A Bugatti Without The Inconvenience Of Wealth

There are many of us who might have toyed with the idea of building a car, indeed perhaps more than a few readers might even have taken to the road in a machine of their own creation. Perhaps it was a design of your own, or maybe a kit car. We think that very few of you will have gone as far as [Vũ Văn Nam] and his friends in Vietnam. In their latest video they compress a year’s work into 47 minutes as they craft a beautifully built replica of a Bugatti supercar. If you haven’t got a few million dollars but you’ve got the time, this is the video for you.

The skill involved in making a scratch-built car is impressive enough, but where there guys take it to the next level is in their clay modeling to create the moulds for the fibreglass bodywork. Taking their local clay and a steel frame, they carefully hand-sculpt the car with the skill of an Italian master stylist, before clothing it in fibreglass and removing the clay. The resulting fibreglass shell can be used to make the finished bodywork, which they do with an exceptional attention to detail. It might be a steel-tube home-made spaceframe with a wheezy 4-cylinder Toyota engine behind the driver instead of a 1000 HP powerhouse, but it surely looks the part!

Looking at the construction we’re guessing it wouldn’t pass an Individual Vehicle Approval test for roadworthiness where this is being written, but at the same time it wouldn’t be impossible to incorporate the extra work as this is a proper road-going car. The video is below the break, and though the few pieces of dialogue in it are in Vietnamese you probably won’t need to turn on the auto-translate to follow it.

This isn’t their first fake supercar, there’s already a Ferrari in this particular stable. Meanwhile if you’re of a mind to make a car, consider the world’s most hackable vehicle.

52 thoughts on “A Bugatti Without The Inconvenience Of Wealth

  1. I was watching some of their other episodes and I wish I understood more of what they’re saying, the automatic subtitles are unusable.
    I can’t wait to see what they’ll do in the future with more experience.

    1. I don’t understand your point.
      Toyota and GM build one off concept cars that are never heard of again.
      VW builds Bugatti’s and sells them for a million each. Not only can you buy them (if you are rich enough), but they are also road legal.
      Both are used as development platforms for more pedestrian models, but Bugatti keeps the dream alive.

      1. Even my German cousin has VW on his ‘never again’ list (including all the disguised VWs…Audi, Porsche). Happened when the diesel motor died at 80,000 km. Dealer just said, they do that, out of warranty, buy a new one.

        The German car makers are running on reputation while producing hot garbage. All of them. But it will take a few years for a German to admit that about Benz and BMW, but the ship has sailed for VW. Just junk.

        VW recently sold Bugatti to an undercapitalized fly by night e-car startup. They couldn’t afford the losses. It’s basically over, until the name is next reincarnated.

        Never, ever buy a water cooled VW. They suck big wet donkey balls.

        Seriously: The first step to replace the brake master cylinder in a new ‘bug’? Remove front bumper…seriously, it’s like a joke about English sports cars, but real.

        1. “VW recently sold Bugatti to an undercapitalized fly by night e-car startup.”

          Wrong. They transferred Bugatti to a joint venture between daughter company Porsche and Rimac, which can hardly be called a “undercapitalized fly by night e-car startup”, founded in 2009 and with a turnover of 250 million per year.

          1. Just to correct:
            Turnover of 250 million Croatian kunas, not USD or EUR. So around 38 million USD or 33 milion EUR.
            Undercapitalized – if looked at the price of each Bugatti, and the knowledge there is a loss on each of them, yes, it’s undercapitalized. Rimac automobili are currently on over 200 million USD on investments from Porsche, Hyundai and other companies, but there is also a high debate in Croatia why Rimac promised Level 5 self driving taxis by the year 2024 (for that the company will be given 200 million euro in the next 3 years), and at the same time broke several deadlines (some of them by 2 years) on projects funded by Croatian investment bank and European investment bank. The fluctuation of engineers is high, and number of actually sold cars is rather small (less than 20, probably less than 10). Even the story about selling the batteries and BMS’ are backfiring, if stories from Croatian forums are true.

            So readers can decide if this is a joint venture between Porsche and a major e-car company, or venture between Porsche and a undercapitalized e-car startup..

  2. I would say the most remarkable thing about this project, which probably never shows up in the video, is the guy convincing so many of his friends to spend so much time working on his car build. He must be a smooth-talking guy! I’d love to see/hear some of those phone calls and meetings.

      1. It would be very unlikely for a random junker windscreen, considering if you could find one in Vietnam it would probably be compact, to fit the profile of the Bugatti shell. And I think a lot of people are overestimating the availability of junker parts in third world countries..

  3. Looks excellent as long as you don’t look too closely. The panel gaps look exactly like the parts were cut with an angle grinder out of fiberglass, but that’s not really a problem in a “kit car” style replica like this.

