The Bugatti Mistral is many things but subtle is not one of them. This $5 million hypercar drew massive crowds at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, this past weekend in Monterey, CA, as the third in Bugatti's run of few-offs alongside the Divo and Bolide. Unlike its two predecessors, though, the Mistral is the first Chiron-based build without a roof (duh).
Speaking with Deputy Design Director at Bugatti, Frank Heyl, he tells me that customers were begging the automaker for a convertible based on the Chiron platform. And it makes sense; Bugatti constructed a Veyron roadster toward the tail-end of its production run with great success, why not offer the same with the Chiron? But it took more than a buzzsaw to sheer the roof off a Chiron.
"What is still missing in the lineup? Collectors were pressing us for [a convertible]," Heyl says during our interview at The Quail. But Bugatti didn’t design the Chiron to be a convertible from the beginning. "We actually needed to re-engineer the whole top," he says, "we never tied it into a business case that would make sense. But now we have this [few-off] segment… so we actually found a way to do it."
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The open-top design, of course, is the biggest draw for customers wanting a new Mistral. And as you'd expect, all 99 examples are already accounted for. But one of the things that Heyl and his team wanted to assure beyond the roof – or lack thereof – was that they spared no expense when it came to the details.
And one of the most interesting facets of all is located in the cabin. In fact, this one tiny element is barely visible from the outside unless you know exactly where to look. Hidden on the back of the shifter is an amber insert with a little dancing elephant sculpture inside – it's like the amber-covered mosquito in John Hammond's cane.
"If you look closely in the gear shifter is a yellow amber insert, and there's an elephant in there," Heyl tells me. "Ettore Bugatti had a brother, Rembrandt Bugatti. Rembrandt was a sculptor and an artist, and he sculpted animals. He would be in the zoo observing animals and doing sculptures.
And [Rembrandt] did the dancing elephant that was dancing on the world, and it was on the front of the Bugatti Royale. So we thought it would be a nice thing – because we always identify Bugatti with this elephant – to put it into [the shifter]."
The tiny elephant is just one amazing detail on a laundry list that also includes an illuminated "BUGATTI" wordmark in the rear and vertically oriented headlights. But as Bugatti sunsets the W16 in the automaker's path toward electrification, the Mistral is one hell of a sendoff.