There's something admirable about a company that tries to sell an already expensive car for even more money. When cash is no object, the boundaries of what's possible are pushed far beyond. The finish on this Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, for example, includes porcelain.
The given name for this automotive confection is "L'Or Blanc" meaning "white gold." Those iced swirls are the work of Berlin's famed Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (KPM). The company's porcelain products are known for their hard texture and profound whiteness. KPM has been around since 1763 - actually before the existence of Germany, since the King (or König) in its name refers to Frederick the Great of Prussia. So this is a perfect car for Bugatti to display at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
"The impulse... came from Rembrandt Bugatti's renowned elephant," said KPM's owner, Jörg Woltmann. Rembrandt was an artist (no, not that Rembrandt) and younger brother of Ettore Bugatti, who set up his eponymous car company. Baby bro's sculpture of a rearing elephant became the hood mascot for the Bugatti Royale of the 1920s.
"At first, it seemed an unusual idea to use porcelain in a car," said Dr. Stefan Brungs, director of sales and marketing at Bugatti. "But this is what Bugatti stands for: the realization of exceptional ideas." Furthermore, "Ettore loved to experiment with new materials."
Porcelain also adorns the cabin of this 220-mph convertible. This is a car with a ridiculous (yet glorious) 987 horsepower, thanks to an 8.0-liter, 16-cylinder engine that employs four turbochargers. Without the ceramic decoration, it would cost around two million dollars.
At the moment, the L'Or Blanc is truly a one-of-a-kind objet d'art, although Bugatti will probably be pleased to oblige if other buyers wanted the same or something similar. The kind of customer to whom this would appeal already owns 30 cars on average and could easily be thinking about acquiring a helicopter or a yacht. So an extra $400,000 or so for KPM's input isn't that bad. But just think of the repair bill after a ding in the grocery store parking lot.
See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
|COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.|