By on March 3, 2016

Bugatti Chiron, Front, Image: Bugatti

How about that new Bugatti Chiron? It looks pretty good to me. Better than the last one, anyway.

I always got the impression that its predecessor, the Veyron, wasn’t styled so much as it was excreted. There was just something unpleasant about it; I think the term used in modern architecture is “Brutalist,” and it describes objects that are designed to force themselves on the viewer without gentleness or grace. It applies well to the the Veyron, which was a technical achievement first, a statement of insane Gilded Age wealth second, and a car either third — or perhaps not at all.

Next to the sleek, purposeful-looking Chiron, the Veyron is a squat lump of offensive conspicuous consumption. Yet it had, and continues to have, an undeniable and magnetic attraction. One of our very occasional contributors at TTAC is a fellow who has owned everything from a Lagonda to a 458 to a Ford GT, and all at the same time to boot. For something like three years, however, his Facebook profile photo was of him behind the wheel of a Veyron. It is an object to which even the enormously wealthy aspire. Nothing says “my other car is a Gulfstream” quite like the Beetle-esque Bugatti.

The conventional auto journo wisdom about the Chiron, currently being vomited across every lifestyle magazine’s front page, is that it’s “boring” or “stupid” or “pointless.” This position, it goes almost without saying, borders on the moronic. The Veyron is the fastest mass-produced car that has ever lived. Res ipsa loquitur. No bona fide production vehicle has ever come close to the big Bug’s top speed. To compare this fully-realized and thoroughly bespoke automobile to a Callaway Sledgehammer or some other three-miles-and-a-cloud-of-oil-smoke tuner vehicle is the modern-day version of saying that your father is a TV repairman and he has this ultimate set of tools. There is nothing boring or commonplace about being able to drive a vehicle off the showroom floor and immediately accelerate it to a speed that would have won the 1926 Schneider Trophy. Which, by the way, was for airplanes.

No, my primary concern about the new Chiron, other than my iron-clad certainty that TTAC probably won’t get a slot at the wine-and-cheese overseas press preview, is that it will be too good. Wait. I’m entirely serious. Let’s get real for a minute and talk about why we haven’t yet had a French kind of revolution in this country, only with the famed “one percent” playing the role of the aristocrats and some populist demagogue in the part of Robespierre.

Scorched car in Paris suburb, November 2005, Image: Alain Bachellier/Flickr

Sure, some of it’s the numbing effect that television and YouTube and online gaming has on young people. Hard to take any time out from your World of Warcraft campaign to sharpen a guillotine, am I right? And it’s also tough to imagine people taking up arms in the cause of economic redistribution when most of them can’t even be bothered to vote.

What I want to suggest, however, is that there is a social contract between the truly wealthy and the rest of us, and it goes something like this: As long as there’s no conclusive proof that money buys unadulterated happiness, nobody’s going to whip up a militia and raze Martha’s Vineyard or Jackson Hole or Napa to the ground. (The town, not the auto parts store.) We all accept that it’s great to be rich, but we also believe that there are consequences to said richness that we would perhaps dislike. As an example, don’t you truly enjoy going to McDonald’s on a whim without drawing a crowd or worrying about being kidnapped? Sure you do.

It’s great to have a massive mansion; it’s terrible to keep it clean and in good repair. Owning a private plane, particularly something like a King Air, is a genuine joy, but they do tend to arrow into the ground, or the sea, quite a bit more often than the flying Greyhound known as the Southwest Airlines 737-300. With the exception of that old guy who married Anna Nicole Smith, I can’t think of a single instance where simply buying something expensive makes you just as happy as you’d hoped it would.

Lamborghini Countach, Image: Contri/Flickr

Exotic cars used to be part of that mixed-blessing bag. Not even Ferruccio Lamborghini could get satisfaction out of his Ferrari ownership experience, which led to him creating a whole bunch of cars where you have to open the door and hang out like a monkey in order to back out of your parking space. The most reliable part of a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was the transmission, which came out of an Oldsmobile Delta 88 or something like that.

There’s always been a sort of noblesse oblige involved in owning the most expensive cars available, whether it’s the Testarossa’s proclivity for engine-out servicing or the thousand little foibles of the P38-generation Range Rover. My father bought one of the latter vehicles new, at my encouraging, and it spent something like eight months in the shop out of the four years he had it. There were so many ways to accidentally drain the battery that Dad had to basically perform a pre-flight check every time he left it parked more than 24 hours. All windows fully up? Check. Steering wheel pointed dead straight ahead? Check. All known remotes for the vehicle separated from the vehicle, and each other, by at least 50 feet? Copy that, Ghost Rider.

The man on the street, therefore, might resent his economic and social betters a bit for having a nicer car than he did, but he could also smirk at the trials and tribulations visited on anybody who dared to drive anything more ambitious or exotic than a Cadillac Coupe de Ville. That, I think, is something that all of the auto journalists miss when they criticize the Lincoln Navigator or the Cadillac XTS or even the Lexus ES350.

