Times change, but one thing has remained constant — the badge on the front of Bugatti motor vehicles.

In more than a century of building cars, the “macron” (that’s what they call it) has remained the exactly the same.

The Bugatti badge represents exclusivity, luxury, design and outstanding hand craftsmanship on the horseshoe radiator.

The idea for the oval shape with white lettering on a red background originated from Ettore Bugatti himself.

He had already developed a similar logo for his previous employer Deutz in Cologne.

When he started his own vehicle production, Bugatti intentionally chose a flat, but high-quality brand badge.

According to the design instructions, the shape formed by cutting a cylinder with a diameter of 45mm at an angle of 30 degrees.

The popular and almost inflationary use of radiator figures at the time would have only spoiled the design of his vehicles.

The only exception remains the dancing elephant on the Bugatti Type 41 Royale from 1926 – a replica of and tribute to a sculpture created by Ettore’s dead brother Rembrandt.

In addition to the easily legible name lettering in white on a red background, the badge also features the initials EB (for Ettore Bugatti) above this in black, as well as 60 red dots on a white surrounding border.

Red stands for power and passion, white for elegance and nobility, and black for excellence and courage.

According to the legend, the 60 dots symbolise pearls or threads in a style that conformed to the “Art Nouveau” fashion.

In those days, they were used like splints to produce a permanent connection on mechanical parts – and the reliability and durability of his vehicles was something that was always very close to Ettore Bugatti’s heart during his lifetime.

Bugatti changed the appearance of the Macaron only slightly over the course of the years.

These days the badges are handcrafted at the Poellath GmbH & Co. in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria.

Founded in 1778, the company produces the tools for the job itself, and the manufacturing process is done by hand.

It been producing the emblems for Bugatti since 2003, initially for the Veyron 16.4.

Bugatti Macaron 12

Most badges are delivered in red.

Very few vehicles, such as the Chiron Noire or Super Sport 300+ receive a Macaron in black.

In addition to the Macaron on the radiator grille, Poellath also produces smaller badges.

These are used for the vehicle key, for example.

Including the enamel and the fastening screws, the emblem weighs an impressive 159 grams.

Around 20 skilled workers from different departments work on the exclusive component for a total of around 10 hours spread over several days.

The 970 silver base metal is embossed several times with up to 1000 tonnes as part of a multi-stage process.

The Bugatti lettering is raised from the base by 2.1mm at the level of the border.

In contrast to casting methods, the contours achieved by embossing are much sharper and of much higher quality – provided that the right tools are used. After embossing, the emblem passes through the enamelling process.

Enamel is glass that has been fused onto iron, a manufacturing process that goes back over a hundred years.

One of the very special challenges when developing the Macaron was the specification that the enamel used had to be free of toxic materials.

Half of the enamel typically used before consisted of lead.

The enamel now used is made of inorganic compounds such as silicates and oxides, which makes processing significantly more demanding and fuses with the silver when melted.

The vitreous grains of the granulate melt at extreme heat between 750 to 900 degrees Celsius and are permanently fused with the silver base material in a bond that is difficult to dissolve.

A special feature is the fact that the typical convex curvature of the emblem occurs on its own.

This is because enamel already solidifies at 600 degrees, while the silver underneath continues to contract.

The approximate 0.5-millimetre thick enamel layer in the background therefore solidifies much earlier than the metal, and this automatically produces a slight convex curvature of the entire Macaron.

This in turn supports the 3D effect.

Only the raised glass-like compound can then be sanded, finely sanded and polished by hand, while being repeatedly checked during this process.

“No machine is capable of doing this due to the different curvatures and the surfaces located at the back,” Poellath CEO, Thomas Demel, said.

“The individual dots are also enamelled and processed by hand.

“Finally, the fastening studs made specially out of one piece are brazed on and the surface is checked once more.

“Incidentally, the fine, unavoidable pores in the enamel are not a defect, but show the uniqueness of the manufacturing process and make each individual badge a unique one-off.

“Enamel ensures the highest-quality colours on metal.

“It remains colour-fast and brilliant for decades, if not centuries.

 

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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