At a time when the auto industry is looking for ways to optimize its robotic production and reduce production costs, only a few automakers are left doing things by hand. These brands are, however, among the most exotic and exclusive, and Bugatti has often been cited as an example of true technical know-how. The French automaker, meanwhile, is very fond of bragging about the intricate 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 in the title – yes, it actually takes around 600 hours for every car assembled at Bugatti’s Molsheim plant to be painted and all the paint is applied by hand. Putting that number into perspective, Bugatti claims that at the same time, a traditional luxury car maker, not a mainstream one, would build four or five cars from start to finish. Each component of a new Bugatti car is individually painted and not installed on the car itself so that each surface can be given the best possible finish. This is something that mass production automakers usually don’t do.
But as you probably know from many other painting videos we’ve shared, there’s still a lot to do before the first coat of paint, varnish or primer is even applied. Prior to this, the specialists carry out a thorough inspection of the tiny pits and this process does not involve any machines or robots – just the natural eye for imperfections and the sensitive touch of the specialist’s hands. Two coats 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 no means ready to be painted – this is where the seemingly endless spiral begins of more clear coating and sanding, clear coating again, then of a new sanding. Bugatti describes it as “a labor of love, never rushed but always applied with care and polished with dedication”. Only when all the panels have perfect surfaces can the specialists proceed to the next step. But this is not the final painting, again.
The team then analyzes each panel individually as Bugatti uses several different types of material throughout the body, each with their own unique paint characteristics. If the slightest difference in shades between two details is recognized, a painting is necessary. And even when the whole car is sprayed to perfection, around four more days of polishing are required, which Bugatti says is the most complex polishing process in the entire industry. In total, from A to Z, painting a new Bugatti takes between 600 and 700 hours.
“Ettore Bugatti was a man who believed in the beauty of automotive engineering. Raised in a family of artists, Ettore’s canvas was the automobile, even before people thought of them as works of art. We carry this philosophy to this day at Bugatti, ensuring that every aspect of design and production is complemented by a dedication to aesthetic excellence; an approach that undoubtedly applies to our paint,” Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti, explains the basic motivation behind the lengthy paint process.