Ten years ago, after Bugatti had successfully stunned the world with the world’s-fastest car, the Bugatti Veyron, it set its sights on making a sedan. It almost made it to production, and then everything went completely wrong with the design.
According to Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti’s chief of design, speaking to Hagerty, the Galibier was one meeting away from getting the green light, and then it all came crumbling down:
“The company tried to reimagine the Galibier project as an automotive jack of all trades, and it ended up sacrificing grace and the proportional commitment to the original idea,” Anscheidt explained. “The ill-fated demand for an uber-Rolls-Royce Phantom with even more luxury and greater comfort in a package that could nonetheless take a corner with aplomb and cruise at 250 mph was bound to fail. The show car’s original focus of making a sporty, elegantly-tailored sedan got lost in the patchwork of overly ambitious and conflicting Excel sheet demands.
Viewed from the side, the car looked like a dachshund. From the back, it was like looking at a bowler hat on wheels,” he candidly added.
The Galibier’s future crumbled on May 10, 2012. On that day, a certain rather powerful and influential gentleman from Salzburg, Austria, paid a visit to Bugatti. Comparing the sleek, desirable proportions of the 2009 concept to the awkwardly-shaped monstrosity it had morphed into made him grind his teeth in anger. The Galibier died there and then, costing Bugatti a year and a half’s worth of precious development time.
“A certain rather powerful and influential gentleman from Salzburg, Austria,” sounds a lot like former Volkswagen Group Chairman Ferdinand Piëch, but we’ve reached out to Bugatti to confirm.
With Bugatti’s entire future resting on having a new car to build, people sort of panicked, which led to rapid development of what eventually became the successor to the Veyron, another mid-engine hypercar, the Chiron.
I’m extremely proud of Bugatti for recognising an ugly design and not just pushing it through regardless. In an age of very expensive, very ugly vehicles, it’s refreshing to see someone nearly torpedo a company because one of the products looks like a hat nobody wears anymore, and a small dog.
I’m no business expert here, but this is also a great lesson to deliver what’s originally advertised. If you make a great looking sedan concept that people seem to really enjoy, try to make sure it still looks like that when you shape it into something you can actually build.
And now what, are we just going to get another lame crossover? Or is will that rumoured electric sedan based on the Porsche Taycan still happen? Second time’s the charm!