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Do you remember the lead-up to the Veyron? The concept car had a three-bank, W-configured, 18 cylinder powerplant. The postulated horsepower of 1000 blew into the weeds the past two top dogs (the McLaren F1 and Ferrari Enzo). The Veyron promised an excess of excesses. It seemed too outlandish to actually come to fruition.
Excess horsepower, excess weight, excess speed, excess fuel consumption…….everything the strong-willed Ferdinand Piech demanded, and deserving of a pinnacle model. As the guiding light / dictator of VW Group, Piech had previously gone on an acquisition binge buying up Lamborghini, Ducati, Bugatti, Bentley and more. The Bugatti purchase of 1998 was essentially for the rights to the name and logo made famous in the 1920s and 1930‘s by engineering wizard Ettore Bugatti (thus the “EB” in the 2005 Veyron’s full model name).
More historical naming references — the Veyron model was named after Pierre Veyron, a Bugatti engineer and race driver in the interwar years. Together with Jean-Pierre Wimille, the two piloted a French Racing Blue Bugatti to a 1939 LeMans 24 hour victory.
The W-18 of the concept did not see production. Rather, the “16.4” in the Veyron model name represents the 16 cylinders in its engine, and the four turbochargers (one for each bank of cylinders). Think of the engine as two narrow-angle V-8 engines sharing a common crankcase / crankshaft. At introduction, the engine had almost 1000 hp. Though four valves per cylinder…..thats 64 valves, just 4 camshafts. The engine weighs 882 pounds……a couple of hundred pounds more than the old cast-iron big block Chevy of the 1960s……and more than 100 pounds heavier than the 1964-1971 Mopar Hemi.
The Veyron was assembled in Molsheim, France from 2005 to 2015. Planned and actual production run totaled 450 cars. A Targa-roof version called the Grand Sport was released in 2009, and accounted for 150 of the total units. A 1200 hp Vitesse version was available as of 2011. Either of these two options pushed purchase prices above $2 million, and presumably with bespoke options, some cost $3M or more.
Guatemala Verde is a captivating stone, with its green background and black and grey veining. As marbles go, this varietal is rather hard, with my tender finger tips lasting weeks post-completion to support my assertion. In part because of the width, this sculpture weighs more than its cousins of similar length.
Most Veyrons were built with two color paint schemes. The green onyx I’ve employed as the second color is a rather soft stone, and almost wax-like in texture and luster when polished. By heat stressing this stone (blow torch, or high speed sanding disc) the appearance becomes more complex with heat fissuring developing. This heat stressing of onyx technique was employed in this sculpture — increasing as the green onyx sweeps rearward.
The Veyron and bling seem to go hand-in-hand, so further gold marble inlays were employed to match the gold marble wheels. Tires are sculpted from Belge Noir marble……very hard, but very uniform black.
An involved, but very satisfying sculpture. Perhaps I’ll be asked to sculpt a Chiron at some future date?
The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 was my choice to represent France in the Quail Gathering exhibit of Seven Nations – Seven Cars. I can’t think of a more influential post-war French street car, can you?