Much like many who frequent the Louvre, I came to view some art. Automotive art, to be specific. This year’s RM Sotheby’s Paris auction was held at the Les Salles de Carrousel, just mere feet below the glass pyramids of the iconic Parisian gallery. RM Sotheby’s had plenty of classic and contemporary pieces for me to drool over, but I had my eye on something one of a kind: The one-of-one Bugatti Chiron Profilée.
The Chiron Profilée is Bugatti’s swan song to their legendary 8.0L W16 engine, with this being the last brand new Bugatti to ever be sold with the motor. The name Profilée is derived from the legacy 1930’s Type 46 Coupé, which bears a ‘flick’ on the car’s rear and the signature swooping arc ‘C-bar’ seen across the side of all Chiron models. The Profilée was conceived after Bugatti had conducted customer research, and found that there was a demand for a toned-down Pur Sport. The Chiron Profilée forms the middle ground between the track-focused Chiron Pur Sport and the faster-than-standard Chiron Sport.
Although the Profilée is a ‘less radical’ iteration of the Pur Sport, the numbers speak for themselves. The Profilée will see 100km/h (62mph) from zero in just 2.3 seconds. Boasting 1500ps (1479hp) and a 380km/h (236mph) top speed, the Profilée will soar past the Pur Sport’s measly 350km/h (217mph) top speed. All these numbers seem reasonably apt for a car of this ilk.
The Profilée sports several bespoke design elements, including a unique 1.9 metre wide ducktail-style fixed rear wing, model-specific magnesium wheels, shortened gear ratios as well as Bugatti’s first woven leather interior elements. The car is finished in Argent Atlantique over Bleu Royal Carbon, the paint colour being exclusive to this model. Production of the Profilée was sadly abandoned after all 500 Chiron slots were spoken for with only one ‘pre-series’ model ever being produced. This single example was chosen by Bugatti to go under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s Paris auction.
When I first saw the Profilée, I thought it resembled a mullet. Not literally, but the saying “business up front, party in the back” came to mind. The front end is all Pur Sport: no messing around, just an aggressive fascia with carbon fibre everywhere. The exterior trims including the C-Bar and Horseshoe grille typically found in chrome are finished in a complimentary dark blue. The wheels are one of a kind, and extremely technical with the colours to match the rest of the exterior. The rear of the Profilée borrows the exhaust and rear splitter from the Pur Sport sans the massive wing. In its place, you find an elegant and hollowed-out ducktail which tones the aggressive design down. The paint almost looks silver under the spotlights in the hall, but in daylight carries a light blue hue. I also got a glimpse of the interior as various VVIPs were being shown around the car.
As I sit typing this, I’m in what can only be described as an auditorium full of deep pockets under the Louvre. I’m no stranger to high-end car auctions, but this one had a different atmosphere. It feels as if I’m ringside at a boxing match, with various bidders both in and out of the room taking swings at each other and throwing money at a car. You don’t know who you’re sitting next to, with multiple attendees shouting out obscene figures nonchalantly between slurred laughter and champagne clinks. Of course, if anyone in the room won, there was polite tennis-like clapping. A few hours go by and lot 177 is now up. The Chiron Profilée.
I always find it humorous when the auctioneer has to announce that this multi-million euro car has tax to be paid on both the sales and the fees, as if the new owner is likely to care. The bidding from two million to four million flashed before my eyes, with several attendees taking it to six million whilst chatting amongst themselves and waving their numbers. The final showdown was between a man at the back of the room standing in the crowd and a phone bidder. It was like watching the most intense game of Deal or No Deal. The man in the room entered at six million euros after several seated attendees were sparring between the four to six million mark. All eyes were on him, including that of his green Birkin-bearing lady friend, who was smiling throughout this whole transaction whilst he bid a small country’s GDP on this car. The phone bidder, however, was throwing bigger punches: the room was bidding in hundreds of thousands whilst the phone was throwing quarters of a million. In the end, it was the back and forth between the room and phone where the room stopped at €8.6 million euros and threw in the towel. The phone won with a winning bid of €8.7 million. The final price with taxes? An eye-watering €9,792,500: a small price to pay for a piece of Bugatti history.
The Chiron Profilée is a beautiful piece of engineering and I would have loved to see it go into production. A fitting end to the W16? I don’t know – the Bollide is pretty radical, and I still wish they cut the roof off a Chiron of sorts. As the world changes, Bugatti must too. We’ll be keeping a close eye on their future developments with the likes of Rimac being heavily involved with their future electrified powertrains.