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Here's what happens when you order a Bugatti Chiron

Calling the process "involved" barely does it justice.

Benjamin A. Monn

Let's say you've got a cool million or two burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to order Bugatti's latest hypercar, the Chiron. The process is a bit more involved than just one-click ordering on Amazon or driving into a dealership and grabbing one off the lot. Let's walk you through what happens.

Any color you like

The first step is customization. You, the customer, team up with one of Bugatti's designers to decide on colors and materials. Bugatti will produce any color you want, but its standard options include 23 different topcoat shades, along with eight variations of naked carbon fiber (I'm partial to blue).

The interior gives you even more choice. You'll get to choose from 31 different colors of leather and eight different colors of Alcantara suede. Again, other colors can be created, if you happen to have a crayon or pair of pants that you're quite partial to.

Don't worry, it only gets more complicated from here. There are 30 different stitching options and 18 different carpet colors. Hell, even the seatbelt comes in 11 different hues. And don't assume that Bugatti is going to call you out for picking colors that clash -- it's your money, so it's your mistake to make. Asking for help isn't the end of the world if you're not fully versed in color theory.

From the start of configuration, you still have about nine months to go before the car gets delivered. Hope you're committed!

Production begins... slowly

After a customer signs off on the Chiron's final design, Bugatti organizes its army of suppliers. The parts required to build your car are ordered from the suppliers, which are located throughout Europe, and eventually they'll arrive at the production facility in Molsheim, Alsace, France. The car also receives its official slot in the production queue.

One month prior to production actually commencing, Bugatti assembles the chassis and its substructure to ensure it's all fitting together nicely. Parts are then transferred to the paint shop, where it takes three weeks just to apply the paint. Each layer is applied by hand, and each coat (there can be more than a dozen) must be sanded and polished individually.

Once the paint is on and polished to perfection, it's time for the real assembly to begin.

The engine comes preassembled from Volkswagen, which is a hell of a present to arrive on a doorstep.


Kicking assembly into high gear

In the building where the former Veyron was built, assembly will commence on your personal Chiron. There are 12 stations in total, and there are no conveyor belts or robots to be found. The whole process is done by hand.

Fun fact: The floor is made from conductive epoxy to prevent any sort of static electricity buildup. It also makes the facility look very fancy, as it should, because these are cars for the 1 percent of the 1 percent.

The first step in production is the powertrain. The engine comes preassembled from a Volkswagen Group engine plant and already has 8 hours of testing under its belt. The powertrain then mates to the chassis. This part of the process takes three employees about a week to finalize.

Nearly every bolt on the car has torque specs that are recorded to ensure proper assembly procedure.


Next, the rear end of the Chiron takes shape around the powertrain. The monocoque and rear end are held together with 14 titanium bolts, each weighing just 34 grams. The wiring harnesses start hooking up, and the radiator tubing is installed at the same time. With three water pumps and loads of intercoolers and radiators, it's not exactly a quick process.

From there, the wheels are installed and the car rolls to the filling station, where it receives the fluids necessary for operation. The car is checked again for leaks. Then, it heads to the dynamometer (dyno), where its engine is checked for proper function and output.

Gimme some skin

Once the engine passes its test, it's time to apply the exterior panels. Again, this is all done by hand. Before the panels are installed, though, they're test-fitted using mobile frames, so workers can make sure the paintwork is literally perfect. The panel assembly takes nearly a full workweek. The panel gaps are measured to an insanely meticulous degree.

Before the interior is installed, the nearly assembled Chiron undergoes a water test. It is hit with a deluge of monsoon-style rain for 30 minutes, to ensure there are no leaks. That's the last thing you'd want to find on your million-dollar hypercar.

The next three days are spent putting the interior together. Two workers spend this time fitting and aligning every piece of leather, carbon fiber or Alcantara.

The water test looks fun.


The final tests

With the interior assembled, it's time for the real-world test drive. To protect the body, Bugatti takes a whole day to apply (and a whole 'nother day to remove) a protective foil for the drive. The underbody and wheels are different, as well, to prevent any sort of issue. The road tests cover light and heavy driving, and there's even an airfield sprint involved.

Once the tests are over, the car returns to the paint booth, where the foil is removed and the vehicle is scrutinized for any sort of paint issue. The magnifying-glass treatment takes about 6 hours, and if a part needs to be remade, this step can continue for weeks.

With all that in the rearview, a final manager sign-off means it's time to collect the car. You can pick it up in Molsheim -- a place you've likely visited over the past few months, just to watch the process take place -- or, if you ask nicely, they'll probably bring it to your house. But Bugatti allows its buyers to actually work on assembling their own car for a day, which is an opportunity too cool to pass up.

And that's it! Now you have a Bugatti Chiron to call your own. It took about nine months, 1,800 individual parts and the hard work of some 20 different employees, but it's done, and now you can mothball it in your climate-controlled garage while you watch its value shoot through the roof.

Or you could be a true enthusiast and drive it. Your choice.

A few more checks and it's ready to roll.