2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Image: © 2012 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

They (we?) want to believe that the buyer of a Lexus ES is too stupid to realize that it’s just a Camry, when, in fact, the buyer is perfectly aware that it’s just a very nice Camry. That’s what he wants. He doesn’t want to be a “beta tester” for Bristol or Pagani. He just wants a nice seat and a decent stereo. And he doesn’t want to be on a first-name basis with his service advisor the way I was back when I had two VW Phaetons at once.

That, in a nutshell, was the automotive social contract, and it was reinforced every time you drove your Ford Tempo past a stalled-out Ferrari 348ts smoking on the side of the road. Lately, however, I have to say that the exotics aren’t keeping their part of the bargain. The Ferrari 488GTB, which I tested as part of Road & Track’s “Performance Car of the Year”, is a smooth-running sweetheart in all circumstances. The Lamborghini Huracan can be driven in bad weather and nothing leaks as a consequence. The Rolls-Royce Ghost and Wraith might as well be Honda Accords for all the willful eccentricity they display.

In short, today’s exotic cars aren’t just exotic; they’re also just plain good. They start without fuss and idle with the A/C on and have backup cameras. I’m not saying that the McLaren 675LT will have the long-term running costs of a four-cylinder Camry, but I am saying that when you read the McLaren owners’ forums you don’t see a lot of horror stories.

There is every danger, therefore, that the Bugatti Chiron will be a stunning-looking, massively powerful, 261-mph Concorde-for-the-road that can also be driven by your grandmother to pick up her medication. It might not catch fire in public. Somebody might get 100,000 miles out of one. In short, it threatens to completely revise the way we think of cars that cost nearly $3 million.

What will happen when the word gets out? Well, I expect that Occupy Wall Street will have a resurgence, only this time they’ll be blockading parking garages. Nobody’s going to let your Chiron out into traffic from a side street. “Why bother?” the woman driving the minivan will say to her kids, right before she cuts you off. “It’s not like his dual-clutch transmission will overheat while he’s waiting.”

If the Chiron is too good — and this is a big “if”, granted — it might even give the young people in this country a genuine mote of dust around which the crystal of effective populism could coalesce. Imagine what would happen if a Presidential candidate promised to tax the Chiron out of existence. “A chicken in every pot, and no Chirons in Kim Kardashian’s garage!” That’s right. It could change the course of politics in America, permanently. It could be just the push that’s required for our own little American revolution, via ballot and not bullet. Who needs superdelegates when you have the raw power of Chiron-induced class warfare behind you?

So I have just one bit of advice for the nice people at Volkswagen Group: Before you release this undeniably gorgeous hypercar, maybe you should give it a few flaws. Like Cindy Crawford’s mole, y’know? Make sure it’s not too flawless. ‘Cause if you don’t … well, are you truly ready for what future generations will doubtless call the Chiron-Sanders effect?

[Image: Bugatti Chiron courtesy of manufacturer; Burnt car, Alain Bachellier/Flickr; Lamborghini, Contri/Flickr; Lexus, © 2012 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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124 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: The Chiron-Sanders Effect...”


  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Had I won the billion dollar lotto, the Veyron would still not be on my list of cars I would want. It is fast for sure, but it is heavy. Almost 300C heavy so it needs 1000 ponies to make it decently quick. Give me a lightweight car with decent power any day. A 300hp Miata would be more fun on a track than the EB Turd. Or a Viper ACR.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      True, but that’s because the Veyron is not a track car. A plastic sled would be more fun to ride down a snowy hill than a park bench.

      • 0 avatar
        doctorv8

        It’s actually not bad at all around a track, assuming you know how to manage an obese car’s tires….

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/review-2010-bugatti-veyron-16-4/

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Indeed. If I had that kind of money I would buy a feedback machine. So much steering feel I’d need to wear gloves to keep my hands from going numb. NA engine with a cable throttle. Etc etc

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      I agree — the Chiron is a much more cohesive design than the Veyron. But — what’s up with those door handles? They look like something out of the VW parts bin! The Chiron should have had flush door handles similar to the DBS or Tesla. Maybe I’m asking too much for my $2.5M.

      I hope the Chiron actually makes a profit compared to the $5M per vehicle loss the Veyron provided to VW.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Does anyone have any credible stats to back up what I’ve heard/read as anywhere from a million to 5 million dollar (USD) loss on every Veyron sold?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Either the headline photo is offset slightly, or the headlamps are not aligned properly. Either way it’s bothering me. They look all crookedy on the passenger side.

