Dream of a Bentley led to another supercar
The exquisite Bentley Hunaudières concept car that dates from 1999 was the actual forerunner of the Bugatti Veyron, that subsequently became the pinnacle of automotive engineering.
When the Volkswagen Group purchased Bentley in 1998, executives from both companies made it clear they had big changes in store for the British brand. The Hunaudières concept illustrated one of the directions the company was looking to take. It was a dramatic, low-slung coupé powered by an 8,0-litre, 16-cylinder engine tuned to deliver 465kW.
The Bugatti Veyron doesn’t need an introduction nowadays as it has set the benchmark for all other supercars since its production started in 2005. Despite being on the market for over 12 years, the powerful car remains one of the fastest and most exclusive in the world. But the first car which could be regarded as forerunner to the Veyron wasn’t a Bugatti at all - it was a Bentley.
It started in 1998 when Volkswagen went on a buying spree. Within a few months the Germans had bought Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley. One year earlier Volkswagen had presented its own sports car, the W12 Syncro, which would later be known as the Nardò. This car, sporting a 5,6-litre W12 engine, was initiated by VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch, who wanted to show that VW could also build a supercar. But Piëch had bigger plans after he found the right brands for it.
At the Geneva Motor Show in 1999, Bentley unveiled a spectacular supercar which would turn out to be a prelude to the Bugatti Veyron.
The Bentley Hunaudières didn’t resemble anything the British automotive manufacturer had built before.
Just like the Bentley Mulsanne, the Hunaudières was named after a stretch of
Circuit de la Sarthe, better known as Le Mans. Bentley won this race five times between 1924 and 1930. In fact, both cars’ names refer to the same long straight, which is officially known as Ligne Droite des Hunaudières, but often is called “Mulsanne Straight”.
The Hunaudières never made the jump from the show floor to the showroom floor because it was regarded as too extreme. Its exterior design inspired the first-generation Continental GT to some degree.