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Here’s what Bugatti’s 1,500-horsepower Chiron could have looked like

Jaws dropped earlier this year at the Geneva Auto Show when Bugatti unveiled the brand new Chiron. The megacar was, predictably, a toned-down version of the earlier Vision Gran Turismo concept, but show-goers were nonetheless left awestruck by the bold new design. Now, Bugatti has candidly opened up and revealed what the Veyron’s successor could have looked like.

Read more: 11 radiators, 16 cylinders, 1,500 horses — how Bugatti built the monstrous Chiron

Bugatti parent company Volkswagen held a friendly contest among its brands when it came time to replace the Veyron. Designers from all over the Volkswagen empire, from SEAT all the way up to Lamborghini, were asked to submit a sketch that showed what they thought Bugatti’s next model should look like. The winning design was the work of Sasha Selipanov, a young designer who helped pen the Lamborghini Huracán.

Selipanov retained the horseshoe-shaped grille, a key Bugatti styling cue that has characterized the brand’s cars for decades. However, he took the company’s design language in an unprecedented direction by fitting the front end with pronounced horizontal vents framed by thin LED daytime running lights and accented by equally thin turn signals. Most dramatic of all are the headlights, which are completely blacked-out and discreetly integrated into the aforementioned vents. A carbon fiber splitter underlines the fascia.

Bugatti invited Selipanov to join its design department full-time. A model of the design proposal was quickly built, but members of the Volkswagen board sent the team back to the drawing board after they saw the front end because they found it too polarizing, according to CNET’s Roadshow. The two blacked-out lights were replaced with eight ultra-bright units and the grilles were toned down, paving the way for the final design that was shown in Geneva. The side and the back end of the design study made the jump from prototype to production with only minor tweaks.