    And I love Brutalist architecture! Oh you want your house to blend into the forest warmth and be one with nature? No. Here’s unfinished concrete and hard angles – live with it.

    http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/InternationalTo.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I hated most Brutalist buildings I saw until I spent some time in person looking at Habitat 67 in Montreal.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I like that one too. Every person living there gets a unique viewpoint out their window. No element of sameness or repetition.

      • 0 avatar
        facelvega

        Moshe Safdie just spat out his coffee in Somerville, not knowing that it was a cosmological response to someone somewhere calling his building brutalist. That’s like saying Giugiaro was doing pretty much the same thing as Pininfarina in 67. Oops, now Giorgio Giugiaro has just spit out his espresso. See what you made me do?

        ps, JB, the term refers to the raw concrete, i.e. “beton brut”, though when Reyner Banham turned it into a term in English, he did mean some of what you suspect. Now Banham, there was an architectural historian who could appreciate a lumbering detroit luxobarge.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      (click)(smile) Brutalism meets Fallingwater; I love it.

      Long before first person shooters made use of the device, I always thought Brutalist architecture was incomplete without a healthy covering of vines and creepers; something about the earth trying to erase the structure harmonized with the raw forms.

      And I’m certain you won’t continually bump your head or suffer chronic respiratory infections in that structure.

      I’m seeing a less-than straight line through the light pods as well, although it looks more like the same stagger is evident on both sides of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s probably a rendering.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hmm but the shadows and reflections are all spot on! Plus I feel like those stairs are at their factory or the old Bugatti estate or something. I’ve definitely seen their cars in front of them before.

        *shakes fist* Damn computers, too good at rendering today.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      That is absolutely horrific.

      It looks like a parking deck smashed into a bomb shelter,

      I’m a big fan of modern & even post-modern architecture (i.e. cubism) done properly, just as I’m a big fan of French Provincial architecture done properly.

      What’s “done properly?” In addition to a mathematical formula known to the world’s best architects (that deals with proportionality as to how a structure’s length relative to its height affects its aesthetic appeal), I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It is built by Volkswagen so I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be too perfect.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    “For something like three years, however, his Facebook profile photo was of him behind the wheel of a Veyron.”

    LOL, til he got married!

  • avatar

    $3 Million to be able to go a possible 300 MPH is worth every penny.

    Unlike those PATHETIC non-production, non-street legal, “supercars” like the KOENIGNGIENESEGENSGES whatever and the Hennessey Venom Lotus…

    THE BUGATTI VEYRON SUPER SPORT is the fastest MOST POWERFUL Street-Legal production car IN THE WORLD.

    The Chiron will now be the new king.

    • 0 avatar
      doctorv8

      Hennessey modified a Lotus, so I get that, but the Koenigsegg is a true production car in every sense of the word. I wouldn’t lump those 2 together.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        I cant stand John Hennessey or most American ‘tuners’ but I draw the line at criticism of Koeniggsegg. I dont even like the Agera and CCR/CCX whatevers but at least here’s a humble guy who just wants to make street legal supercars. And he does it quite well.

        Like Horatio Pagani he’s one of the few artisans of our ‘hobby’ (as it were) and like many things European, they both do their stuff in a such a classy manner, and trust me, I dont even like Europeans very much but the way Pagani and Koeniggsegg does this is by several orders better than this Bugatti and most American adventures at this level.

        To me the Chiron is doubling down on the 1% culture of the world. I rememeber many saying that the Veyron is one of a kind, a $1.5 million dollar hypercar that costs VW $3 million to make and they themselves were sort of resigned to never going down this path ever again and yet here we are.

        Btw. the Veyron did 407km/h? This does 420km/h?

        I also think this article is fairly nonsense in a peculiar Baruth way. Surely the Gordon Gekko classic 911 Porsche showed that the rich had their own Volkswagen too… the reliability of traditional luxury cars has been known for decades now. Its not a dividing factor although even I have had the ignominy of having a new Mercedes getting towed on a flatbed. At least they put a sheet over it like a horse about to be euthanised.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      For $3 million you could learn to fly, and buy meaningful amounts of flying time, in airplanes that will go 300 mph in many more places than the one or two high-speed tracks in the world where it’s actually possible to let a Veyron or Chiron loose without dying and committing felonies.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Right, like you’re going to be able to to 300 mph on a public road. Good luck with that, even in Germany.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        FreedMike – more of a case of my status symbol is bigger than your status symbol.

        I used to see this first hand when I rode sport bikes. The majority of young bucks in their colour matched gear and racereplica bikes spent most of their time deciding where to meet and primp and preen.

        My focus was the opposite, lets find a twisty road with the purpose of removing chicken strips from the back tire.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll fly my Chiron to the salt flats once I earn a Quarter-of-a-billion.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Chiron is a perfect example of absolute & unmitigated conspicuous consumption.

      Aside from the arguably modest difference in aesthetic improvements between it and the Veyron, the price differential to be able to travel at an extra 8 miles per hour is the price of two additional, new Veyrons.

