Crafting the perfect paintwork
A Bugatti hyper sports car is engineered with aesthetics in every detail, but its final flourish is the bodywork; painted with the precision and dedication of expert craftspeople, incorporating eight layers and lovingly perfected over the course of at least 600 hours of handwork.
Lavishing such care and attention on the paintwork of a car in this way is unheard of, but only the most flawless, mirror-like finish will pass the strict standards expected by Bugatti before a car is delivered to its customer. So complex, so involved and so dedicated to an incomparable finish is the process that in the same time it may take a traditional luxury car manufacturer to build four or five cars in their entirety, Bugatti will only have completed the paintwork of one hyper sports car.
This level of perfection can only be achieved with a team of the most experienced and talented paint specialists. These craftspeople not only know by heart the characteristics of each paint and layer they apply, but also how they will react with the various materials that a Bugatti hyper sports car is created from. They undertake all painting on the body panels individually and while removed from the car itself, treating each painted section as a small blank canvas, ready to be finished with intricate detail.
Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti Automobiles, said: “Ettore Bugatti was a man that believed in the beauty of engineering in automotive. Grown up in a family of artists, Ettore’s canvas was the automobile, even before people considered them works of art. We retain that ethos to this day at Bugatti, ensuring that every aspect of design and production is completed with dedication to aesthetic excellence; an approach that undoubtedly applies to our paintwork.”
Creating a final result of such unparalleled quality is a process of great patience. Even before the paint specialists apply a single layer of color, clear coat or primer, each panel is thoroughly checked for miniscule pits that may affect the finish later. Only with years of experience, with a natural eye for imperfections and with the sensitive touch of their hands, can they truly distinguish the ideal panels for a Bugatti hyper sports car.
Only once the inspection reveals the quality of these to be flawless, the master craftspeople apply a first layer of primer to create a base upon which they can work, which they then sand to a smooth and consistent surface over all parts, before they apply a second layer of primer. Thanks to the meticulous and precise work of the painting experts, the layer is cleared from even barely perceptible waves, bumps and pits.
Even after no less than 100 hours of precise and detailed work, the panels are still hundreds of hours away from receiving their first coat of color. Before the painters apply this first shade, they undertake a comprehensive process of clear coating and sanding, clear coating again and then sanding again. It’s a labor of love, never rushed but always carefully applied and devotedly polished. All of this preparation brings a depth and richness to the final finish.
They accept only the best and ultimately apply the body color with absolute precision and dedication. There is no shortcut to perfection, and the result must always be the same: a deep and lustrous paintwork that is incomparable in its quality and its beauty.
“The painting of a Bugatti hyper sports car not only requires incredible expertise but also the commitment and ambition to always meet the high quality standards of the brand, week after week, car after car” says Simon Vetterling, Bugatti Body and Painting Specialist.
The team also analyzes each panel individually for any minute difference in color. With their decades of experience and a meticulous eye for detail, they easily identify if one panel is even a fraction of a shade darker or lighter than the others. Then it must be repainted. With the complexities of contrasting colors on individual cars, as well as the combination of visible carbon fiber parts, they face a number of challenges in blending all aspects of one of the Atelier’s hyper sports cars together. With the different characteristics of each material and each finish, consistency is key, and only with the talent and experience of these craftspeople, can the required level of finish be achieved.
Once the car is painted to the high standards required by Bugatti, there still remains four days of polishing for the perfect shine – the most comprehensive polishing process in the industry. Finally, the paintwork is scrutinized under the bright white lights of Bugatti’s light tunnel for ten hours, the body work scrutinized by touch and sight to identify any near-microscopic blemishes.
In total, this extremely meticulous process of paintwork alone takes 600-700 hours of craft, or the equivalent of one person working 24 hours a day constantly for nearly a month. The end result is a jewel of precision and beauty that is designed not just for years, but centuries.
But the painting specialists are not only responsible for bringing to life a customer’s vision in color, they also play a key role in the bespoke process of creating a very specific color if a customer requests it. Indeed, their expertise is sought by the Bugatti design and engineering teams in the creation of unique colors, perhaps to match the warm tones of a sunset viewed from their home or their favorite handbag. The paint craftspeople are often the arbiters of what is possible to achieve to Bugatti’s uncompromising standards.
With the expectation that these cars will be admired by their owners and revered by enthusiasts all over the world for decades to come, Bugatti approaches this craftsmanship with all the dedication and passion of the world’s greatest artists.