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Monday, December 11, 2023

W12 Wonder: Piëch's Visionary Impact on Volkswagen's Supercars

Right MAN on Right PLACE - In the ever-evolving realm of automobiles, visionaries with a touch of genius and a streak of audacity are essential to creating the extraordinary. Ferdinand Piëch, a passionate scion of the Porsche lineage, emerged as such a luminary. His journey from Porsche to Audi, leadership of the Volkswagen Group, and return to Porsche with a significant stake in the company showcased not only his strategic acumen but also his deep involvement in shaping the automotive landscape. 
The VW boss's ambition to challenge the best GTs of the moment was evident in the company's inaugural supercar, the W12 Syncro Concept, highlighted by its captivating upward-opening doors. (Picture from: Roarington)
Piëch's influence went beyond boardrooms, as he personally greenlit cars for production, particularly those in the realm of sports cars, leading to the acquisition of revered brands such as Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Bentley.
Italdesign Giugiaro's meticulous craftsmanship is evident in the sleek and precise lines of the Volkswagen W12 Syncro Concept. (Picture from: Roarington)
In the midst of these pivotal events, Piëch played a central role in the conception of groundbreaking vehicles, none more emblematic than the Volkswagen W12. This vehicle, mirroring Piëch's unconventional approach, represented a departure from the norm. The journey from the W12's inception in 1997 to the unveiling of the W12 Syncro prototype within a brief four-year span was remarkable, given the ambitious and sophisticated technical solutions woven into its design.
The Volkswagen W12 Syncro Concept boasts a very technical and essential interior, with the small 6-speed sequential gear lever in the centre. (Picture from: Roarington)
Volkswagen, long hailed as the "people's car," found itself venturing into uncharted territory with the W12. The company, previously associated with more mainstream market segments and brands like Audi, SEAT, and Škoda, lacked the expertise required for crafting high-performance and exclusive vehicles. 
The Volkswagen W12 Syncro Concept utilizes beautiful layout of the W12 engine that went on to be used by Audi, Bentley and Volkswagen in the top of the range. (Picture from: Roarington)
The W12, introduced alongside the VW Group's absorption of Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini, symbolized Volkswagen's foray into the luxury super sports car sector. The unveiling of the W12 Syncro prototype at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show marked the commencement of this transformative journey.
The Volkswagen W12 Syncro Concept powered by a naturally aspirated 5.6-liter naturally aspirated W12 engine capable of 414 hp. (Picture from: Roarington)
Ferdinand Piëch, the visionary chairman of the Volkswagen Group, entrusted the task of enhancing the W12 engine's performance to Italdesign Giugiaro. Giorgetto Giugiaro, the esteemed designer, emphasized the significance of the engine in the project, shaping the design to underscore its importance and elevate overall performance.
The Volkswagen W12 Syncro presented in Tokyo in 1997 and the Roadster version presented at the Geneva Motor Show the following year. (Picture from: Roarington)
The W12 debuted as a coupe in 1997, followed by a roadster in 1998 and the Nardo version in 2001. Propelled by a 5,600 cm³ W-engine generating 420 hp, the car featured a distinctive configuration with four banks of cylinders arranged akin to two V-engines.
The Roadster version of the W12, two seats and the generous engine clearly visible in the very original rear section. (Picture from: Roarington)
Piëch's unwavering commitment to excellence reached its zenith on February 23, 2002, as the upgraded W12, now equipped with a 6-liter engine producing 591 hp, sought to conquer the Nardò Ring in southern Italy. The mission – to establish a 24-hour speed record. Triumphantly, the W12 covered 7,749 kilometers at an average speed of 322 km/h (200.6 mph).
The version with a 6-litre engine, called Nardo, during the preparation for the 24-hour record achieved in 2002 at an average speed of over 320 km/h for the entire distance. (Picture from: Roarington)
A pertinent question arose: Why embark on creating an extreme sports car under the VW brand when the Group already boasted established sports car manufacturers? The answer lay in Piëch's ambition to challenge and inspire the group's technicians to reach new heights.
Piëch's genius not only secured a record but also left an enduring imprint, inspiring subsequent iconic models. The W12 concept's influence reverberated in the design of the Audi A8, Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur, and Volkswagen's flagship, the Phaeton. Ferdinand Piëch's legacy endures as a testament to the fusion of passion, innovation, and a bold spirit in the automotive realm. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | ITALDESIGN | CARROZZIERI-ITALIANI | ROARINGTON ]
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