      And before anyone launches into a physics lecture, I’m well aware of the very basic, rudimentary properties of aerodynamics and how that relates to what it takes to achieve that additional 8 mph versus a “garden variety” Veyron, and my point still stands.

      It’s a mass inefficiency in terms of the additional benefit being quite marginal given the astronomical additional cost.

      The diminishing returns on that price differential would only’not offend my sensibilities if that 0.031 differential was an improvement in efficacy of a drug designed to defeat a particular form of cancer.

      We’re beyond the logical gap even by standards of supercars or additional several feet of length vs uber-wealthy neighbors custom built super yachts, now.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    *shrug*

    I find as time goes on, I care less and less about cars like this. They’re completely *unattainable* for me. Heck, it’s unlikely I’ll even be able to *touch* one. So for the most part I don’t care that much. I’m certainly not going to waste any time arguing its merits/demerits as though I’m some 11-year-old boy who is totally convinced Lamborghini is like way better than Ferrari.

    And I usually bristle at the people who wax poetically about its “impressive engineering.” I’m not all that impressed that they could do this on what is pretty close to an unlimited budget. You want to impress me? Do this car for $400,000.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    I feel terribly sorry for the extravagantly-super-wealthy. There are only so many earthly pleasures you can partake in before the law of diminishing returns rears its ugly head. We simple folks have an easier time finding fulfillment and gratification in more reasonable, feasible (legal?) avenues.

    By the way, nice allusion to the Reichvolkswagen Beetle.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    “…is that it will be too good.”

    And here we come to the elephant in the room. When it comes to modern cars, we have an embarrassment of riches at all price points.

    I just got back from Las Vegas where, at the rental counter and on a whim, I exchanged the Corolla for a base Mustang convertible. I was stunned at how good this $30K convertible was. Three hundred horsepower, independent rear suspension, no cowl shake (although that might not be the case on poorer roads) and great seats and styling all combined in a magical way. It made me feel *affluent* in a way that I wasn’t expecting. It even had room in the trunk for our bags with the top down, a genuine surprise.

    I’ve never flown a King Air, being a VFR PP ASEL, I limit myself to lowly Cessnas. On this trip I rented a T-41B (a C172 with an IO-540). It was plenty fine for our air tour to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. It was awesome making the downwind-to-base turn over the Canyon to land at Grand Canyon West, I’ll never forget that view.

    My point is this: There’s no need to spend all that money when one can spend a fraction thereof and have 90-95% of the thrill. I don’t envy the rich, I know that large sums of money bring great responsibilities.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      That sound’s like fun bunkie! In fact it would be a blast to fly all around the west coast.

      I love 172s, Cherokees, and Warriors. They’re the Accords and Camrys of the GA world (only more exciting cause airplane) but the newer stuff is a blast to fly.

      If you get a chance, try a TTX, SR22 or Twin Star. You’ll still appreciate the 172. It’s a good airplane that’s been around for a while but the new birds are really good. Kinda like going from a V-6 Mustang to a GT350. And you don’t need to worry about pesky things like speed limits so the extra performance can be used eeryday.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Don’t forget the wonderful scenery from a plane. Never get tired of that. I personally feel much, much safer in even a small plane than a car. So much easier to die on the road. Think about it. Small plane crashes are so rare that they often make the national news when they occur. The roads are a meatgrinder in comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          They aren’t rare on a miles travelled basis. IIRC, light singles work out to be about as dangerous as motorcycles, and light twins are quite a bit worse.

          Commercial airlines are the safest way to travel period. Less than 200 deaths in the past 12-13 years in the US. Astounding given the miles travelled. We actually probably spend TOO much money on aviation safety (neglecting other forms of transportation safety – see recent Amtrak crash due to no positive train control), and I say that as someone who flies over 100K miles a year.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> Commercial airlines are the safest way to travel period.

            Very true – and as co-designed of a couple of those safety systems, something I’m proud of contributing to. Even though I know commercial is far safer, I just feel safer with the smaller plane even though I know I shouldn’t. I admit it’s a false sense of security!

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      ‘Tis a good point. I’ve always figured that beyond a certain price level, people get sharply diminishing returns for the vastly more money they spend. Not sure exactly what that price is, but it seems logical.

      As to Jack’s worry, I kinda doubt supercar competence will lead Bern’ing it down. To be honest, the 0.1% compared to everyone else is already ridiculously slanted in the 0.1% favor, “working supercars” is just the cherry ontop of an ice cream mountain. I think most of this competence is caused by all the super car makers becoming appendages of giant car conglomerates, who when they bought in took a quick look around the offices and the artinsal factory and said “OK, this is changing.” So now those megabuck carbon fiber sleds are engineered on a level unimaginable in the 70s and 80s.

