In times when the automotive industry is working on ways to optimise its robotised production and reduce production costs, there are just a few automakers left doing things by hand. Those brands are among the most exotic and exclusive though, and Bugatti has often been given as an example of true engineering craftsmanship. The French automaker, in turn, very much enjoys bragging about the complex methods it uses when building the Chiron and its derivatives, and in a new press release, it details the painting process.
Starting with the big number from the headline – yes, it actually takes around 600 hours for each car assembled at Bugatti’s Molsheim factory to be painted and the entire paintwork is applied by hand. Putting that number into perspective, Bugatti says for the same time a traditional luxury car manufacturer, not a mainstream one, would build four or five cars from beginning to end. Each component on a new Bugatti car is painted individually and not installed on the car itself so that every surface can receive the best possible finish. This is something mass-production automakers don't usually do.
Gallery: Bugatti Explains Its 600-Hour Paintwork Process
But as you probably know from many other painting videos we’ve shared, there is so much more that needs to be done before even the first layer of paint, clear coat, or primer is applied. Before that, the specialists make a thorough inspection for minuscule pits and this process doesn’t involve any machines or robots – just the natural eye for imperfections and the sensitive touch of the specialists’ hands. Two layers of primer with detailed sand in between come next.
These preparations alone take more than 100 hours on each car. But even at this point, the surfaces are by far not ready to be painted – this is where the seemingly endless spiral of more clear coating and sanding, clear coating again, and then sanding again begins. Bugatti describes it as “a labour of love, never rushed but always carefully applied and devotedly polished.” Only when all the panels have the perfect surfaces, the specialists can move to the next stage. But it’s not the final painting, again.
The team then analyses each panel individually because Bugatti uses several different material types across the body, each with its own painting characteristics. If even the slightest difference in shades between two details is recognised, a repaint is needed. And even when the entire car is sprayed to perfection, about four more days of polishing are needed, which Bugatti says is the most complex polishing process in the entire industry. All in all, from A to Z, painting a new Bugatti takes between 600 and 700 hours.
“Ettore Bugatti was a man that believed in the beauty of engineering in automotive. Grown up in a family of artists, Ettore’s canvas was the automobile, even before people considered them works of art. We retain that ethos to this day at Bugatti, ensuring that every aspect of design and production is completed with a dedication to aesthetic excellence; an approach that undoubtedly applies to our paintwork,” Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti, explains the basic motivation behind the lengthy painting process.