Built before production, two copies of the Veyron’s prototype were displayed at major auto shows and not tested by the press. It was third and final Veyron phase before the delayed production version finally commenced in 2005.
Two prototypes were unveiled in 2003 at a lavish ‘Art de Bugatti’ party in Monaco alongside 40 classic Bugattis. Both closely resembled the eventual production versions, but were different in detail.
Compared to the previously seen concepts, these new versions had many modifications which were reflected in the 2003 production model. Most of these are focused on aerodynamics and cooling, two essential ingredients for a 250+mph supercar.
Compared to last 16-4, the wheelbase was extended 50 millimeters to 2700mm (106.3). The extra length is entirely used to increase cabin space.
Inside, a hi-fi system from Dieter Burmester was specially designed for high fidelity. The best possible component layout was agreed upon with Bugatti when the monocoque body shell was under development.
The aerodynamics were heavily developed for this version. The front air inlet apertures were optimized for engine & brake cooling. Additionally, body lift is kept under control at high speeds with an automatically extending rear spoiler, fully paneled under tray & a diffuser. Cooling ducts for the engine are located underneath the spoiler. After the engine is shut off, the spoiler lifts to help warm air escape the engine bay.
Not surprising, the 16-4 adopted Michelin’s PAX technology. This allows for continuous tire pressure monitoring and run-flat properties.
The W16 alloy block engine is a true mark of innovation. Two exceptionally narrow V8 blocks are combined at an angle of 90 degrees. The W layout provides for a generous engine capacity from a compact unit. Continuously variable electro-hydraulic camshaft is operational at all times. This W16 mated to an all new seven speed gearbox. Gear shifts take place sequentially at paddles behind the steering wheel. The patented double clutch transmission shifts from one gear to another within 200 milliseconds.
Despite being ragged on by the press for being late, the Veyron project eventually fulfilled all its goals. The first production versions were on the streets in 2005.
It is thought that two preproduction cars were completed for the Monaco Launch in 2003 and Art de Bugatti display. One of these may have been sold to customer in the UAE.