      The most obvious example is the old vs. new Rolls Royce, which went from being a shitty car with a Iconic figurine on the hood to a bank vault of luxury and competence.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    I think I’d rather buy a Maserati Mamamobilia, or whatever it is. I can never remember these Italian trim names, but wow are they fun to say. :)

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’ve been saying for some time now that you can’t buy a “bad” new car in America these days – unless you spend over $100,000.

    The reality is that a $30,000 Ford is an objectively-better automobile than a $300,000 Ferrari, in the sense that you can – for the most part – just put gas in it, start it up, drive it and forget about it.

    Try doing that with an exotic.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Did you read Jack’s article?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Jack’s article does not contemplate the maintenance costs of an exotic. Even if they now actually work as cars, the servicing is still going to be frequent and expensive compared to an ordinary car. Which nowadays needs nearly nothing in the first 100K miles.

        Which is fine by me, if you can afford to buy one, you can afford to maintain it. IIRC, just a set of wheels and tires for a Veyron were something like 50K, and the wheels had a mileage limit. You still have to pay to play, even if it starts every day.

  • avatar
    Zeitgeist

    “Burnt car” = Renault 19

  • avatar
    SWA737

    the two most dangerous things in aviation;

    a rich guy flying his own airplane, and a flight attendant with braces.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    “only this time they’ll be blockading parking garages”

    Or ‘accidentally’ bumping into them with rusty uninsured beaters.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “They (we?) want to believe that the buyer of a Lexus ES is too stupid to realize that it’s just a Camry, when, in fact, the buyer is perfectly aware that it’s just a very nice Camry.”

    Actually, the ES isn’t a Camry anymore – it’s pretty much an Avalon these days.

    But even so, I don’t see the point in comparing the market for a $40,000 sedan to a supercar that costs as much as a house. The big difference is that the $40,000 sedan driver is going to demand his car work consistently. The supercar buyer more or less expects it’s be a finicky beast. By the standards of 30 years ago, that translated to “won’t work about 25% of the time,” but today probably means “25% more problems than the average Accord,” which is to say that it’d be a LONG way below Ram in the JD Power studies, but not unreliable. Either way, most likely that Veyron won’t see daily driving use. That’s what the S-class Benz is for.

    Plus, there’s this: who in his right mind takes a $250,000 Ferrari to the grocery store, where some dimbulb can launch an errant cart at it?

    And I wouldn’t call the Veyron “brutalist.” When I think of that, I think of concrete block buildings with style. The Veyron was more of a modern take on 1930’s Bugatti designs. It was more baroque than brutalist-spare. I don’t know what the tag for that design school would be…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Jack, this isn’t even trying very hard. Although that makes it kind of funny and the humor is good.

    Even if the Chiron proves reliable while inching along Rodeo Drive, I’d still take a car that doesn’t have $40,000 tires with a 5000-mile lifespan as a daily driver. And if a rich guy feels otherwise, I couldn’t care less as long as (unlike today, for most rich people) he pays taxes comparable to those less-rich people pay.

    If I had unlimited money, I’d have just five cars:

    – A leased Audi SQ5 as a family/outdoor mobile and wife’s daily driver
    – Some full-size luxury sedan (S63? S8?) on lease
    – A six-cylinder Boxster of some type (GTS? Spyder?)
    – Something old, weird and fun in the spirit of the Legend I own today
    – A restored Ranger or S-10

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Is taxing the hell out of rich people really the answer? I don’t think so.

      What I’d like to see, though, is more a change in how taxes for rich people are structured. As it is, someone with eight figures in wealth can sit on his butt, and let his financial advisor just buy and sell stocks all day for a two or three percent return. On $10 million, that’s $200,000 in income for doing nothing. And this is taxed at 14%, versus the guy whose business makes him that money, or a guy who gets a W2 for that amount – they pay 35%.

      And the “investor” class has very little risk with this – sure, the equity markets fluctuate, but unless the Dow goes to zero one day, they’re not going to lose it all, like someone who invests $10 million in a business can.

      The net effect of this, I think, is that it takes a lot of wealth out of business creation. Now, if I had $10 million and could make 200 large by fishing every day, and get a 21% break on your tax rate by doing it, of course that’s what I’d do. Who wouldn’t?

      But the question is how to put that wealth to use, versus just letting it churn endlessly on Wall Street.

      I’m thinking instead of taxing the wealthy per se, remove the incentives for doing nothing with the money, and incentivize investing it in businesses. THAT would create jobs.

      I don’t support Sanders, but he’s right when he says the system is rigged as it is now. Wall Street LOVES this arrangement – why wouldn’t it? – and that’s why it’s in place.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I’m not asking to “tax the hell” out of rich people. I’m asking for capital gains taxation that ends up being roughly equal to rates on ordinary income, so that rich people pay a fair share. That’s a complicated thing to achieve — there are a lot of moving pieces, and it’s fair to try to avoid double taxation — but we are nowhere remotely close today.