    All the joints and suspension links look like they’re going to start clapping because they’re only snug from being welded in slightly askew. Once the parts “find their place” after a little bit of shake and grind, gaps will open up and the car starts to handle like a shopping trolley. The welded parts look like they’re going to fatigue and crack off after hitting a pothole because they put no effort in finishing the shape to a smooth geometry, leaving seed cracks in the seams. The best part of the build was when they made the brake discs out of plain plate steel. No surfacing or balancing or anything – hope they don’t wobble and shudder too much when you have to slam it.

    One has to wonder, why spend so much effort doing a bad job?

    1. Cause you have to piss with the cock you got. I doubt they have the resources to use nicer equipment/materials and don’t yet have the experience to do a better job. The thing with these builds is they are never finished. when the joints start to get sloppy it seems like they have the drive to fix it better next time. It’s easy to critique someone elses work, its a whole other thing to be able to do better.

      1. It’s not that they didn’t have the tools or the resources, they just didn’t do the job properly.

        Like the brake discs, could have at least made some effort. There’s actually a simple tool/jig sold for fixing warped brake discs, that mounts to the brake caliper supports and allows you to run a cutting tool across the disc while the engine is turning the wheel.

        1. So you are familiar with the tooling available in Vietnam, and the financial means these guys bring to their project? I’m going to say with some confidence that you’ve obviously never visited a third world country. What passes for architecture and engineering, even from business and government entities, would shock you.

          1. No, but I know that they’re not working in a mud hut in the middle of Africa and they have access to basic tools and services. They could have done the groundwork light-years better if they so chose, but they put all the effort into the finishing.

    2. These guys are in Vietnam. If you watch the part where they are test-driving the frame and power train there isn’t a meter of pavement to be seen. It’s unlikely the cosplay car will ever be driven faster than 30 MPH. And it’s very unlikely they have access to the better tools you’d like to see them use. As it is, considering what they had to work with the build looks amazing and would probably pass as real on a quick glance by someone who rarely saw a high-end Western car.

    3. OK, where’s your Bugatti/Ferrari replica, then? Being an armchair critic is piss-easy. Pulling off what they did, with their resources and expertise, is damn impressive no matter which way you slice it. I don’t have a third of their expertise, or number of friends, even through I live in the West and could probably have access to tools and resources they’d kill for without even earning a Silicon Valley salary.

      1. Can’t tell a turd sandwich if you’re not a Michelin chef yourself, huh?

        The question is, why are these guys so good and yet they skip so much basic stuff in the engineering that the end result turns out bad regardless of their hard efforts. It’s like being able to knot your own tie, but not your shoelaces – or do they just not care?

        1. I think the point is: if you can’t even make your own turd sandwich, maybe you should not be labeling other peoples (awesome) sandwiches/projects as turds…

          Personally, I just figure you’re lonely and wanting engagement, hence the standard ‘post negative stuff and get replies’ formula.

          1. Hmmmm, I can tell straight away that you can’t.

            Maybe you have the tools, maybe you have the money, maybe you have the skills…. But you completely lack the motivation required to even try, so there is no way you could actually build something like that.

    4. All that effort put into the final bodyshell could have made a great set of molds instead. Their clay skills are spectacular. They should have refined the fit and finish there and then used those molds to make one or more high quality bodyshells for relatively little extra work.

      Yes, the engineering is dubious, to say the least. There’s a reason why most cars use cast iron brake rotors. I also have concerns about the safety and reliability of the welds, but I guess that safety is less valued in Vietnam. My favorite part was when someone was angle-grinding, using their open-toed shoe to hold the workpiece.

    5. Not sure why they didn’t just grab some discs off another car.

      But that being said, I’d be a little surprised if there’s much vibration from the discs. Regular disc brakes can basically be ground to far below any safety margin without noticeable vibration. Amazingly very little stutter either, until it grinds through one side completely.

      Again, not recommending testing this in practice – it’s unsafe. But I’ve experienced it.

    6. You’re way missing the point here – no-one thinks they’re building a real 200mph supercar or that it will last 100,000 miles, or indeed manage a lap of a track.

      It’s effectively an art project, wit the rationale of “Why the hell not?”, and no-one expects it to do much more than move under its own power and look passably like the thing it’s supposed to look like from a distance.

      If you’ve been to Vietnam or similar countries like that you might understand a bit better – a real Bugatti is as far from attainable for them as a real life space shuttle is for any of us. Think of it like building an Airfix kit of an aircraft or space rocket, do you mock someone for doing that because it doesn’t actually perform like the real thing?

  4. “it wouldn’t be impossible to incorporate the extra work as this is a proper road-going car.” The legal hurdles you have to jump through are quite annoying. In Texas it wouldn’t be too difficult since it is a replica of a production car, but if you wanted to make your own unique design, forget it. Somehow that is different and “not safe”

    1. It’s not a replica of a production car, just like an Airfix Spitfire isn’t a replica of a Spitfire.
      Certainly under UK law you’d have to show that the chassis is safe and this thing’s steel frame is not. Doesn’t matter what the shell looks like.

