Did these early, previously-unseen Bugatti drawings come from VW design chief Walter de'Silva? The full story inside.

Italian car designer Walter de'Silva is supposedly the brain behind these previously-undiscovered photos for a Bugatti proposal.  The images were recently brought forward by Quattroruote Magazine, allegedly originating in 1999 just after de'Silva was poached from Alfa Romeo to head up design at Volkswagen-owned Seat.

The purpose of the prototype seen in these images was to give VW chair Ferdinand Piech inspirational ideas for the relaunch of the Bugatti brand.  Also designing versions of the Bugatti were Giorgetto Giugiaro, who created the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron, and VW design chief Hartmut Warkuss, who had invited the others to participate.

Development began just after the 1999 Geneva Auto Show, with the concepts reaching full-scale model stage within months.

In the months since these photos have been dredged up, many have panned the designs, with CoachBuild asking, "Walter, what were you thinking?!"  However, what these critics missed are the elements of the model that made it into the Veyron's final look, including deeply sculpted side air inlets, billeted fuel cap, and a rounded rear surrounded by larger side paneling.

So even if you don't like de'Silva's design study, it clearly played a critical role in the Veyron's early conceptual development.  De'Silva has been the Head of Design for the Volkswagen Group since February 2007.

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