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  • Writer's pictureLuxury Edition

Meet the Man Who Drives Bugattis for a Living, and Doesn't Like to Show It

Bugatti has become synonymous with ultra-fast cars, but it’s an arduous process to prepare each beast for shipping, which starts after assembly has been completed. The Molsheim automaker has highlighted this process, putting the spotlight on the man who put about 90% of all modern Bugattis through their paces, Steve Jenny.

A Frenchman raised in Alsace, he found out about the company’s revival in 2004, when a friend told him that prototypes were being driven on a private racetrack in Colmar. He drove there, and immediately got hooked up on them. One month later, he took a look at the Bugatti facilities, and was so impressed that he sent out a job application, and in July, he actually got the job.

His role was (and still is) to make sure that each Bugatti works flawlessly, and “adheres to the same strict criteria.” As the company says, “it wouldn’t be a Bugatti until Steve had approved it.” As a result, he spent the next months developing new quality inspection processes, and installing a measurement and analysis room, where the hypercars would be thoroughly tested before being shipped to their rightful owners.

The automaker’s experts had to come up with a precise timeline for the inspection test drive, which would include numerous situations, such as driving on highways, in the city, at the drag strip, and on the racetrack, deciding that five hours would be enough.

Before jumping behind the wheel of a Bugatti, the test driver verifies the region that the car will be shipped to, making sure that it is homologated. He then checks the desired configuration and options, and a quality controller makes sure that all electric functions work properly. Next, he fires up the quad-turbo W16 engine, and drives out of the factory for a 300-kilometer (186-mile) or so journey across the Alsace region, spending the next few hours searching for imperfections. At 80 kph (50 mph), he takes on a cobblestone road, measuring the comfort level, and noise coming from the suspension.

You have to feel the car with every fiber of your body, and interpret its responses correctly. Technical expertise is helpful in this effort, but experience is paramount,” he explains. “The winding roads of the Vosges mountains are ideal for this drive.

A closed runway of the Colmar airport then becomes the home of the car for high-speed testing, during which it exceeds 300 kph (186 mph). The launch control and deployment of the airbrake are tested out, and the car is subjected to fast lane changes, heavy braking from 200 kph (124 mph), full braking, and ESP check.

Jenny then drives back to the factory, reads his notes, and if the machine checks every criteria, it is then prepared for the next step. Subsequently, technicians change the transmission oil and wheels, and attach the original underbody. After that, the final driving dynamics approval test can commence, taking one hour and spanning at least 50 km (31 miles). In total, every Bugatti is driven between 350 and 750 km (217-466 miles) before it is ready to meet its owner.

As you can imagine, this is anything but a boring job, with Jenny, who is estimated to have put about 90 percent of all modern Bugattis through their paces, including the Veyron, Chiron, and Divo, for over 350,000 km (~217,500 miles), stating that “every day is unique, and driving these amazing cars is a source of continuous joy for me.

Thus, next time you see a Bugatti in the open, it is very likely that it was tested out by Steve Jenny at one point, getting his seal of approval.

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