      1. In California kit cars and complete customs have to go to the referee to get titled.

        This one would get laughed out of the room, before they even looked at the motor.

        Why didn’t they use off the shelf brakes etc? That’s just incompetent.

  5. I love all the Westerners here blithely chastising these guys for not doing stuff that is clearly beyond their means. Look, even the wheezy Toyota engine was clearly pulled from a junk car, and it probably represents the largest investment they made in the project; its availability may have even been the catalyst to set it off. They clearly thought hard about every dime of actual money spent for stuff they couldn’t fabricate themselves, like the headlight assemblies.

    It would probably be more appropriate to think of this more as a cosplay go-kart rather than a car. It will probably never be driven very far at a time or very fast, and if it develops a problem the same people who built it can almost certainly take it apart and make adjustments. For tools I see that they have a stick welder (the whole third world is held together by stick welds), hand drill and drill press, and the angle grinder. They probably don’t have and can’t get much more than that. The reason they didn’t use proper bearings or real car parts is that those cost money and probably aren’t available anyway.

    This project isn’t about building a practical car. It’s for driving around the village looking cool and pretending for a few minutes that instead of making USD$3K a year you are driving a million dollar car. Yeah, it’s doing well to go 20 MPH rather than 200 MPH but what matters is that it looks cool. Of course in the US a project like this would start with a donor car that would be stripped to its frame and drive train and fitted with a new custom body so that it would be street legal. You want to know why these guys didn’t do that? They couldn’t. Any such donor car that was actually usable would still be in use, as an actual car. Nobody would be taking it apart to make a fantasy show piece. As far street legality, I’m sure that if it rolls and you can get it on and off the street, in that village, it’s perfectly legal. If you don’t like it, don’t even ask how they build buildings.

    1. I don’t think any offense is meant. It just seems like a waste to spend so much time on perhaps the least important aspect for most of us here and so little on the core functionality – being more weighted as group towards engineers, and when you demonstrate enough talent you could have done the mechanical job better if you wanted to put the effort in…

      As I’d doubt its really beyond their means – they have shown a great deal of skill and ingenuity in creating that look – similar level of effort in making it a vehicle at least as practical and functional as the one its trying to look like and I think most of the negative commenters would be happy enough – which isn’t really a high bar the Bugatti being one of the stupidest, least practical, but most interesting engineering showcase vanity project cars…

      p.s. on the whole if they are enjoying themselves and not endangering others using it stupidly on the road I’m all for it – anything crafted or created is worth celebrating, the skills developed and artistry in making something for yourself give it meaning – IMO even more when it is clearly done without huge resources as it would be so easy for them to just not bother knowing they didn’t have the ability with their resources to get that close to a really convincing replica.

      1. It’s really hard if you’ve never been there to understand what is and isn’t possible in the third world. My company once sold a truck scale to a company in Kenya. They sent two representatives to our shop in New Orleans to learn how to assemble and service it. When the issue of cut cables came up they said they would obviously use wire nuts to effect repairs. When we told them that wouldn’t work, these are millivolt signals affected by even the slightest moisture and they needed to use solder and heat shrink to seal the repair, they shrugged and said those things weren’t available. Their last stop before we took them to the airport was to Radio Shack for supplies we completely take for granted which weren’t available to them for any price.

        1. With the materials and tools they have shown they have access to doing a much better job on the basic engineering is very doable – they may not know how or understand why x is important to do right (which is fine we all have to learn something for the first time), and expecting it to meet modern western world safety standards isn’t the point at all (at least from what I see of the comments) – its all about building the important functional parts with the same care and attention the cosmetic parts received really…

  6. Why are so many people supporting this just because “They can’t afford to do it right”?
    Oh? Then don’t do it…

    If they had stopped after they made the (amazing for how it was done) fiberglass shell, and stuck it on the cheapest beater car that it would fit, it would have been PERFECT.

    Instead, they made a SUPER dangerous toy that no one is going to mistake for a Bugatti unless it is off, and they are 10m away.

    I’m not going to criticize any of the cosmetic stuff they did. It was fantastic.
    But anything mechanical? Hell no. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

    And the safety. MY GOD the safety.
    Don’t tell me they can afford food, but not eye protection while welding.
    I literally face-palmed when I saw the guy about to start painting and he put the mask on TOP of his other mask.

    I have been to plenty of poor places.
    I have seen mud huts with no doors or windows with flat-screen tv’s.
    I’ve seen some insanely cobbled together farming equipment.
    I’ve seen (and ridden in) a pickup truck with the engine removed and harnesses added so horses could pull it.

    There is a big difference between…
    I need this to feed my family so I hand made it.
    Hey look I made a jet-engine out of angle iron for fun.

  7. This car is outstanding and awful at the same time. Regardless of how unsafe you think it might be, it offers a lot more protection than a motorbike of which Vietnam has an estimated 50 million (mine is one). If you have never ridden in Vietnamese traffic, you don’t deserver to comment about safety.

    Kudos to these guys for actually building it and not just talking about it

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