15-16 August 2014
2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse 'Le Ciel Californien'
- Chassis no. VF9SV2C24DM795020
Sold for $2,420,000
- The one-off, special-edition “Le Ciel Californien”
- Unique color scheme, inspired by the 1928 Type 37A raced by Pierre Veyron
- The first Grand Sport Vitesse shown in North America
- Displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and The Quail in 2012, as well as at the Qatar Motor Show in January 2013
- Single ownership and under 3,000 miles from new
- Freshly serviced and still under factory warranty
- The world’s fastest production convertible
THE ULTIMATE VEYRON
A supercar in the making. Many would argue that when the first production Veyron rolled off the line at Bugatti’s purpose-built factory in Molsheim, France, it was the most widely anticipated automobile the 21st century has ever seen. The Veyron was the first new car to wear the Bugatti name following the brand’s acquisition by the Volkswagen Group, and it was widely acclaimed as the most incredible car the world had ever seen. Not only was it capable of reaching a top speed of over 248 mph and 0–60 in less than three seconds, it could carry both its driver and passenger in uncompromising luxury at the same time.
The Veyron was the brainchild of Ferdinand Piëch, the chairman of the Volkswagen Group and a former engineer who worked on many automotive greats, such as the Porsche 917 and the Audi Quattro, and it was to be designed with utterly no compromises. Under Piëch’s leadership, Volkswagen purchased the rights to Bugatti in 1998 and then instructed its engineers to design a car capable of reaching a top speed of over 400 km/h and an output of over 1,000 horsepower. Many believed that such a request was impossible to fulfill, but such requests were typical of Piëch, who, in 2002, had pressured engineers to produce the Volkswagen Phaeton, a car that Piëch insisted must be capable of being driven all day at 300 km/h in 50 degrees Celsius, while also maintaining an interior temperature of 22.2 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, the engineers ventured into uncharted territory when designing and engineering a road car capable of such speeds, but the resulting automobile proved to be nothing short of extraordinary.
Many believed that since the Veyron was simply such an incredibly well engineered and designed car, its performance simply could not be topped. However, five years after the original Veyron went into production, Bugatti introduced the Super Sport, which replaced the Veyron as the fastest car ever made. The Super Sport, which now boasted 1,200 horsepower and 1,500 Newton meters of torque, was capable of accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds, arriving at 186 mph in 16.6 seconds, and achieving an electronically limited top speed of 257 mph. In order to add an additional 199 horsepower to the standard Veyron’s already incredible power output of 1,001, two additional fuel pumps, as well as four larger turbochargers and air coolers, were fitted, and engineers were able to reduce its exhaust back pressure, resulting in a car that could both inhale and exhale more easily. At the same time, reducing the exhaust back pressure also helped to improve the fuel economy over the standard Veyron. Additionally, the car benefitted from improved aerodynamics, which helped to increase its stability at high speeds and increase airflow to the engine and brakes.
As the convertible Grand Sport followed the original Veyron, it was only natural for the Bugatti to introduce a topless version of the Veyron Super Sport: the Grand Sport Vitesse. This car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012, and it offered customers the opportunity to experience the speed and performance of the Super Sport in a whole new way. Performance remained remarkably similar to the Super Sport, as it was capable of achieving 0–60 mph in 2.6 seconds and a top speed of 255 mph, making it the fastest production roadster ever built. Bugatti’s engineers also took the time to strengthen the chassis in order to reduce body roll during hard acceleration, deceleration, and cornering, ensuring that the car’s performance would not be compromised due to its lack of a fixed roof.
“LE CIEL CALIFORNIEN”
The 2013 Grand Sport Vitesse presented here was not immediately delivered to its first and only owner after it was built, as it was retained by Bugatti themselves for promotional purposes, more specifically to be the first Grand Sport Vitesse officially shown in the United States. Looking to show customers that they are cognizant of their past, while also simultaneously looking towards the future, the company chose to model the car’s color scheme off of a particular grand-prix-winning 1928 Type 37A that was raced by Pierre Veyron and is currently owned by car collector and comedian Jay Leno, and as a result, the car was finished in a two-tone exterior scheme of white over light blue. For the interior, Cognac leather was chosen to be used in conjunction with contrasting Light Blue Sport stitching and blue carbon fiber trim. The Vitesse-specific polished-aluminum wheels were also finished in a matching light blue, further accentuating the car’s unique color scheme.
Following its completion, its first destination from the factory in Molsheim was the Monterey Peninsula, where it was displayed by Bugatti during festivities surrounding the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Also of interest, the car’s data tag lists its location of delivery as “Pebble Beach, 2012,” to commemorate the special occasion. It undoubtedly gained the most attention when it was displayed by Bugatti alongside the Type 37A from which it gained its inspiration at The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering. Later that week, the car also appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the concept lawn, just a stone’s throw away from several of its ancestors. At this time, the owner negotiated with Bugatti to have it named after the California sky, and it was subsequently fitted with bespoke “Le Ciel Californien” script on the doors. The Vitesse then returned to its native France, where it was displayed once more, at the Volkswagen Group Night during the Paris Motor Show on September 26th.
Afterwards, this Grand Sport Vitesse was delivered to its first and only owner, who resides in sunny California and had purchased the car before it was unveiled at Pebble Beach. As he is an enthusiast fond of fine craftsmanship and brilliant engineering, it’s no wonder that an automobile such as this Grand Sport Vitesse quickly earned pride of place in his garage. Bugatti was still very proud of the car, and they decided to show it once more at the Qatar Motor Show in January 2013, where it garnered just as much interest as it had at Pebble Beach and Paris. Eager to test the performance capabilities of his new Vitesse, the owner took the car on a road rally to Sun Valley, Idaho, in September 2013. Owners were allowed to test the top speed of their cars, and this very car reached a top speed of 230.6 mph, resulting in a new event record that bested the previous one by 0.2 mph, which was set by Bugatti’s factory driver and former two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winner Butch Leitzinger, who previously drove another Grand Sport Vitesse on the same course. This was a speed the owner was no doubt comfortable with, as he had been a pilot in the Finnish Air Force earlier in his life. Recently, the car received a full service from Bugatti of San Diego, to ensure that it is fully prepared for road use by its next owner. Additionally, it is important to note that this car comes with an extended factory warranty that was purchased by the original owner upon its delivery, which will remain in effect until May 30, 2019. The current price for such a warrantee costs approximately $255,000.
The Veyron is simply a technological tour de force; thus, it has become the poster child for 21st century supercars. Bugatti set the bar for all other supercar manufacturers with the original Veyron, and they improved upon what many thought to be the pinnacle of automotive engineering with the Super Sport and Grand Sport Vitesse. This particular Grand Sport Vitesse is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable modern Bugattis, as it was premiered at Pebble Beach to critical acclaim. “Le Ciel Californien” comes from single enthusiast ownership and has only accumulated less than 3,000 miles from new, and it would undoubtedly be the centerpiece of any collection of modern supercars, as it was for its first and only custodian. It is only fitting that it should be offered on the Monterey Peninsula, just a few miles away from where it was first unveiled to the public and under “the California sky.”
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