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Bugatti Chiron's Titanium Grille Stops Birds From Smashing Radiator

Interview / 11 Comments

A lesson learned from the Veyron.

The Bugatti Veyron will forever be an icon. As the first Bugatti built under Volkswagen Group ownership, the Veyron served as the German automaker's halo model for a decade until its Chiron successor arrived. But the Veyron wasn't perfect. No car is, no matter how much it costs. But there was one specific issue with the Veyron that has been corrected with the Chiron, the front grille.

We spoke with Bugatti design chief Achim Anscheidt at this year's Geneva Motor Show about various aspects of his design philosophy and choice of build materials. The Chiron, in case you didn't already know, features a titanium mesh grille whereas the Veyron's was originally aluminum.

That changed for one very important reason: bird strikes. "One of the bigger problems in the beginning with the Veyron was birds hitting the car at 400 kmh (249 mph) and were penetrating the radiator because they were just shooting through the grille. And then the radiator was leaking," he said. "They went through the grille mesh and blocked the radiator. So on the Chiron we decided the front grille had to be titanium because the titanium best protects the radiator."

And because the Veyron was entirely new territory at the time for VW, it was sort of a learn as you go situation.

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They learned this lesson fairly quickly. Following these bird strikes, Bugatti later swapped out the Veyron's aluminum grille for a titanium one, and so it was a no-brainer the Chiron would have titanium as well. As for the birds, well, anything that smacks into a piece of metal at nearly 250 mph isn't going to come out intact, to put it mildly.

But hey, at least the Chiron's radiator will be alright. All new Bugattis, including the Divo and the just-revealed $18 million La Voiture Noir masterpiece, feature titanium up front. Birds, beware.