Bugatti has launched its fastest, lightest car ever and its website crashed as enthusiasts thronged to watch the unveiling. If you tuned into the live launch stream on bugatti.com all you got was a screen full of code, but YouTube viewers were able to catch the reveal of Bugatti’s most extreme machine online (unfortunately, Bugatti’s since taken down the reveal video).
The Bolide is a one-off track car, designed and built for one very special, very wealthy, unnamed customer. Unlike Bugatti’s road cars, the Bolide is stripped back to basics to give it the best power-to-weight ratio, at 0.67 kg per horsepower (or 1.48 pounds per hp). In American that means the Bolide weighs just 2734 pounds and its eight-liter, quad-turbo W-16 engine produces 1850 hp when running on 110 octane fuel. To put that into context the Chiron Super Sport 300+ makes 1600 horsepower.
The extra 250 hp comes courtesy of new turbos, a dry-sump lubrication system, and a new intake and exhaust. There are air-to-air intercoolers with water pre-cooling for the turbos and oil coolers, and water pre-cooling is also used for the engine, transmission, and differential.
The Bolide is built around an ultralight carbon-fiber monocoque that’s as strong as materials used in aerospace. The minimal bodywork is also carbon, while all screws and fastenings are titanium for weight-saving and strength. The Bolide uses carbon-ceramic disc brakes behind center-lock forged aluminum wheels shod with massive 340-mm front and 400-mm rear tires. An air jack system speeds up pit stops to change the rubber.
Suspension is handled by titanium pushrods with horizontal dampers and aerodynamic stainless-steel control arms. On the subject of aero, the Bolide makes almost 4000 pounds of downforce at the rear thanks to its massive rear wing; the front splitter adds a further 1764 pounds at 200 mph. An innovative roof scoop provides active aero by changing its surface texture. At low speeds it is smooth, but at race pace, bubbles bulge out to reduce drag.
The car’s form is really a factor of its function. Designer Achim Anscheidt says it was “more technically driven than shaped by style.” Hence the car has LMP1-style doors, Formula 1-esque air ducts, and a crazy X-theme that is purported to be a tribute to Chuck Yeager‘s sound-barrier-busting Bell X1 rocket plane. Bugatti boss Stefan Winkelmann describes driving the Bolide as “like riding on a cannonball.”
Bugatti claims the Bolide can exceed 311 mph and has simulated a lap of the Nürburgring at 5:23.1 minutes which is only just shy of the all-out record held by a Porsche 919 Evo LMP1 race car. The Bolide meets FIA racing regulations, and rumors abound that the company may enter the Le Mans 24 hour race.