Fun New Levels of Insanity: The Bugatti Bolide

By Peter Nelson

November 06, 2020 


Bugatti report that they’ve created a new concept car dubbed the Bolide. At just 2,733 lbs. and possessing north of 1,600 horsepower, one would think Bolide is French for booming, especially considering its 5:23.1 Nordschleife lap time. Witnessing it rage past on the high-speed circuit would probably be reminiscent of a sonic boom. However, the German-produced French manufacturer got a bit more creative with their reasoning for this thing’s name: it means… get ready for it… High-Powered Car.


Their formula is very exciting. Stefan Ellrott, head of Technical Development: “The Bolide is the ultimate answer to the question of what if Bugatti built a track-focused hyper sports car that met the FIA’s safety requirements. Designed around the W16 powertrain with the minimum body structure and unbelievable performance data. The result: the smallest possible shell for a breathtaking performance vehicle that allows the W16 to truly come into its own.”


Music to our ears.


In terms of how the Bolide produces these monstrous horsepower numbers, especially in a concept with the sole purpose of track duty, Bugatti went to great lengths to get there. Significantly-increasing the intake and exhaust to as they put it “achieve and even faster, more spontaneous, and extreme response characteristic,” four newly-developed turbochargers, dry sump lubrication, and air-to-air intercoolers with water pre-cooling, and more. Air-to-air with water pre-cooling is utilized to cool the engine, transmission, and differential as well, to improve cooling and longevity during repeatedly laps in a track environment.


Big power demands big brakes, which also need their share of cooling. Bugatti of course threw a bunch of engineering at this: hybrid carbon titanium turbofan radial compressors (say that five times fast) are used to ventilate and cool its massive racing brake system. This system is comprised of massive ceramic discs, and ceramic-coated calipers.


Creating a capable and ultra-lightweight chassis to drop this high-power W16 into was quite a feat as well. Carbon fiber monocoque, polycarbonate windows, fuel bladder, center-lock wheels; all of this was designed for both its sub-3,000 lb. weight and FIA homologation. All screws and fasteners are made of titanium, and almost every other bit that isn’t, is carbon fiber. The driveshaft is a hearty chunk of carbon fiber, and when combined with all-titanium hardware on its ends, the result is not only a significant weight saving, but also faster, higher revs.


Elsewhere when it comes to lightweight spinning componentry, the wheels are 16 lb. magnesium alloys up front and 18.5 lb. magnesium alloys in the back. Mounted up to these wheels are 340mm-wide tires up front and 400mm-wide in the back, plus an air-jack system to make changing its price-of-a-new-GTI (probably) wheelsets much easier.


No word yet on its aero package, but its overall height is just 39 inches, and Bugatti state they got some of their inspiration in the design from the x-planes of aviation history, such as Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1. Fascinating (and corny).


Regardless of corniness, this is a heck of a feat of engineering, and we’re excited for when more details come out. Will Bugatti take a handful of de-tuned examples and race them in Le Mans Hypercar sometime in the next couple of years? Hard to say, but we hope they do. It’d be really cool to see the name return to racing, especially considering they were at the forefront of motorsport technology, and on the podium the most, 100 years ago with the Type 35.


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