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Here’s how Bugatti builds its 1,500-horsepower, 261-mile-per-hour Chiron

Production of the Bugatti Chiron is ramping up at the automaker’s Molsheim factory, in the Alsace region of France. The long-awaited successor to the Veyron is expected to begin deliveries in the first quarter of this year. But what exactly does it take to build a 1,500-horsepower, 261-mph supercar?

It takes time and patience, according to Bugatti. As with the Chiron itself, production comes with some impressive figures. Bugatti expects to deliver just 70 cars this year, with each taking an average of six months to build. A group of just 20 employees assemble each Chiron from more than 1,800 individual parts, by hand.

Even the factory itself is special. Founder Ettore Bugatti established his eponymous automaker in Molsheim in 1909, although the current factory only dates to 2005, when Veyron production started. Known as the Atelier, the 1,000-square-meter (10,763-square-foot) building has an oval shape, referencing the Bugatti logo. Unlike most modern car factories, it also lacks robots and conveyor belts. Instead, the Bugatti factory has individual work stations, like a Formula One team’s workshop.

There are 12 stations in all. The 1,500-hp quad-turbocharged, 8.0-liter W16 engine is assembled offsite at one of Bugatti parent Volkswagen’s engine plants, and is prepped for installation at the first station. It’s then married to the chassis, construction of which starts about a month before the formal assembly process. The rear end is then assembled around the powertrain, and joined to the rest of the car. Fourteen titanium bolts hold the front and back halves of the Chiron together.

Once the chassis is assembled, the car is tested on a dynamometer (essentially a treadmill for cars) to ensure its engine is producing maximum power. Bugatti actually does this before the bodywork is installed. Once those bits are added, the car is subjected to a simulated rainstorm for 30 minutes to ensure there are no leaks. After that, the interior is fitted and the Chiron is taken for a test drive. This includes both on-road driving and speed runs of up to 250 kph (155 mph) on an airport runway.

After testing is completed, the Chiron gets a thorough visual inspection. An employee examines each painted car in a “light tunnel” for over six hours, and then sends it back to the paint booth to fix any blemishes. That process can take between three hours and three weeks, according to Bugatti, depending on what exactly needs to be addressed. Each car is then personally approved by Christophe Piochon, the carmaker’s head of production, as well as the heads of sales, quality assurance, and customer service. After all of the work that goes into it, almost seems a shame to actually drive a Chiron on public roads and risk damaging it. Almost.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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