Back in 2007, the engineers at Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. in Molsheim, France noticed while hand-assembling the 1001-horsepower, 253-mph Veyron 16.4 supercar that its natural body materials of aluminum and carbon-fiber on their own blend into a unique and beguiling two-tone finish of highly contrasting light and dark hues. That fall, at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, Bugatti pulled the sheet off its Veyron 16.4 Pur Sang, a special unpainted version of the Veyron with a body of highly polished aluminum and naked carbon-fiber. The Pur Sang, which is French for “pure blood,” was intended to embody the spirit of the original special-body Bugattis, such as the six 1929-1933 Type 41 Royales that were built, and the four 1936-1938 Type 57 SC Atlantic coupes that Bugatti produced and which, if sold today, would each bring tens of millions of dollars at auction. Bugatti built just five Veyron 16.4 Pur Sangs, with a price of around US$2 million.
In creating a 1:18-scale model of this very special Veyron, AUTOart has produced its own “pur sang” edition, a model that exquisitely embodies AUTOart’s pure dedication to accuracy in every detail. As with the real car, the AUTOart Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Pur Sang has a body of aluminum that is painstakingly hand polished to a mirror finish to contrast perfectly with the replica carbon-fiber center panels, thus producing the exact same stunning visual effect that Bugatti intended to create in 2007.
Compared to a conventional painted model, the process of making the 1:18-scale Veyron Pur Sang is slow, expensive, and time consuming. In order to accurately reproduce the Pur Sang’s exterior finish, AUTOart’s engineers switched from zinc alloy, which is the common user-friendly material for die-casting model car bodies, to actual aluminum, which is far more tricky to work with, as the company learned when it produced its first polished-aluminum model, the Ford GR-1 Shelby Concept Car.
For the Veyron Pur Sang, AUTOart rejected zinc because, though it can also be polished to a mirror finish, if left unpainted it will oxidize within days as humidity corrodes the metal surface. A clear coat can be applied to prevent this oxidation, but the clear coat appears as a heavy layer that alters the look of the finished body. A clear coat can also degrade over time in direct sunlight. Chome plating the zinc is another way some model producers replicate polished aluminum. But a chrome finish is too bright and doesn’t have the same surface depth or texture as actual polished aluminum.
The only choice for AUTOart was to again go with aluminum alloy, even though the raw material is more expensive and the aluminum, with a higher melting point than zinc, attacks the die-casting mold and shortens its life. A mold injected with molten aluminum may last for only 1/10 as many “shots,” or die-casting cycles, as one injected with zinc.
Once the Veyron Pur Sang’s body is cast in aluminum alloy, there is much work to do, almost all by trained manual labor. While a conventional zinc body only needs about 45 minutes of labor to trim and prepare for paint, more than three hours worth of labor is expended to trim, sand, and polish each Veyron Pur Sang body to its glossy finish. After all of this work, the contours of all of the bare panels, from the bumpers to the doors to the bonnet to the quarter-panels, must meet up and match each other in perfect continuity, just as they do on the real car. That is a difficult standard to achieve in mass model production, and thus the scrap rate is much higher with models cast in aluminum alloy. Up to 50 percent of the die-cast aluminum alloy bodies are rejected, scrapped, and recycled mainly due to over-polishing and minor blemishes introduced during polishing.
Factoring in ever-increasing labor and material costs in China, producing a die-cast aluminum model is about five to six times more expensive than producing a zinc model. However, the only authentic way to replicate Bugatti’s Pur Sang masterpiece is to use genuine aluminum alloy and to polish it to get the same look and texture as the real car. It is very costly and it takes a lot of extra effort, but this is how AUTOart makes its model cars. No other maker is doing the same because it is simply not a wise thing to do, commercially. But it is the right thing to do for collectors of fine scale models.
As with the real Veyron Pur Sang, the finish of the AUTOart 1:18-scale model requires some maintenance. Aluminum alloy is also subject to oxidation at very slow rate in dry and indoor condition and the surface will slowly turns dull after one or two years, though, as with tarnished silverware, it can easily be re-polished to make the model looks brand new again from time to time with any commercially available tarnish remover such as Brasso or Autosol, or any aluminum polishing cream such as 3M Marine Aluminum Restorer or Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish. As you polish your model, you can be certain that somewhere, in some beautiful garage, somebody is doing the exact same thing to the body of a real Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Pur Sang.
Specification of the model:
– polishing aluminum parts : 148 minutes of trained manual labor
– trimming of all metal parts: 35 minutes of normal manual labor
– trimming and machine-cut opening of parts : 58 minutes of normal manual labor
– manual drilling of small holes : 34
– manual spray paint : 116 processes
– tampon printing : 47 hits
– number of components : 271 pieces
– hot stamping area : 12 spots
– development time : over two years