Bugatti Veyron

Developing the fastest production vehicle is not a particularly noble goal but nonetheless required technical engineering nous

For the engineers involved in developing the supercars of the world, the need for speed is, perhaps, the desire that trumps all others. The pursuit of making a vehicle as fast as possible, however crude, is one that has appealed throughout the history of the automotive industry. 

It was a version of this motivation that led Bugatti to develop the Veyron, a vehicle that holds the title of fastest production vehicle. At the outset of the project, key targets that were set included to produce the first vehicle exceeding the iconic power level of 1,000PS (735kW) and to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in less than three seconds.

To achieve such performance figures, the company introduced an 8-litre, 16-cylinder gasoline engine. Having four turbochargers, the first model – the 16.4 Grand Sport – launched in 2005 produced 736kW and 1,250Nm of torque. The Super Sport, unveiled five years later, increased this power output to 882kW. No longer than a conventional V12 engine, it measures 710mm and weighs 490kg and can operate under a continuous full load. 

The piston rods are made from titanium, while the crankcase that the eight-stage oil pump is integrated into is made from aluminium – as are the gears, with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission mated with the W16 engine.

To provide the engine with consistently high fuel pressure, engineers designed and produced a three-phase injection pump. 

The fuel tank was one that was used in motorsport, but it had to be adapted to be considered roadworthy. Following consultations with fuel tank specialists in the aerospace industry, the engineers coated the external parts of the Veyron's tank with Teflon, to help the constant supply of fuel to continue up to a residual capacity of three litres and maximum lateral acceleration of 1.4g.

They worked hard at devising ways of providing cooling air to the vehicle’s radiators, as well as extracting hot air. Airflow patterns played an important role, but two water circuits also contributed. 

A larger 40-litre circuit, in three coolers, towards the front section of the vehicle maintained the engine's operating temperature, while a low-temperature circuit, containing 20 litres with a separate water pump, cooled the charged air and prevented the Veyron from overheating when in slow traffic.

tags: November 2015 Bugatti