Bugatti isn't known for giving up. It makes dreams a reality when customers approach the firm requesting wild colors, one-off materials and more. But even with Bugatti's immense resources and experience designing and building the unthinkable, the project you see here was so intense, the company nearly gave up. That's the "Lady Bug."
The French luxury supercar-maker revealed the final product on Tuesday and didn't hide the fact it was incredibly close to walking away from the customer's request. Why? This Divo wasn't as simple as creating paint colors, spraying them on in a unique fashion and shipping the car off to the new owner. No, this particular owner commissioned a special supercar and imagined a "geometric pattern consisting of diamond shapes in a unique color contrast."
The trouble was, every time Bugatti's team tried to create this effect, the diamond pattern became distorted, folded over and flat-out weird-looking on the Divo's contours and various ribs. Essentially, what the team cooked up in the digital world of CAD hardly translated to a physical car in reality.
"Due to the nature of the project, where a 2D graphic was applied to a 3D sculpture, and after numerous failed ideas and attempts to apply the diamonds, we were close to giving up and saying: 'We cannot meet the customer's request,'" Color and Trim Chief of Bugatti Design Jörg Grumer said.
Designers set off carefully modifying each and every one of the 1,600 diamond shapes planned for the Divo Lady Bug. And Bugatti was quick to point out that messing up a single diamond in the digital process meant ruining the entire design. Just a millimeter off "ruined the visual effect," the French marque said. Finally, after tweaking things on computers, workers applied 20-foot films over a test vehicle to see if the contrasting diamond pattern was even feasible.
It wasn't simple, but it worked. Essentially, Bugatti transferred each diamond to a transfer film to apply to the Divo's body. Workers individually placed all 1,600 diamonds to create the contrasting effect you see in the final product. Bugatti said the process took countless hours just on the test car to make sure they nailed the process. There was no going back when it came time to actually work on the customer's Divo.
With the pattern applied with only minor complications (workers needed to trim some diamonds as needed), Bugatti still needed to paint the car. Unlike factories where cars roll through a paint shop filled with robots spraying a body, the Divo Lady Bug took two weeks to paint by hand. First, a Customer Special Red went down before a Graphite and a clear coat to create the mesmerizingly complex contrast that covers nearly the entire car. And with each step, the painters sanded, smoothed, triple-checked and retouched things as needed. And then resanded things again.
"The attention to detail required and the fact that we had to pursue a zero-defect strategy on the final car gave us tremendous respect for the project," Grumer said. Yeah, making a mistake that far along would be grounds for sobbing, I'm sure.
But the car is real. It's finished and lives with its owner in the US. Sometimes it's easy to gawk at the wild supercars companies make. Stories like the Lady Bug help us appreciate the passion and creativity the humans who work at them exude day in and day out.