Hold on tight, don’t close your eyes
This is a story of an engine, and the car that was built for it. That’s right: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is all about the 8.0-liter, 1,001-horsepower engine, the 250 mph it creates, and the challenges that kind of power presents. The shell around it doesn’t matter so when you’re talking about the kind of power that propels man and machine to 62 miles per hour in three scant seconds, except in the things you have to do in order to make the car stay connected to mother earth when the going gets really fast. Make no mistake: the Bugatti Veyron’s body is nice, and the interior is awash with leather, but what was really on display at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show was that engine, that brutishly powerful collection of V8 that, together give the letter W a whole new meaning. After all, you don’t pay more than $1,000,000 for leather, or a nice paint job, you pay it so that you can do things few other people in the world can do. In this case, the money goes toward owning the fastest passenger car ever built, a phenomenal exercise in engineering, perseverance and the great lengths a rich person will go in the ultimate game of one-upmanship. The engine has four turbo chargers, a dry sump lubrication system and a giant radiator so as to handle the amount of heat that comes from all that power. The transmission is a paddle-operated, dual clutch system with seven gears, driving power to an all-wheel-drive set up. The tires are specially-made Michelins, and are reportedly the widest passenger car tires in the world, designed to handle up toe 1.3 G on the skid pad. The body of the Bugatti Veyron is made of carbon fiber in order to keep its weight down. Even with that, at a little more than 4,000 lbs., it’s 1,000 lbs. heavier than a Dodge Viper. Inside is swathed in leather from dash to door, and, at least according to most who have sat inside, a very comfortable perch on which to marshal the hounds of hell. The consensus seems to be that Bugatti, which was purchased by VW in 1998, is an exquisitely made super car, though many people are still wondering why a maker of affordable sedans and such would decide to build a super car of which no more than 300 will ever be made, and only 50 to 80 per year. Perhaps it was for the halo effect – or maybe the unbridled ego or mind-numbing ennui of automaker lords with gobs of money and time. They want to build fabulous machines for the fabulous among us, because that’s what lords do in order to have a proper automotive legacy. In the case of the Bugatti Veyron, however, the challenge was wrought with difficulties. When the concept was originally introduced at the 1999 Tokyo Auto Show, the Veyron was plagued with problems: how to build a car around that enormous engine and how to keep it from taking off – or overheating – when the speed reached 200 mph or more. So far, they haven’t figured out how to keep owners from taking off – or overheating – when the speedometer reaches 250.
dPhotos by Ron Perry