark blue so that, when illuminated, the woven structure shimmers through strikingly. Carbon fibre not only possesses unusually great rigidity but is also especially light.  The wings and doors are out of polished aluminium.

The Galibier’s design masters the challenge of uniting sportiness with the comfort and elegance of a modern four-door saloon. The basic architecture picks up on the torpedo-like character of the Type 35,which was already revived in the Veyron, and reinterprets it. With the typical Bugatti radiator grille, big round LED headlights and the clamshell running the length of the vehicle which became synonymous with the brand identity under Jean Bugatti in the Type 57, this car transports the Bugatti genes into the modern world.

Beneath the bonnet, which folds back from both sides, there resides a 16-cylinder, 8-litre engine with twostage supercharging. What makes this engine special is that it was developed as a flex-fuel engine and can optional be run on ethanol. Four-wheel drive, specially developed ceramic brakes and a new suspension design enable the agile, always-sure handling of a saloon of this size.

The interior reflects the elemental design of the exterior. The dash panel has been reduced to the essential; two centrally located main instruments keep even the rear passengers constantly informed of the actual speed and previous performance. Parmigiani, the Swiss maker of fine watches, created the removable Reverso Tourbillon clock for the Galibier, which may be worn on the wrist thanks to a cleverly designed leather strap.  

“Galibier” is not just the name of one of the most difficult alpine passes along the Tour de France but, in its time, was a version of the four door Type 57 unequalled in sportiness and elegance.


Photo credit: Bugatti