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Monday, July 4, 2011

L’Or Blanc.” - from the stable of Bugatti - the tea cup

Most of us are habituated to drinking hot tea – the drink is best served hot on a ceramic cup which can hold heat well.  These decorative cups are mostly of Porcelain -  a ceramic material made by heating raw materials at very high degree celsius.   The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain arise mainly from the formation of glass and the mineral mullite within the fired body at these high temperatures.  They are referred to as ‘china glass’ – they have low permeability and elasticity; considerable strength, hardness, glassiness, brittleness, whiteness, translucence, and resonance; and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.  Porcelain is used to make table, kitchen, sanitary, and decorative wares; objects of fine art; and tiles. Its high resistance to the passage of electricity makes porcelain an excellent insulator. Dental porcelain is used to make false teeth, caps, crowns and veneers  and you have to add something new, exceptional and costly to this list.  Can you imagine what ?

The automotive industry is no stranger to exotic materials. Materials like carbon fiber, magnesium, ceramic and others have become popular for their high-performance characteristics. But porcelain?  It is a Car.  Yes an automobile.  An one-off edition of the Veyron Grand Sport  opened up  for sale at the KPM Workshop in Berlin, Germany for a price tag of 1.65 M Euros /  $2.39 million [roughly Rs.11 crores]. In fashion World, exclusivity always drive people mad and sure there would be purchasers willing to pay far excess of its real worth !!!

Bugatti is known for expensive cars.  Reportedly, the Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4,  a mid-engined grand touring car,  is the most expensive modern car in the world at €1,200,000 (approx. US$1,700,000] The Super Sport version is the fastest road-legal car in the world, with a top speed of 431.07 km/h (267.85 mph].  The car is named after French racing driver Pierre Veyron, who won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1939 while racing for the original Bugatti company. It was named Car of the Decade (2000–2009) by the BBC television programme Top Gear. A number of special variants have been produced, including two targa tops. In December 2010, Bugatti began offering prospective buyers the ability to customize exterior and interiors colours by using the Veyron 16.4 Configurator application on the marque's official website.

Now comes a car made of procelain - the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport “L’Or Blanc.” Touted as the “first motor car to wear the finest porcelain on its body, as well as in its cabin.”  It is not brittle as a tea-cup - Porcelain fittings on the car are limited to non-structural pieces: the EB badge on the rear, wheel badges, and the fuel filler cap. Inside, a number of panels have been replaced with porcelain, a number of which carry the relief of a standing elephant as sculpted by Bugatti founder Ettore Bugatti’s brother, RembrantBugatti.  The one-off car is also equipped with a “precious” dish at the top of the center console, which can be removed and—get this—become part of a specially designed porcelain picnic set. The set and all of the fittings were designed, built and fitted by German porcelain house KöniglichePorzellan-Manufaktur Berlin (KPM).

Pricing for this one-off model is set at 1.65 million Euros ($2.39 million).  So, it's a Veyron. It's one of a kind with  generous servings of porcelain, typically considered a fine, expensive material.  One needs to be a multi-millionaire or win a Euro jackpot to go any near to such high end car.  For the Manufacturer,  Bugatti is said to be synonymous with: the creation of exceptional ideas while striving to meet the quality and aesthetics. 

If for a moment, you thought that such mad prices may not find buyers, do read on.  It is about a sale of $ 100,000 of not a car but a shaving razor.  Yes the World’s most expensive razor which has sapphire for blades !!  It certainly is the  world's most expensive razor  on sale for $100,000 (£62,460) - boasting two blades made out of sapphire.  It is stated that researchers  spent three years developing the Zafirro Iridium, which has a handle made of 99.9 per cent pure iridium - the most corrosion-resistant platinum metal, found only in meteorites.  The two blades are made from white sapphire grown at a former Soviet Union lab in Ukraine.   They are just 80 atoms thick on their cutting edge - around 1/10,000th or 5,000 times thinner the width of a hair and far sharper than any of common blades on the market.

The company claims the sapphire blades will stay sharp for about a year and offer complimentary cleaning and re-sharpening for an entire decade.  The Manufacturers claim that  ‘Each Zafirro Iridium is custom made from the strongest, purest, and most durable materials available anywhere.   Again only 99 of them are to be made. Each will be engraved with a serial number and monogrammed to the individual client's specifications.    The inflated price tag is due to rare and expensive materials used for the handle and screws, all made of platinum.  Iridium, usually used in space rockets, is ten times rarer than platinum and highly resistant to heat so theoretically it can be dropped it into lava, and it will not melt.  The blades are housed in a medical-grade stainless steel cartridge with the cartridge is held in place by 16 neodymium magnets.
Do you remember that there were handful of blade brands including Panama, Ashoka, Willis,Topaz, Bharat, Diamond,  - most of which are not available in the market now….
Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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