The Bugatti Centodieci is a few-off from the famous Molsheim company, as a celebration of the classic EB 110 that was created about three decades ago when Romano Artioli revived the Bugatti name and built a factory in Campogalliano that would eventually build 96 units of the EB 110 GT and a mere 32 units of the EB 110 Super Sports … the last car left Campogalliano in 1995.
The super sports car of the Nineties was built around a carbon-fiber monocoque and had a mid-mounted V12 engine capable of 550 PS with the help of four turbochargers, the all-wheel-drive would deliver a top speed over 350 km/h, unseen at that time, but figures that are dwarfed by the new Centodieci with her 8.0-liter W16 engine boasting 1,600 PS that is capable of speeds over 350 km/h … only ten will be built, with a starting price of €8,000,000, and no, you can’t order one … they were sold out in a matter of hours.
So selling the 10 Bugatti Centodiece for a total of more than €80,000,000 didn’t pose a problem, now it’s time to live up to the expectations and create a car worthy of that price tag, the Centodieci has obtained a legend status even before the first client car is delivered, and development of such a high-end hypercar means taking her into a state-of-the-art wind tunnel … which is exactly what Bugatti did recently.
This allows the aerodynamics and cooling setup to be tested in a way that wouldn’t be possible on the open road, remember supercars were tested in the Sixties with small tuffs of wool taped to the body and taken onto the road with a follow vehicle to see how those tuffs react to the airflow … those days are gone now, in comes a 9,300 PS engine with an eight-meter propeller generating a wind force larger than a hurricane … in fact, it would allow an airplane to take off easily, so the aerodynamics of the Centodieci better be on point, or this multi-million dollar prototype goes flying into the air.
But it’s not only the wind that blows onto the new Bugatti, on the floor of this wind tunnel are five bands, one under each wheel and a fifth one underneath the body itself, but this also allows the wheels to be spun and the airflow underneath the car to be simulated to speeds up to 300 km/h to get a full impression of how the Centodieci should be tuned according to André Kullig, Technical Project Manager for one and few-off projects at Bugatti.
It doesn’t matter if Bugatti will build one unit like the La Voiture Noire, or ten as is the case with this Centodieci, they all are thoroughly trialed and tested before being given the ok, every single unit built has to meet or exceed the quality and safety standards applicable to mass production, in case of the Centodieci, the small but flat front design with the typical horseshoe shape, influences the airflow considerably when compared to models like the Chiron or Divo, especially at speeds above 350 km/h.
Bugatti development engineers first start with computer simulations to achieve initial targets that have been pre-calculated in development, once those computer simulations are finished the development prototype is taken into the wind tunnel, as is the case with the Centodieci now, once wind tunnel testing is completed, it’s finally time to take the new hypercar into the wild for actual high-speed testing on a test track … which is where the fun begins for the test drivers.
But back to the wind tunnel, the Centodieci gets her initial test to see what can be improved, and then they start working on changing the angle of the front diffuser flaps and that massive rear wing, modifying the angle minutely to see what the best position is, keep in mind the Centodieci will come with a fixed rear wing, so it has to be perfect at every speed. “Even once we have identified the ideal settings, we continue to try others in order to see how the Centodieci responds,” says André Kullig.
After that the Bugatti development engineers start looking at downforce for each wheel individually, it has to be set up as close to neutral as possible so the Centodieci is handling correctly at the tremendous speeds this hypercar is capable of thanks to her 1,600 PS. “No matter what speed and what driving situation, the Centodieci is sportily neutral and can be managed at all times in spite of its immense power,” according to André Kullig.
And while we are still talking about a development prototype, not even a pre-production prototype in this case, just take a look at the amazing blue leather interior, it is perfect and reminiscent of the one inside the customer cars, Bugatti doesn’t cut corners, not even on a prototype that will likely be seeing thousands of kilometers during testing, and probably in the harshest conditions … but the car looks good, and will still be amazing after she is put aside and production begins, and let’s not forget, each one of the 10 production cars is sold at €8,000,000 net, this development prototype is valued at a multitude of that number.
Bugatti even published a short YouTube video of the wind tunnel testing of the Centodieci … enjoy it below: