Bugatti – Three unknown models

Since the Volkswagen Group bought the rights to the sports car brand Bugatti and revived it, there have only been two production vehicles in the form of Veyron and Chiron, as well as the strictly limited offshoots Divo and Centodieci. Behind the scenes, however, there were repeated considerations to expand the model range, although only the Galibier sports saloon was shown publicly at motor shows and car events. Just like some other projects, serial production was rejected. Chief designer Achim Anscheidt and his team are constantly trying to advance the brand and therefore draw new ideas on paper and on the computer. For they recently opened the design department exclusively and showed three designs that were unknown to the public before. While two never made the transition from design project to a 1:1 scale rolling model, the Atlantic study shows a possible front-engined coupé next to the Chiron.

Under the name Atlantic there was already a sports car in the period of company founder Ettore Bugatti, which was based on the Type 57 and was only produced four times. For the Monterey Car Week 2015, head of design Anscheidt developed a new front-engined coupé with this name. In keeping with the historical model, an eight-cylinder engine was to be installed under the long bonnet, which would have placed the Atlantic as an exclusive touring vehicle underneath the Chiron. The transmission would have been moved to the rear axle in transaxle design. Nevertheless, a carbon monocoque and a pure two-seater configuration should have been used. Some invisibly installed components would have been taken from the large corporate construction shelfs. Visually, the Atlantic picks up on some of the Chiron’s peculiarities, such as the four square LED headlights per side or the accentuated C-line. However, butterfly doors were chosen, which are hinged at the top and bottom of the A-pillars.

All preparations for a world premiere of the Atlantic had already been completed. Even posters with computer generated images of the car, which among other things show a possible convertible variant, had already been printed and now adorn a wall in the Bugatti Design Center. For what reason the premiere of Pebble Beach was postponed to another time isn’t quite clear today. It is all the more clear, however, that the chances of series production have dropped to zero as a result of this decision. Only one month after Monterey Car Week, the diesel scandal was revealed. Initially, it primarily affected the Volkswagen Group and caused panic among all the associated brands. Projects that would have cost a lot of money were immediately put on ice. Even successful motorsport programs like Audi’s in WEC or VW’s in WRC were stopped as quickly as possible. It is therefore hardly surprising that Bugatti’s Atlantic project had to disappear into a drawer – or, in the case of the showcar already assembled, that a secret car depot was enriched with an exhibit. Hadn’t the Chiron been in its final development stage already at that time, these drastic measures would have stopped this project as well.

This red open two-seater never made it beyond drawings on computer screens. According to Achim Anscheidt it is based on the Veyron Grand Sport. As a Veyron Barchetta, this vehicle could have come onto the market in an extremely limited edition. Interestingly, the car already shows some of the design features of the Divo, which only debuted a few years later. These include the unusual headlights with LED daytime running lights and the basic shape of the air inlets and outlets at the front and sides of the car. However, the rear end was much more conventional with a continuous band of lights, while the Divo features various LED rods. In keeping with the Barchetta theme, the windshield was short and wide. Alternatively, a Roadster with a higher windscreen would have been conceivable. Above the headrests are the air collectors for the W16 engine, which is installed directly behind the passengers, as in the Veyron. Since all 450 planned Veyron models had already been pre-ordered and an extension of the series for this special edition was therefore no longer conceivable, series development no longer took place. In addition, under the then Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer, there was no one who would have advocated such small series. Meanwhile Stephan Winkelmann, then boss of Lamborghini, had low-volume models such as the Sesto Elemento, the Reventón or the Veneno in his portfolio. Only when Winkelmann moved his office to Bugatti did the picture change there.

With approximately the same dimensions as the Atlantic, another sports coupé was created, but with significantly more modern design features and the W16 engine from the Chiron in front of the passenger cell. At the time the project was discontinued, there wasn’t even a final name for it. Therefore, this car is still simply called the ‘W16 Coupé’. In contrast to the Atlantic, this would have been a purely manufactured vehicle, which wouldn’t have contained any identical parts with other cars from VW Group. It isn’t surprising that Anscheidt estimated the possible sales price of a strictly limited series version at “over 15 million US dollars”. This vehicle was designed at about the same time as the Atlantic, but wasn’t realized as a life-size study. Stephan Winkelmann, on the other hand, was enthusiastic about the designs when he joined the company and was inspired by them to create ‘La Voiture Noire’, which is currently being realized in cooperation with a VIP customer on the basis of a Chiron and made its debut as a concept car at the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) last year.

Bugatti is expected to present a new project at the same location in a few days. At least the sports car brand has been giving some small hints since the beginning of the year. Parallel to Chiron, Divo and Centodieci, the program could thus be expanded to include a fourth limited edition model. After all, we can assume that this new model will shine in the spotlight, which was denied to Atlantic, Veyron Barchetta and W16 Coupé.

Images: Bugatti,, Ronan Glon