The Truth About Cars » Bugatti http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:35:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Bugatti http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com I Woke Up In A Used Bugatti http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/i-woke-up-in-a-used-bugatti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/i-woke-up-in-a-used-bugatti/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 05:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=781257 ( video and lyrics NSFW) Once the domain of mainstream luxury brands, certified pre-owned programs are starting to filter down to mainstream brands…and apparently, to Bugatti as well. Though scant on details, AutoGuide reports that Bugatti will apparently be offering a new CPO program. Given the limited number of Veyron’s on the market, it’s safe to […]

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( video and lyrics NSFW)

Once the domain of mainstream luxury brands, certified pre-owned programs are starting to filter down to mainstream brands…and apparently, to Bugatti as well.

Though scant on details, AutoGuide reports that Bugatti will apparently be offering a new CPO program. Given the limited number of Veyron’s on the market, it’s safe to assume than CPO cars will be reconditioned to tip-top shape and sold with the confidence of a factory authorized freshening – not that it would be a gateway into a luxury brand that a lesser CPO program might be.

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Eliška Junková: Conqueror Of The Green Hell, And Million Dollar Hypercars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/eliska-junkova-conqueror-of-the-green-hell-and-million-dollar-hypercars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/eliska-junkova-conqueror-of-the-green-hell-and-million-dollar-hypercars/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756681 If you follow the Internet, you’ve probably saw a news story about Bugatti offering yet another special edition of the Veyron  to help them get rid of remaining stock. This time, the Veyron Vitesse comes with special paint and  named after someone called “Elisabeth Junek”. And while Veyron special editions are pretty boring stuff, the […]

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If you follow the Internet, you’ve probably saw a news story about Bugatti offering yet another special edition of the Veyron  to help them get rid of remaining stock. This time, the Veyron Vitesse comes with special paint and  named after someone called “Elisabeth Junek”. And while Veyron special editions are pretty boring stuff, the lady in question is a true heroine, albeit one you’ve likely never heard of. And since she was one of my country’s greatest motoring legends, I feel obliged to tell Best&Brightest more about her.

Born Alžběta Pospíšilová, she met a young banker, Vincenc Junek, in late her teens. They did what young people do – fell in love – and what followed after that in early 20th century. They got married. Besides taking her husband’s surname, she changed her first name to “Eliška” to mimic (based on English/French/German version of her first name, Elisabeth). And yes, by acquiring a husband’s name “Junek”, she became “Junková” (as is the custom in the Czech language). So, while certain automotive blogging establishments say that she was “also known” as Eliška Junková, it’s the other way around.

Bugatti_T30

Spurred by her husband’s love of automobiles, Eliška started taking secret driving lessons and became one of the first woman in the country with a driving license. In those days, Czechoslovakia was modern, industrial and fairly rich country. And Vincenc, or “Čeněk”, as he was known, a succesful banker by this time, was able to afford the fine automobiles produced by Ettore Bugatti.

Even for just driving their Bugatti T30 on daily basis, Eliška would be quite a badass. But she wasn’t content with that. Her husband was slowly achieving success not only in banking, but also in amateur racing, and she was travelling with him, to serve as his co-driver/mechanic. Which makes her badass, times two.

This lasted up to the moment when Čeněk they acquired a second Bugatti, a new T35 model, and let Eliška drive the T30 in the Lochotín-Třemošná touring car race. Which she won. Of course, this being 1924, most men considered it nothing more than a sheer luck. Until she won again. And again.

The next year, she attended the Zbraslav-Jíloviště race with the T30, while her husband used the more powerful, more modern T35. Today, we can only imagine what a man in early 1920s was thinking when he found out that his own wife, driving the slower of the two family cars, has beaten him and everyone else in the race, to become first woman ever to win an internationally sanctioned race.

Still not enough? In 1927, Eliška Junková went to the famed “green hell”, the Nürburgring racing circuit, to race in the Germany Grand Prix – and won it (in the 3-litre class) as well. To this day, she is the only woman to win a class Grand Prix race.

450px-Ella_Junková

In 1927 and 1928, Junková also ran in one of the most famous and harshest races of its time – the Targa Florio road race in Sicily. For the first time ever, her Bugatti let her down and steering malfunction forced her to drop out of the race near its end. This grueling race consisted on 5 laps, about 70 miles each, on tight, winding Sicilian roads.