        That would equalize the playing field between capital and labor, which is currently badly tilted in favor of capital, resulting in some of the effects you’re complaining about.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “On $10 million, that’s $200,000 in income for doing nothing. And this is taxed at 14%, versus the guy whose business makes him that money, or a guy who gets a W2 for that amount – they pay 35%.”

        Keep in mind, they don’t pay 35%. They only pay 35% on the last few dollars they make (and I don’t think $200k gets you to the 35% tax bracket anyways). On $200k, your effective rate, depending on deductions and such, is going to get you down around that 14% number.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          You’re leaving out employee- and employer-side payroll taxes (or equivalent self-employment taxes), and it gets much worse above $200k. If a shareholder in a company sells shares and gets $500k in capital gains as a result, depending on circumstances he will probably get to keep ~$450k. By contrast, if the company budgets 500k to employ a professional worker, after employer-side payroll taxes, employee-side payroll taxes, and income taxes, that worker is likely to see ~$300k, and that’s before state and local tax. It’s good to be an idle heir.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Thanks for the correct, Chris. You get my point, though – if I were a business owner making enough money to kick me to the 35% bracket, and my neighbor paid 14% on the same amount by just having his stocks continually churned, I think I’d be a little bit torqued.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “Thanks for the correct, Chris. You get my point, though – if I were a business owner making enough money to kick me to the 35% bracket, and my neighbor paid 14% on the same amount by just having his stocks continually churned, I think I’d be a little bit torqued.”

            Yes, but still, the 35% tax bracket doesn’t get you to a 35% tax RATE. It’s still going to be somewhere between a little and a lot lower, because the first $200k isn’t going to be taxed at 35%. Only the last few dollars (and $200k only gets you to 28% marginally). Sure, if you make like $10M a year, your effective rate will be like 34% because such a small amount is taxed at the lower rate, but few people make that kind of money in W2 income. For people in the lower six figures, your effective rate is always going to be dragged down via your first few hundred grand being taxed at a lower rate.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The nasty trick with that first ~100k of income is that you pay 6.5% payroll tax, and your employer another 6.5%, on every penny of it. Those taxes don’t apply to income above $118,500. Particularly from the employer’s perspective (which is what matters if you’re concerned with equalizing workers’ and heirs’ treatment), the payroll taxes eat a lot of the income tax savings from generous deductions and lower bracketed rates.

            If I were dictator I’d cancel them altogether and make up the shortfall through taxing capital gains at rates intended to make them no more or less attractive than ordinary income. (That’s not to say capital gains and income rates should be identical — some but not all capital gains are effectively post-another-tax, while virtually no ordinary income is being double-taxed.)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I can’t really see the Social Security portion of the payroll taxes as a tax. In theory, you are paying in so you get that check every month when you retire – it’s an insurance scheme. I realize the money isn’t going into an account for you technically, but that is effectively what it is. Despite doom and gloom and slight adjustments, Social Security is not going away. It’s a better deal than most insurance schemes, you have a decent chance of getting back more than you put in. For sure my Grandparents made more from SS than they ever paid in, simply due to longevity. If you die before that point, oh well, pays for those who don’t.

            I too am all for increased capital gains taxation. And for sure, closing that nice loophole that lets so many Wall Streeters treat what is really earned income as capital gains.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            In the end, Social Security is just a government social insurance program like any other. (And that’s a good thing — by world standards it’s been phenomenally successful and efficiently run!) The trust fund is just window dressing to make it look less like welfare for political purposes. If and when the trust fund runs out of money, you can bet your house Social Security will be funded from general taxation. It would be more honest and result in a less regressive tax policy to include Social Security revenue and expenses together with the rest of the budget.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      @dal

      I see your cars, and I’ll raise you a limousine, downsized Coupe de Ville with fuel injection mod, and LSX’d X308.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Are we doing unlimited money garages? I’ll go next.

      – A leased Audi Q7 as a familyhauler/wife vehicle, since she insists on a 3rd row for our 1 kid so we can haul friends and gear.
      – Midsize luxury sedan with AWD. Something low key is fine for me, probably an Infiniti M or a Genesis. I don’t need to impress anybody.
      – a 987.2 Boxster with some track prep (seats, harnesses). Nice thing is that it’s much less intrusive modification-wise to what I had to do with my S2000, plus there are those awesome OE bucket seats from the GTx models.
      – A classic restomod, leaning toward something less common like a green RoadRunner. if I was doing it with real money it would probably be a mustang though because of price for both the car and parts.
      – A 4-door Wrangler Rubicon – I’d like something that can go top down with the whole family, love Wranglers, want something that can do offroad if I wanted to, and it would make a fun beach cruiser too.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Very nice.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        So thankful that my wife is a worshipper at the Church of Smaller Cars. She emphatically doesn’t want a CUV any bigger than our current Forester or a third row. In the real-money world the next one is likely going to be a lightly used Infiniti QX50.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        All I want is a Fiat 500x…with a Hellcat under the hood. :)

