Name: Bugatti 18/3 Chiron
Debut: 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show
Engine: 6.3-Liter W-18
Power: 547 Horsepower, 479 Pound-Feet of Torque
Drive Type: All-Wheel Drive

Bugatti is a rare success story. Its original incarnation went bankrupt in 1963, only to experience a brief revival in the early 1990s before going bust again. Volkswagen Group quickly scooped up the rights to the brand in 1998 and set out to resurrect the marquee for a third time—and in a grand fashion.

While the first production Bugatti under VW’s watch wouldn't arrive until 2005, the automaker previewed its future six years earlier with the Chiron 18/3 Concept. Unveiled at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show, this concept would establish a new direction for the brand and set the benchmark for the modern supercar era.

This is Concept We Forgot, Motor1's deep dive into the weird and wonderful concept cars you might not remember.

1999 Bugatti EB18/3 Chiron Concept

Bugatti's future styling wouldn't be solidified until the 18/4 Veyron concept a few months later, but the 18/3 laid the foundation. The envelope-like front end and broad headlights tucked underneath a "flap" that flanked the iconic horseshoe grille. Those elements made it to production on the Veyron.

But designers tossed everything from the windshield back into the dustbin before designing the production Veyron. The Chiron concept’s rear featured wide, flowing fenders that blended into the bumper, reminiscent of the broad, swooping haunches of the Type 57. The Veyron would get a more athletic rear-end shape.

Italdesign Giugiaro drew the Chiron 18/3, pulling from the brand's illustrious past. The concept's eight-spoke wheels borrowed styling cues from the Type 35 racing cars, while its two-part grille harkened back to the Type 57 SC.

Hints of Bugatti's future interior styling were also present. While the concept had a manual transmission that never made it into a production model (sad!), there was supple leather throughout the cabin and bright aluminum fixtures surrounding the instrument panel and shifter. This element would become a centerpiece in the Veyron.

The concept featured a wild engine—a 6.3-liter naturally aspirated W-18. It had three banks of six cylinders producing 547 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It was similar to the engines Bugatti used in the EB 118 and EB 218 concepts that preceded the Chiron.

It would never power anything but the concept. Bugatti would switch from the W-18 to the W-16—opting for four banks of four cylinders. It also made a lot more power than the concept's engine, producing 987 hp and 922 lb-ft of torque from its 8.0-liter quad-turbo setup, going on to power the Chiron.

The current era of Bugatti is coming to a close as the influences of the Chiron concept further fade. Three years ago, Bugatti became Bugatti-Rimac, joining forces with the Croatian EV startup. The automaker will show its Chiron successor on June 20, ditching the W-shaped, 16-cylinder engine for an all-new V-16 hybrid.

This new Bugatti hypercar is said to use the Type 57 SC Atlantic, the Type 41 Royale, and the Type 35 as inspiration, just like the Chiron concept a quarter-century ago. This new era of Bugatti should feel familiar.

Got a tip for us? Email: