Bentley Hunaudières Concept Car – A Car You Know…Sort Of
Bentley Hunaudières Concept Car
This is a very strange story about a very cool car with a very unique name. It is about a concept car that, through some odd twists and turn, became a production car….for a different company…..years later. The Bentley Hunaudières Concept Car has an interesting story, to say the least.
Interesting Name History
The Hunaudières’ name is the first unique part of the car. The name is a nod of the head to the famous straight of Circuit de la Sarthe race track. The story goes that during the early days of racing Sir Tim Birkin, driving what was called a “Blower Bentley”, passed Rudolf Caracciola in his Mercedes-Benz SSK at 125 miles per hour. He did so with one tire on the grass, and that happened down the straight part of the track now known as the Hunaudières straight.
The 1999 Bentley Hunaudières Concept Car was a concept car built by Bentley for the Salon International De l’auto car show in Geneva. This supercar was powered by an 8 liter, naturally aspirated W 16. This herculean engine created 623 rear wheel horsepower at 6,000 RPMs. and 560 lb ft of rear wheel torque at 4,000 RPMs. After tying that to a 5 speed manual gear box, this car could run 0 – 60 times in under 4 seconds and a top speed of 220 mph. These performance numbers were amazing in 1999!
You Look Familiar. Have We Met?
If you keep up with exotic supercars, you may be looking at that front nose in the picture above and asking that very same question. Where do I know this car? This looks familiar, but that doesn’t look like the stately Bentleys that I know. In a weird twist of automotive turns, there is a reason for this identity crisis. In 1998, Volkswagon went on a buying binge like no other. They bought Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti in a span of a few months. To bring all these brands together as a family, they used a Lamborghini Diablo chassis, a Bugatti concept car body, and Bentley interior.
The interior stayed true to Bentley by hiding the climate control and stereo behind a panel to keep it clean and uncluttered. The exterior was kept Bentley refined by replacing the side view mirrors with rear view cameras mounted behind the front wheels. Think about the fact that smart phones and LCD screens in cars were both still nearly a decade from being common. That was truly innovative in 1999!
Unique Family Roots
To further pay homage to its history, the car was painted British Racing Green with tan leather interior. This was all meant to make a statement about how VW, as a parent company, planned on taking these 3 iconic brands to the next level, After the car show, however, VW had a change of heart. They decided that this 1999 Bentley Hunaudières Concept Car was not where they wanted the Bentley brand to go. The stately, refined, Rolls Royce competitor called Bentley should stay true to that brand identity, This left them with a problem…build a new brand, find a brand in their current stable to use to build this car, or abandon the idea althogether.
In 2000, an important decision was made to put this car back in the garage and do some more work to it. The 200 mph, 0-60 in under 4 seconds car was not going to die like many concept cars do, however. They added new technology, refined the body, increased horsepower in the engine, and made the car even lighter.
The important decision was then made to change the rather complex name, and give it a new brand identity. It would no longer be called the Bentley Hunaudières. Before it was released to the public, they changed the name to something that was easier for English speakers to pronounce. They passed it to another brand in the VW family and rebranded it.
The new name, as of its release date in 2005, would be “Bugatti Veyron”. That’s right – the supercar that turned the automotive world upside down we now know as a Bugatti Veyron is not a Bugatti at all. It was originally a Bentley, with a number of modifications that took several years. Yes, the pictures in this article are of the Bugatti Veyron during its wild and uninhibited youth!
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