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Weren’t there rumors of a 500X Abarth? The engine from the Alfa 4C should fit.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            True, and that’s probably what I’ll end up getting in real life. But since it seems like FCA is intent on Hellcat-ing everything in the Jeep lineup, and most of the Dodge lineup also, may as well work on the Fiats too. How far out do you figure is the 500 Hellcat? Or the 124 Spyder Hellcat?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Wouldn’t a 500X Hellcat end up balanced on its front wheels and bumper, with the back wheels up in the air, every time the brakes are tapped? I guess put wheelie bars on the front and you’re good to go.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Fantasy garage= I’d go with a 2017 F150 Raptor, a mildly lifted 2017 Power Wagon with 35’s, a Wrangler Unlimited with a lift, winch, 35’s. An F450 with a 54 ft long toy hauler full of sport bikes, muscle bikes, dirt bikes, and ATV’s.
        Car?
        I’ve always lusted after the Aston Martin DB9. Maybe a matt black carbon edition.
        Oh, A red and black 69′ Mach 1 Mustang and a yellow 69′ Cougar Eliminator. Both with Top loader 4 speeds and 429 SCJ’s.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          My fantasy trucks are an old square Suburban on 35s with a Duramax swap, a 55-57 Chevy/GMC stepside shortbed swapped onto a more modern 4×4 chassis, and a twin turbo 4BT swapped IH Scout.

          Hell yeah.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          My fantasy garage goes back and forth between the half-dozen cars I’ve always wanted (993, NSX, F355, 550 Maranello, 930, S2000, etc) and just being that beach bum with a single newer 911. Fulfilling the dreams of my high school self obviously has appeal, but so does the simplicity of having just one cool (low key) car.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        For my fantasy garage, I would keep what I currently have and just add more. Well, I would have a PERFECT Holland & Holland P38 Range Rover instead of my shabby chic HSE and have my Spitfire frame off restored. But the two BMWs are right there. Maybe add a Phaeton as a going out to dinner car. I’d love to have another ’69 Saab Sonett and another ’91 318is. A Series Rover. Maybe a few more, nothing particularly exotic, that is not how my tastes run. Probably would want a Ferrari 308GTB or an E-type as the most exotic.

        I don’t want to be rich. I would like to have enough investments to live comfortably off the income at my current standard of living. $5-6M would do it with the mortgage paid off. I am not greedy nor particularly high maintenance. I would probably buy and sell classic cars for fun to stay occupied. Buy, play with for a while, sell. Small profit or loss wouldn’t matter much. Prefer a small profit so the IRS doesn’t classify it as a hobby business.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “The Rolls-Royce Ghost and Wraith might as well be Honda Accords for all the willful eccentricity they display.”

    Yes, Rolls-Royces and other such brands are no longer engineered (and assembled) by hairy-chested Englishmen at the local pub. They have far better ergonomics, safety and probably build-quality. But, owing to their German owners, they likely display a different kind of unreliability, which is the modern German practice of over-engineering things to the point that they fail expensively and catastrophically. Thing is, that’s the sort of unreliability that doesn’t really affect you unless you drive the car often. So it’ll show up on a Bimmer that gets daily-driven, but not necessarily a Rolls-Royce that stays on the battery tender most of the time.

    I have no doubt Aston-Martin will see a similar effect now that it has swapped its relatively-robust Ford/Volvo powertrain and electronics architectures for Mercedes-AMG wares in the new DB11.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Have you seen the new Rolls “Black Badge” whatever, for the “Youthful person who wants extra individuality?” Apparently it’s going to be a permanent trim level.

      The insides are PURPLE AND BLACK with carbon fiber in their example pics. I almost barfed.

      https://news.yahoo.com/rolls-royce-goes-back-black-144134451.html

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Gross.

        Rolls-Royce has lost all amounts of class these days, between this and the company’s (borderline-offensive) pandering to new Chinese money with their “Special Red Dragon Centennial Edition” models.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I kinda thought you were kidding with that. But no – YUCK. The former owners at Vickers probably get their stomachs churning when they look at this.

          http://static0.bornrichimages.com/wp-content/uploads/s3/1/2012/04/10/rolls_royce_phantom_year_of_the_dragon_edition_sfrk9.jpg

          http://www.carnewschina.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/rolls-royce-phantom-china-dragon-interior-3-458×343.jpg?756232

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I kind of miss the Vickers days.