With just 100 horsepower and totally manual controls, Eliška Junková  was so small that she had to sit on a pillow to see out of the car, with specially lengthened pedals adapted to her short stature. This forced her to adopt driving techniques unusual for the time – while others were forcing the cars into the turns, skiding wildly, Mrs. Junková didn’t have enough strength to do that, so she chose a much more sophisticated approach, with a cleaner, more precise line. To achieve that, she also became one of the first racers to walk the course before the race itself, noting it’s profile and ideal line through turns.

At 1928 Targa Florio, she was set to win – even being in the lead for part of the race – but more technical problems left her on the 4th place in the end. Still, this meant she came to the finish line in front of legends like Tazio Nuvolari.

We can only speculate how her racing career would continue in the following years, had it not been cut short by a tragedy. At the 1928 Nürburgring Grand Prix, Eliška and Čeněk took turns driving their Bugatti. The accident happened shortly after Mrs. Junková vacated the place behind the wheel for her husband. Vincenc Čeněk lost control of his car on a soft asphalt, went off the track, rolled his car and hit a rock with his head, dying instantly. Devastated, Eliška Junková sold off all her racing cars and turned to her other passion, travelling.

But Bugattis played a role in her life even after that. She went to the Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), as she always wanted, equipped with a brand new Bugatti touring car, provided by Ettore Bugatti himself. She explored the possibilities of exporting Bugatti automobiles to the Ceylon and India. After her return, she worked for Baťa, world-famous shoe manufacturer.

Bugatti_T30

After the World War II and the Communist coup in 1948, she was deemed “too bourgeois”, and was barred from travelling abroad, with a single exception of travelling to the Targa Florio memorial drive in 1966. But she was lucky enough to live through the end of the Communist regime in 1989, even attending a Bugatti reunion in United States that same year. She died peacefully in 1994, at the age of 94 years.

One has to wonder what she would think about the Veyron Vitesse, which is about to bear her name? Would she love the fact that it has more than ten times the power of ther Bugattis? Or would she consider it too fancy and too distant from “real driving”? And what would happen had she not ended her career in 1928? Would there be an “Elisabeth Junek” Veyron much sooner?

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The Europeans Show Ford & GM How Losing Money Is Really Done http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/the-europeans-show-ford-gm-how-losing-money-is-really-done/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/the-europeans-show-ford-gm-how-losing-money-is-really-done/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 17:54:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=532073 Back in the 1950s, when Europe was still rebuilding after World War Two, Ford Motor Company and General Motors decided to show the world what a cost-no-object car was like in the American idiom. First Ford introduced the 1956 Continental Mark II, hand assembled down to the component level, that was said to lose $1,000 […]

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Chart: Economist.com

Back in the 1950s, when Europe was still rebuilding after World War Two, Ford Motor Company and General Motors decided to show the world what a cost-no-object car was like in the American idiom. First Ford introduced the 1956 Continental Mark II, hand assembled down to the component level, that was said to lose $1,000 on each and every $10,000 Mark II sold. Adjusting for inflation, that loss is the equivalent about $8,600 in 2013 money. A year later, GM started selling the Motorama influenced Eldorado Brougham, at an even steeper $13,074. Motor City lore has it that not only was the Eldo Brougham thousands more expensive than the Mark II, its loses exceeded those of the Mark II by thousands of dollars as well. Now the Sanford C. Bernstein brokerage has looked at how much money various European automakers have lost on particular cars since 1997.

 

VW takes the top spot with the Bugatti Veyron, which Bernstein says loses a breathtaking 4.6175 million euros per vehicle. Even discarding the Veyron as a special case, VW still would hold the top (or bottom) spot with our EIC pro tem’s beloved Volkswagen Phaeton, said to lose over 28,000 euros per car. The Veyron and Phaeton weren’t the only cars that were bigger financial flops, adjusted for inflation, than the Mark II and Eldorado Brougham were. Renault lost 18,710 euros for every one of the 64,000 Vel Satis pseudo-coupes they sold from 2001 to 2009 (no mention of its twin, the Avantime), and the Peugeot 1007 lost PSA 15,380 euros for each of the 123,000 units sold. Audi’s ahead-of-its-time aluminum A2 subcompact was an unsurprising addition to the list, while some of the other entrants, like the Jaguar X-Type and the Smart Fortwo, were just plain bad.

