Bugatti lifts curtain on Chiron production line

Building and testing any production car is a fiendishly complex undertaking, but some cars require more time and attention than others – Bugatti’s new supercar, for example. Production of the Bugatti Chiron has officially started in Molsheim, and the company has peeled back the curtain to show the world how 1,800 individual parts come together to make someone’s dream a very, very expensive reality.

The production process starts, as you’d expect, with the customer nailing down the final specification of their car. Potential owners sit down with a consultant from Bugatti and run through the full range of options, choosing from a huge palette of standard paints and eight different carbon fiber weaves for the exterior before moving to the interior.

Here’s a hot tip: if you’re not good at making decisions, don’t try and configure the cabin of a Chiron. As if choosing between 31 different types of leather and eight shades of suede wasn’t enough, you can select a dizzying array of carpet, seatbelt and stitching options. And if that still isn’t enough, the team at Le Maison Pur Sang is able to make an owner’s most intricate fancies come to life with custom paint finishes, interior trims and option packs.

Once the customer has signed off on their final configuration, a production slot is assigned to the car and parts are ordered, starting a process generally spanning nine months. Before all the additional parts arrive, the naked bodyshell is assembled and sent to the paint shop, where it’s lavished with up to eight coats of paint. Each layer is done by hand, sanded back and polished before the next is applied – while cars with naked carbon fiber on the outside go through a separate, equally time consuming process.

Unlike most car factories, Bugatti’s facility in Molsheim isn’t fitted with conveyer belts or robots. The entire production process is carried out by hand across 12 individual stations, each of which is responsible for a small part of the overall construction of the car. The first station takes the quad-turbo W16, which comes pre-assembled from VW in Salzgitter, and prepares it for insertion into the chassis, before the second stop actually installs it.

Given its remarkable 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) of power and 1,600 Nm of torque, the engine can’t simply be dropped into the rear of the Chiron and bolted into place like most cars. The whole rear end is actually built around the engine, while the base monocoque and front end are connected and the wiring looms linked. Around the same time as all of this, the pipes connecting the engine with its front radiators are hooked up.

Having married the rear end with the monocoque, a feat which requires just 14 titanium bolts, the four wheels are bolted on and the car rolls forward to its next station, where all the fluids are put into the car, and the engine is fired up for the first time.