With first deliveries of the Bolide – an incomparable track-only Bugatti limited to 40 units only – set to commence next year, Bugatti recently invited future owners to its home in Molsheim for a bespoke motorsport-inspired experiential journey. The carefully curated visit merged the craftsmanship of Bugatti with a visceral dive into the rich on-track heritage that first inspired the concept of the Bolide.
Bolide customers arrived at the Château Saint Jean – the house of Bugatti since 1928 – to immerse themselves in the vision and legacy that helped to create this unique car. Bolide1 was designed to be the purest incarnation of the W16 engine; an unmatched proposition that brings together the most advanced engine in the world with a century of iconic motorsport success. Throughout the day, they would explore the racing history of the brand, soak in the genius of Ettore Bugatti and be inspired by the craftspeople of Molsheim. The culmination of the day was a session with Bugatti’s designer to hone the final bespoke design of their Bolide, having found inspiration from their day spent at the home of Bugatti.
Their immersion into Bugatti’s remarkable racing past then began with an on-road experience with Luigi Galli, Specialist Heritage and Certification at Bugatti, in the most successful racing car of all time – the Bugatti Type 35. Between 1924 and 1930 it is said to have secured more than 2,000 motorsport victories. Once equipped with a race suit matching designs of the past – and even a leather helmet, very much the norm for the late 1920s motorsport scene – customers could experience how revolutionary this car was, and just how well its performance stands up today. In its day, its lightweight, pared-back design and pure driving experience were incomparable and in the modern era it is hard to imagine a better distillation of Bugatti DNA.
With the mighty roar of the Type 35’s innovative engine still ringing in their ears, guests arrived back at the Château to dive into some of Bugatti’s greatest historic motorsport successes, depicted as bespoke sketches by the design team. Among them was the the Type 57G ‘Tank’ driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist at Le Mans 1937; the unbeatable Type 35 driven by Elisabeth Junek in 1929 in Targa Florio; and the Type 13 Brescia. A legendary Type 59/50B III, a Bugatti race car developed under the tutelage of founder Ettore Bugatti that went on to enjoy huge success from 1938 onwards, was also displayed for visitors’ eyes.
Luigi brought the artifacts to life, calling out each car’s innovative features, the heroic stories of its drivers and the historic race wins that each achieved. Guests were taken on a unique motorsport journey showcasing Bugatti’s longstanding and unparalleled innovation across the last century – a journey that leads directly to the Bolide.
With a first-hand appreciation of the Bolide’s inspiration, guests begun their collaboration with Jascha Straub, Sales and Design Executive at Bugatti, to hone and perfect their Bolide. With a relationship built on immense trust, Jascha – who knows every Bolide customer – guided them through this process, discussing historic color combinations and ways to pay tribute to either Bugatti’s past motorsport liveries or even ideas to match customers’ Chiron2 collection. One of them opted for a two-tone Bugatti Blue with dark blue split, in homage to the Le Mans Type 57 G Tank.
With the look decided, and any subtle personalized touches added, the guests had their first seat-fitting, nestling into the Bolide’s buckets to find the most supportive and comfortable position for them. In a car like the Bolide, able to generate up to 2.5G of lateral force, it is important that drivers feel secure. Sitting ahead of the steering wheel, customers had their very first tantalizing glimpse into first unleashing Bolide on the track. The final decision for buyers would be a choice between the more race-focused Alcantara and suede materials or the traditional luxury of leather, as well as the colors for both the Bolide’s seats and steering wheel. As a tribute to Bugatti’s history, one of the colors offered referred to the famous French Racing Blue.
With their imagination sparked – and with the Bolide prototype having recently lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans centenary race – guests had the opportunity to take the Bolide for their very own hot lap on a state-of-the-art simulator that helped to virtually develop the car. With the aerodynamic wheel arches of Bolide stretching virtually out before them, guests could feel the raw power of the Bolide’s W16 engine on the long straight of the Monza track or the advanced aerodynamics providing incomparable stability on the famous high-speed elevated bend, Eau Rouge, at the Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.
Hendrik Malinowski, Managing Director of Bugatti Automobiles, said: “It is always a great pleasure for us to welcome customers here in Molsheim, the home of Bugatti. Every Bugatti hyper sports car is special, but the Bolide is an era-defining moment. The one and only modern track car powered by our legendary W16 engine. For our customers, we curated a unique journey that pays homage to the vision behind Bolide and to its many inspirations in our legendary racing heritage. Creating truly unique experiences for everlasting memories is what drives us every day.”
With the design and creative personalization journey complete, Bolide customers departed Molsheim now as part of Bugatti’s revered on-track history knowing that their motorsport-inspired bespoke Bolide masterpieces – a car that is the first and only modern day Bugatti designed and developed for track-only – are another step closer to completion.
Production of the Bolide will start in the Molsheim Atelier in 2024.