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Italy Cracks Down On Tax Cheats. Will Ferrari, Maserati & Lamborghini Go The Way Of Bugatti, Delahaye and Talbot-Lago? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/italy-cracks-down-on-tax-cheats-will-ferrari-maserati-lamborghini-go-the-way-of-bugatti-delahaye-and-talbot-lago/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/italy-cracks-down-on-tax-cheats-will-ferrari-maserati-lamborghini-go-the-way-of-bugatti-delahaye-and-talbot-lago/#comments Sun, 05 May 2013 16:39:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487337 TTAC alum Justin Berkowitz, over at Car and Driver, reports that a government crackdown on tax cheats has resulted in the Italian market for Italian supercars tanking. Ferrari sales went down 50% from 2011 to 2012. Maserati’s Italian sales have dropped 80% since 2009. Lamborghini is apparently selling no more than five cars a month […]

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TTAC alum Justin Berkowitz, over at Car and Driver, reports that a government crackdown on tax cheats has resulted in the Italian market for Italian supercars tanking. Ferrari sales went down 50% from 2011 to 2012. Maserati’s Italian sales have dropped 80% since 2009. Lamborghini is apparently selling no more than five cars a month in all of their home country.

 

The crackdown, which included checkpoint stops and revenue police visits to gatherings of car enthusiasts, was prompted by some pretty flagrant and apparently illegal tax avoidance, but the net result has been that even some tax compliant owners of high end cars have sold off their supercars and substituted less attention drawing rides. That means lower Italian sales for the very car companies that help define Italy in the minds of car enthusiasts world wide. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called his home market “a hostile environment for luxury goods”. Montezemolo pointed out that such luxury goods are an important “resource” for Italy, alluding to the foreign currency such goods bring in. Seven thousand cars is not a large figure in the car biz, but when you consider that the profit margin on a Ferrari is five, or possibly six figures, that’s a substantial ‘resource’, even before you add in Fila’s revenues on all those rosso corsa shirts and shoes. I’m no economist, just a guy who writes about cars, but if I were the Italian government, before I cracked down even harder on buyers of expensive cars I might consider what happened to the French car industry when the French government decided to lavish the tax man’s attention on luxury cars.

1938 Delahaye

1938 Delahaye

Once upon a time, not so very long ago actually, some of the very best cars in the world were French. Brands like Bugatti, Delahaye, Delage, Voisin, Facel and Talbot Lago stood for high performance but also a sense of style that stood out even in an era of magnificent automobiles that today are considered rolling sculpture. Drawing on generations of actual coach building, French automotive coachbuilders were kept busy by the, ahem, carriage trade in the period before World War Two. Today, none of those gloried French automakers exist. Yes, a division of Volkswagen owns the Bugatti brand and Ettore Bugatti’s former estate in Molsheim where Ferdinand Piech’s sttempt to show that he has the  biggest swinging dick in the automotive industry the Veyron is assembled, but nobody, even the folks who own Veyrons, think that the Veyron is a real Bugatti. Peter Mullin has real Bugattis.

Bugattis may have been at the top of le heap Francais, but the other French luxury marques were also highly regarded, so what happened? What happened was the notion of “fiscal horsepower”, cheval fiscal, abbreviated CV, as in the Citroen 2CV, a car built to be taxed as lightly as possible. Today the cheval fiscal is partly based, no surprise, on carbon dioxide emissions, but back in the postwar era, the formula involved, among other things, displacement, number of cylinders, maximum RPM of the engine, and vehicle weight. While the tax scheme promoted the development of small cars like the 2CV or Renault’s 4, it pretty much killed the French luxury car makers. The notion of taxing horsepower was popular in Europe but taxes on luxury and performance cars were particularly onerous in France.

Now right now, some of you are thinking, “Schreiber’s on a right wing anti-tax rant”, but don’t take my word for it. Almost every reference that I can find about French car makers in the postwar era mentions taxes, either as a reason for their success, as in the case of Citroen and their Deux Chevaux, or as a reason for their demise, as with the luxury brands. Looking at Wikipedia (yeah, I know, usual caveats apply), the entry for Talbot-Lago says that their cars, rated by the tax authorities at 15 CV, were taxed at “punitive” levels. When members of the Bugatti family tried to revive the company with the Type 101, its engine was rated at 17 CV, which put annual taxes at the “confiscatory” level. Starting with Sydney Allard’s Cadillac powered cars, a number of European automakers similarly installed American V8s in cars, but France’s Facel-Vega cars, which used Chrysler Hemis and Wedges, never used the biggest Mopar engines. The reason is usually attributed to French taxes. This broker’s listing for a 1949 Talbot-Lago T46 calls the French tax system “infuriating”. Whether you’re coming from the right or from the left, I think it’s fairly factual to say that high domestic taxes on luxury cars killed the French domestic luxury car industry.

