The Chiron Super Sport ‘Golden Era’ is the latest automotive art to result from Bugatti’s Sur Mesure program that began in 2021. This customisation program delivers cars that are unique and completely personalized to the customer’s specifications. The intricate, complex and highly creative process required for the ‘Golden Era’ Chiron Super Sport took two years to complete.
While commissioning the ‘Golden Era,’ the customer wished to own “a masterpiece” that paid homage to what he believed to be the apex of combustion engine development: the Bugatti W16. After having consulted with designers and paint experts in Molsheim, the customer fell in love with a proposal to celebrate the revolutionary eras of Bugatti.
Based on a series of 45 hand-drawn sketches, the car would plot the route from the founding of Bugatti in 1909, right up to the latest W16-powered models. There are 19 sketches on the driver’s side depicting the modern era of Bugatti – from 1987 and the EB110 to the Veyron and the Chiron. There are 26 sketches on the passenger’s side outlining the landmark Bugatti moments from 1909 to 1956. These include icons like the Type 41 Royale and the Type 57 SC Atlantic.
To highlight the intricate artwork, Bugatti’s paint specialists developed an entirely new shade of ‘Doré’ gold, and created a delicate fade into a special – more metallic – version of ‘Nocturne Black’. Only the most gifted painters in Molsheim were entrusted with this delicate task of creating a gentle flow from one colour into the next entirely by hand and by eye.
The drawings had to be finished in a visual style that resembles a pencil sketch on paper. Authenticity was key during the whole process. Creating the appearance of matte paper on a smooth polished surface, or ensuring the ink adheres properly and does not fade out over time, would be an enormous challenge and something never before done. And if any mistakes were made, the process would have to be repeated until it was flawless. Not only now, but far into the future.
The material, colour and design experts of the brand initially explored the use of decals, foils or vinyl wraps, but such techniques were quickly ruled out due to them looking artificial and also being prone to peeling or decay over time. The team even tried to use the very same pencils they might use to sketch on paper but a first application revealed the drawings were prone to smudging and the clearcoat would crack when applied over the sketches.
After months of experimenting and tweaking the formula, “the perfect solution” was found – an entirely new finish that would create a ‘matte’ surface for the ink to adhere to. The paint team would lightly sand down the panels to create gentle ridges and pits that the ink could seep into as the designers sketched. In this way the drawings could be hand-drawn before a crystal-clear-coat was applied to the ‘sanded’ Chiron Super Sport, creating an immaculate base level for the 45 art forms.
To give these sketches depth, the team would draw them, sand them and coat them up to four separate times, creating a piece of art with real contrast no matter the light conditions. This method also created a three-dimensional sense of foreground and background.
Jascha Straub, Lead Designer for Sur Mesure at Bugatti said: “We knew there were easier and faster ways to create these sketches. But there is only one priority with a Bugatti – and particularly with a Sur Mesure project – and that is to deliver a simply flawless and timeless finish. That meant, for the ‘Golden Era’, using real sketching pencils, no matter how complex it would be.
“We tried several different techniques and pencils, looking for the right contrast and desired visual effect, but when we applied the clearcoat over the sketches it would always crack or smudge them. Together with our painting specialists, we challenged ourselves until we finally discovered the right combination of repeated gentle sanding, sketching and clear coating. A true team effort that enabled us to push boundaries!
“Despite the long and hard-won process, the ‘Golden Era’ is a project that we can be immensely proud of, showcasing work that sets a new benchmark in the world of automotive couture commissions. With the combined vision of our craftspeople and the immense passion of this special customer, we have delivered a superb tribute to the golden era of our brand.”
The artistry extends into the cabin of the ‘Golden Era’ with a subtle hint of the exterior sketches. Applied to the curved leather door panels are head-on illustrations of the most important models from each golden era of Bugatti represented on the body of the car.
These sketches were first painted onto a flat piece of leather that was then stretched and curved to fit the door panels. The craftspeople would have to predict and account for this stretching and curvature, creating drawings that would look imperfect when flat, but perfect in their final position nestled within the door.
A fine paintbrush and a very special paint – highly resilient but delicate, and forming the exact consistency needed for the bespoke hypersports car – was developed by the experts at Bugatti. Over decades of use, the soft leather of the door panels will be touched and cleaned. To ensure that the art forms can also withstand the demands of daily use, a special leather ‘clearcoat’ was applied to protect them.
The interior is completed with a mixture of leather, suede leather and further customized touches, including treadplates marking the time periods represented on each side of the car. The flowing and elegant Bugatti handwriting also forms the ‘One-of-one’ gold script in the cabin, and ‘Golden Era’ stitched into the headrests and written underneath the rear wing.
The Chiron Super Sport ‘Golden Era’ is a masterclass, and demonstrates that the brand is built not only on performance but also on craftsmanship and beauty. It pays tribute to the words of the founder, Ettore Bugatti, who said not only must a Bugatti be incomparable but also that ‘nothing is too beautiful.’
The ‘Golden Era’ was handed over to its owner at Monterey Car Week. After a collaborative process of creation that lasted more than two years, he will now be able to enjoy his car as a timeless piece of incomparable Bugatti history.