The Bugatti Mistral is many things but subtle is not one of them. The $5 million hypercar drew crowds at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, last weekend in Monterey, CA, as the third in a series of Bugatti races with Divo and Bolide. Unlike its two predecessors, Mistral is the first Chiron-based building without a roof (duh).
Speaking with the Deputy Director of Design at Bugatti, Frank Heyl, he told me that customers are asking the automaker for a convertible based on the Chiron platform. And that makes sense; Bugatti built the Veyron roadster towards the end of its production with great success, why not offer the same with the Chiron? But it takes more than just a saw to dismantle the roof of a Chiron.
“What’s still missing in the lineup? The collector urged us to [a convertible],” Heyl said during our interview at The Quail. But Bugatti didn’t design the Chiron to be a convertible from the start. “We actually needed to reengineer the entire top,” he said, “we never tied it into a business case that made sense. But now we have this [few-off] segment… so we actually found a way to do it.”
The open roof design, of course, is the biggest draw for customers who want the new Mistral. And as you’d expect, all 99 examples are accounted for. But one of the things Heyl and his team want to make sure off the roof – or lack thereof – is that they cost nothing when it comes to the details.
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And one of the most interesting aspects of it all lies in the cabin. In fact, this one little element is barely visible from the outside unless you know exactly where to look. Hidden behind the shifter is a yellow insert with a small dancing elephant statue inside – like a yellow-clad mosquito on John Hammond’s wand.
“If you look closely at the gear shifter there’s a yellow yellow insert, and there’s an elephant in there,” Heyl told me. “Ettore Bugatti has a brother, Rembrandt Bugatti. Rembrandt is a sculptor and an artist, and he sculpts animals. He will be at the zoo observing animals and making sculptures.
And [Rembrandt] doing the dancing elephant that dances in the world, and that’s in front of the Bugatti Royale. So we thought it would be a good thing – as we have always identified Bugatti with this elephant – to include it [the shifter].”
The tiny elephant is just one stunning detail on the laundry list which also includes a glowing “BUGATTI” word sign on the back and vertically oriented headlights. But when Bugatti sank the W16 on the automaker’s path to electrification, the Mistral was a very bad delivery.