            I’m not sure how the Chinese customers feel, but I myself would be unimpressed with that version. If I’m buying something as English (and German) as a Rolls-Royce, I want it to be properly English…not English, but decorated with a tacky interpretation of my own culture.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You’d think RR would be above such marketing gimmickry. Leave that nonsense for Beretta Heartbeat of America editions! And like you said, if I’m buying a British marque, it should be more British than a Hongqui Red Flag sedan.

            Ugh.

            Let your annoyance pass by looking at a non-gimmick RR.
            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/1999_Rolls-Royce_Silver_Spur%2C_fL%2C_Lime_Rock.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Gorgeous.

          • 0 avatar
            Whatnext

            Never underestimate the Chinese love for ostentatious vulgarity.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          it’s like they looked at what Mansory is doing to their cars and said “Hey, that seems good!”

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If you had shown me that picture without context I would have guessed it was a Mansory Rolls.

  • avatar
    maranello

    I’ve read that these things are essentially technical vanity projects that despite their price tags cost more to build than what the manufacturer charges. Allegedly that was the case with the technological tour de force I remember being mesmerized by as kid in car magazines, the Porsche 959. As a car nut the closest I’ll get is gawking at one behind a velvet rope but I’m glad that there are still people willing to make them.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    The term “brutalist” in architecture does not refer to “brutal” as in punishingly or hard or comfortable or the like, but is short for the modernist style that uses raw concrete (“béton brut”). Sure, many people have come to view the resulting look as “brutal” but that’s not where that term comes from. When done right, I rather like the elegant functional simplicity of the style, which is something you can’t say about the design of the Veyron or Chiron.

  • avatar
    John

    God Bless Anna Nicole Smith, you never saw a picture of her elderly husband without a huge smile on his face – she gave hope to old guys everywhere.

  • avatar
    stuki

    A major reason for exotics’ newfound “reliability”, is that they are no longer driven. Just parked in Leno’s garage. Or similar such’s in the dry Nevada dessert. Lest they lose their “value.”

    The mission given the engineering team, is simply to build something that lasts long enough to garner a good Top Gear review. After all, racing in the Spec Sheet series, isn’t nearly as hard on competitors’ mechanicals, as it is on their wallets.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Bread and Circuses doesn’t work because the elite don’t have orgies and cake, it works because the 99.9 are fed and amused. Entirely amusing and thought provoking all the same. VW has money to lose on this vanity project? A new fastest car? Another worlds tallest skyscraper? Time to safe the savings, the bubble’s getting thin.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    So by building reliable supercars “they” will be fueling the next proletariat revolt against the bourgeoisie?

    It will happen much more quickly as long as we continue to neglect the lower 1/3 of society and allow more of the middle 1/3 to join them.

    This thread would of been much more fun with CJ around. LOL.

  • avatar
    redliner

    It is telling that this is the first article about the Chiron that I have taken the time go reed, despite being bombards with stories on different sites. Why?

    Because as impressive as this car is, it isn’t really that surprising. Anyone with an unlimited budget can make a superlative vehicle. The engineer in me is impressed when a car is technically and subjectively brilliant at more attainable levels.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Really loving the Baruth pieces these days. Class warfare agrees with you.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    So mnay interesting points Jack raises but didn’t pursue. The Sanders effect for one, certainly cars like the Chiron are a symbol of a broken social contract that developed in the early 20th century where wealth was redisstributed to prevent the masses from beheading the rich. The even more intriguing flip side is why poor white Republicans look to Trump as their standard bearer for the same discontent.

    As to the Chiron, it is a disgusting waste of VW resources. This can’t be justified as a halo car, 99.9% of car buyers have no idea Bugatti is a VW product. And doesn’t Bentley cast enough halo for the VW group anyway? The fact that VW drags its feet on a diesel fix while they squander resources on a bagatelle like this makes me less likely than anything else so far to buy another one of their products.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I’m a leftie, but I’m actually okay with the Veyron and Chiron. They’re more ambitious and unique than the slew of cookie-cutter supercars out there now. Very cool engineering projects.

    I’m bored of cars like the Rezvani Beast (?), the Koenigseggs, McLarens… I’d probably rather drive those than a Bugatti, but they’re getting repetitive. Standard wedge shape, more power than I’d know what to do with, ugly interior, rinse and repeat. They don’t do a good job separating themselves from the $150k-$250k supercars in terms of styling. And they’re boring to read about, because they’re fast and good and there’s not much more to say about them.

  • avatar
    Hogie roll

    The veyron is the dream of every 10 year old fulfilled. It was inevitable that there would finally be an uber car that successfully combined A large engine with turbos and awd. I’m glad someone finally did it. But it’s not exactly my dream car anymore.

  • avatar
    jxpatt

    Right on the money about the potential problems arising from envy, should the conspicuous consumer move beyond a certain, tacitly accepted, social contract. In Europe in particular, where success is viewed with suspicion and its flaunting with derision, I think this car might be a difficult proposition…


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