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On a late October 1999 Auto Show in Tokyo, Ferdinand Piëch presented the fourth new Bugatti prototype, the Bugatti 18/4 Veyron, again a name taken from a famous official Bugatti driver of the past.

This all new Veyron was still based on the Chiron chassis, which as we all know already was taken from a Diablo VT, because of the great four-wheel drive configuration, one of the best choices available to try and master the 650 Nm of torque and some 555 Bhp of the W18 engine.

A first glance at the new Bugatti showed very high potential, the car screamed speed from every angle, emphasized by the special three color paint job on the shown prototype, two big air intakes were visible at the front of the car, just underneath the typical Bugatti horseshoe grille, which in case of the Veyron was very well integrated into the overall design of the front, this functional grille was accompanied by two large light units using the by now standard Xenon(r) technology.

When looking at the front of the car, two small air intakes are visible on the top of the car, these were used to pull air into the engine compartment, but were also mounted this way for sheer looks, they made the car look like a real jet fighter for road use. Just as with the Chiron, the engine wasn’t completely covered, the top of two of the three 60 degree, 6-Cylinder rows remained visible.

To the side of the car, two big air intakes were also blended into the design, these would cool down the massive rear disk brakes, which were covered by giant 20 inch wheels with 335/30 tires.

The rear of the car also meant business, twin round lights were used and the initials of the founder of Bugatti were centrally mounted, the exhaust pipes were also very special, three pipes were used in a centre mounted unit.

This new Veyron was only 4380 mm long and with a height of 1206 mm coupled to a width of just over 2 metres, the Bugatti was very impressive to look at, even at a standstill. By using the known 555 Bhp W18 engine and the extensive use of Carbon Fibre on the bodywork, a top speed of well over 330 Km/h. would be available.

For the interior about the same materials as on the Chiron were used, a kind of Havana/red colored nubuk leather, combined with brushed aluminum made the interior look as sporty and exclusive as the bodywork, the central console actually housed a chronometer, probably to time your accelerations. Also on this console was the gear lever for the 5 speed manual gearbox installed in this early Veyron model.

Overall the new Bugatti Veyron, designed by Hartmut Warknuss (head of Volkswagen’s Center of Excellence Design), looked really good, the impression it made on the Tokyo Car show visitor’s was great, but if this car would actually be produced was unknown by the time Tokyo closed it’s doors.

Rather surprisingly, Bugatti unveiled a new evolution of the Veyron in 2000, now finished in a refreshing silver metallic paint job, this new Bugatti didn’t use the W18 engine anymore, a completely new 16 cylinder engine was mounted, still visible from the outside to impress onlookers.

During 2000 this car was extensively tested by Bugatti, and rumours of production started to go around, when the 2001 Geneva Auto Show opened it’s doors another evolution of this new super car was shown, again painted in the classic Bugatti blue, this car perhaps didn’t show much difference except for the wheels, but underneath things were modified heavily, but the best was yet to come …

On the 2001 Frankfurt Auto Show, when the brand new Lamborghini Murciélago was unveiled, Bugatti performed another trick, they showed the, what they say, final prototype of the Veyron 16/4, using an 8-Liter W16 engine with four turbo’s, this car could put no less than 1001 Bhp at 6000 rpm on all four wheels with a massive torque of 1250 Nm.

This ‘red’ Veyron still used the four wheel drive from the first prototype, but that’s about all it had in common, for starters a new seven speed sequential gearbox now was installed, an enlarged wheelbase of 2700 mm gave an overall length of 4466 mm, still 1996 mm wide and only 1206 mm high, this Bugatti looked fast and furious, but would it perform too ?

According to Bugatti it will, when they finally start deliveries of this $700,000 car, the customer can be sure he’ll end up with the fastest thing on the road, a top speed of 406 Km/h (252,3 Mph) was quoted ! Bugatti will even ship out a special engineer to the owner to perform high speed testing, preparation for a 400 Km/h top speed run will include different programming of the engine electronics and even fitting special Michelin tires, just for this run, afterwards these will again be removed by the engineer.

Let’s wait and see the first independent tests on this new exotic when it actually hits the streets …