This week has proved to be one of tribulation and triumph for Bugatti. Its multimillion-dollar Veyron Super Sport lost its 267.8-mph world record this week after Guinness World Records found out the car is electronically limited to just 258 mph for the buying public.
That gave the unofficial record to the Hennessey Venom GT, a 1,200-horsepower American sports car based on the Lotus Elise, albeit with a twin-turbocharged Corvette-derived V-8 sitting in place of the Lotus’ four-cylinder. And it gives the official record back to yet another American automaker, Shelby Super Cars (unrelated to Carroll Shelby’s company), with a car that tops out at 256.1 mph.
Bugatti has persevered, though, as it has now set the world record with its Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, posting a top speed of 254.04 mph to set a world record for an open-top production car.
At this point, I’m supposed to tell you that this whole “Nah uh, mine’s faster” slap fight is asinine. It took nearly a decade before any car broke the McLaren F1′s 231-mph world record, and that car had half the horsepower of these modern machines. Now, it’s like supercars are Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa chasing the home run record.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced a Bugatti Veyron, and I’ll tell you that it’s more car than anyone really needs. It’s sublime in its acceleration. It makes the world feel like it’s standing still when you get out of it.
But I will say there’s a market for seven-figure supercars, and the people who buy them know exactly what they’re getting themselves into, whether or not they actually know how to drive them.
When you have everything you could ever hope for, life can become monotonous. What more is there to prove? An overpowered supercar may be an embodiment of your wealth or a compensation for your self-esteem, but I assure you that it’s also something that can scare the snot out of you and make you feel alive when nothing else will.
The Veyron is a machine of precision that your grandma could drive. It even has the same key as a Volkswagen Golf. But when you want to unleash 987 to 1,200 horsepower–depending on the model–it’s absolutely the right tool for making you wonder why you’ve not gotten your will finalized. The top speed is just a bragging right because it’s nearly impossible to find a stretch long enough to help you get to it.
Rumor has it that Bugatti is planning to end production of the Veyron with a 1,600-horsepower special edition of an already rare, hand-built car. That should help catapult it back to the top of the hardtop class until the next challenger. It’s the only all-wheel-drive supercar with a top speed in the ballpark of the rest of these others. It was also developed from the get-go to reach outlandish top speeds, with Bugatti losing money on every one it makes just because it can.
And it’s the only one I’d trust of these three if ever I were to try to get close to finding out just how fast it will go.