Bugatti Veyron, This Is Your Life
"We're not at all suggesting Volkswagen's brightest minds took to Shakespeare before embarking on the perilously fraught journey that is the Bugatti Veyron, but you can't help but detect more than a note of Twelfth Night about its conception.
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them." It's fair to say all three scenarios apply to the Big Bad Bug'.
In fact, we don't even need to pillage the Bard to attribute majesty to this thing; Jeremy summed it up on the show many moons ago when he proclaimed it to be "the greatest car ever made and the greatest car we will ever see in our lifetime".
Borne to a cynical world, packing physics-defying power and becoming the defining car for a generation of petrolheads, the Veyron is the ultimate in excess. It's got 16 cylinders, for goodness sake, and is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds. Every day of the week.
So as the company announces the Grand Sport Vitesse - not, in case you're wondering, a homage to Rover but in fact a very fast roadster - we thought it time to remind you of all the Veyron editions. And there's more than you might remember..."
Words: Vijay Pattni
Photos: Bugatti Bugatti Veyron, This Is Your Life - BBC Top Gear Bugatti Veyron
This is your standard-variety, battery-farmed Bugatti Veyron. And it's all about the numbers. We're talking an 8.0-litre, W16 engine packing 1,001hp and 921lb ft of torque.
0-62mph takes 2.5 seconds, 0-124mph takes 7.3 seconds, 0-186mph takes 16.7 seconds and the top speed is, of course, 253mph. All in a package weighing 1,888kg. Bugatti Veyron Pur Sang
You'd better have cast-iron stones to steal Lamborghini's thunder at a motor show. Luckily, Bugatti rocked up with one very precious stone: the limited-to-five-models Pur Sang edition.
Unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show and translated as ‘pure blood', nothing changes mechanically barring a 100kg weight reduction. No, this Veyron is finished in raw aluminium and carbon fibre: basically, sans paint. Quite stunning, really.
Bugatti Veyron Fbg by Hermes
Apparently, Ettore Bugatti and Emile Hermes met in the 1920s; Ettore wanted a bespoke suitcase for his Royale. Eighty years later at the 2008 Geneva motor show, the two names meet in the Hermes edition.
What you're looking at is a two-tone paint job - with the hood colour extending to the interior cockpit - eight-spoke alloys in polished aluminium, wheel locks branded with the Hermes ‘H', interior air vents with Hermes' saddle-stitching, a radiator grille with interlocking H motifs, and an interior finished in bull calfskin. You even get a Hermes wallet and leather case thrown in. A bargain at €1.55m a pop. Bugatti Veyron Sang Noir
Again, no mechanical changes (would you complain with a thousand brake?), just a cosmetics job. It's dedicated to the original Bugatti Atlantique of the 30s, features an all-black exterior with unpainted carbon fibre panels, aluminium side mirrors and a tan coloured interior. Just 15 were built, apparently. Think of it as the Batman-spec Bugatti. Bugatti Veyron Bleu Centenaire
Built as a 100th year birthday present to the company, the Centenaire is, surprisingly, blue. It sports the "most known light shaded Bugatti blue", covering the outside (two-tone) and parts of the engine, while the roof-trim stripes and mirrors are polished aluminium.
Inside there's ‘snow beige' leather with quilting on the seats, new LED lights and park distance control. Because you're worth it. Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport
Presumably fed up of being the purveyor of the world's most famous fast car, Bugatti turned its considerable nous to the roadster market. So when the production run of 300 Veyron coupes was spoken for, the company turned up to Pebble Beach in 2008 with a new model: the Grand Sport.
At the time it was the fastest roadster in this and many other galaxies, and features a higher windscreen, stylised daytime running lights, and a lightweight, transparent polycarbonate roof.
Because the roof was chopped, Bugatti reinforced the monocoque structure round the side skirts and transmission tunnel, stiffened the B-pillars with carbon fibre supports and positioned a central carbon plate underneath the gearbox. The doors are of carbon fibre variety, and the leather is moisture-resistant. We'll let your imagination laugh its way out of that one.
Roof up, the GS can hit 253mph, and with it down, will top 224mph. In fact, should a troublesome spot of rain attack your scalp, you can open up an "innovative folding roof" like an umbrella at any time. With this in place, you'll be able to hit 80mph. Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Sang Bleu
Apparently Mr Bugatti used to love experimenting with materials, somewhat explaining the sheer number of special edition models available. This is mechanically identical to the standard Grand Sport, and features blue carbon fibre and polished aluminium. It's also a one-off.
Bugatti Veyron L'Or Blanc
White Gold is the theme here. That's what ‘L'Or Blanc' means, a suffix attached to the one-off porcelain Veyron. Bugatti reckons it's the first car in the world to wear porcelain inside and out. The wheel centres, fuel and oil filler caps, EB badge on the rear, centre console surround and rear interior centre trim are all finished in china.
And there's only one in the world. And it cost £1.48m. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
Ah yes, now we can turn our attention to the black and orange instrument of thunder and destruction known as the Super Sport. For once, it is actually a faster version of the garden-variety Veyron.
It gets larger turbochargers and bigger intercoolers to boost power from that venomous 8.0-litre engine to 1,184bhp; the chassis has been tweaked with a raised main spring travel, stronger stabilisers, new shock absorbers and a skin made entirely of carbon fibre composites.
Two NACA ducts on the roof feed new air into the engine, while the front intakes have been enlarged and reshaped. As such, these revisions helped Captain Slow achieve a top speed at Volkswagen's Ehra-Lessien test track of 259mph, setting the production car speed record.
Then a man from Volkswagen named Pierre strapped himself in and did two runs.
He posted an average of 268mph, and thus set the record for the fastest production car in the world and more importantly, stole James' thunder. Git. Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse
Correctly, Bugatti identified that its Grand Sport clientele wanted the power of the Super Sport with the glamour and magic of a roadster. Enter the Grand Sport Vitesse.
1,184bhp and 1,105lb ft of torque, and you get the world's fastest and most powerful convertible in the history of our species. It's safe to say humanity can give Bugatti engineers a hearty slap on the back.
To which they'll simply and politely nod, "danke".