The Italian government and tax authorities may think they’re doing their civic duty by cracking down on car enthusiasts who use untaxed income to buy exotic cars, without that crackdown hurting the export of expensive Italian automobiles, but they should consider the example of their neighbors in France. The present dearth of French luxury cars isn’t the only example Italians should heed. In 1990, in the United States, a Republican president and a Democratic Congress passed a special surtax on goods like yachts, private planes and very expensive cars. According to a PBS report in the mid 1990s, the 10% “luxury tax” imposed on yachts purchased in the U.S. almost destroyed American yacht makers. Rich folks didn’t stop buying expensive things, they just bought their boats in place like, ironically, Italy. As part of the general tax crackdown, by the way, Italy has also increased taxes on yachts.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Rarer Than The Veyron, At A Fraction Of The Cost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/rarer-than-the-veyron-and-a-fraction-of-the-cost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/rarer-than-the-veyron-and-a-fraction-of-the-cost/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2013 17:12:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472606 If you want a modern Bugatti that’s more exclusive than the Veyron, and cheaper too, here’s your chance. This 1994 Bugatti EB110 can be picked up for $415,000 – far less than the 7 figure pricetag a new Veyron commands – but with just 139 cars built, is destined to be a far rarer sight […]

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If you want a modern Bugatti that’s more exclusive than the Veyron, and cheaper too, here’s your chance.

This 1994 Bugatti EB110 can be picked up for $415,000 – far less than the 7 figure pricetag a new Veyron commands – but with just 139 cars built, is destined to be a far rarer sight than the bloated orcas that populate every rap video and Gulf State shopping mall.

The EB110 is no technical lightweight either. When it was introduced in 1991, it was the first example of a road-going vehicle with a carbon fiber tub. The body panels were aluminum, while the 3.5L V12 featured four turbochargers and revved to an incredible 9,000 RPM.

While the Bring-A-Trailer ad correctly asserts that keeping this car running will cost a fortune, what supercar isn’t a nightmare to run? No matter what the cost of spares and maintenance is for an EB110, it will undoubtedly be less than the absurdly expensive Veyron maintenance program, and the car has character in spades – unlike Herr Piech’s mostly-automated death machine.

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Tales From The Cooler: Buff Book Boy Beaten By Dealer, Booed By Bugatti http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/tales-from-the-cooler-buff-book-boy-beaten-by-dealer-booed-by-bugatti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/tales-from-the-cooler-buff-book-boy-beaten-by-dealer-booed-by-bugatti/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2012 16:24:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464489 I have not read Automobile magazine regularly since the late David E. Davis, Jr. departed the Ann Arbor rag a few years ago. I did grab a copy of their November issue while stuck in an airport last week and was treated to a pair of puzzling pieces from Contributing Writer Ezra Dyer. His monthly […]

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I have not read Automobile magazine regularly since the late David E. Davis, Jr. departed the Ann Arbor rag a few years ago. I did grab a copy of their November issue while stuck in an airport last week and was treated to a pair of puzzling pieces from Contributing Writer Ezra Dyer.

His monthly column was a first-person rant about a recent car buying experience, your basic Dealership Treated Me Badly story, of which you can find about 10,000 examples of on the Internet. What’s next? An expose on how drunk drivers kill innocent people? It must have been a slow news month at Automobile.

Dyer cried because the dealership’s “title guy” (“finance manager” to you and me) attempted to add a service plan and extended warranty to the deal. Ezra, you are in the car writing world and don’t know what happens when you buy a car? If nothing else you could have used your default position: tell the dealer who you are and promise them some free publicity if they cut you a deal and supply you with a seamless buying and financing process.

In an attempt to protect both his story and the flagging advertising sales of the magazine, Dyer did not disclose the brand, model or type of car he purchased. He did mention that the vehicle was located “two states away” and had a certified extended warranty, so it must have been a hard-to-find late model used car. I am wary when an auto writer does not want the audience to know what kind of vehicle he or she owns.

 

Next up, Ezra writes of his trip to Europe to drive flat out on a “secret” test track in a 1200 horsepower Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse worth $2.5 million and capable of hitting 255 mph. Now there’s a great story I am thinking, that is merely everyone’s fantasy.

Bugatti has seen enough Frank Bacons darken their door to know they need to control car writers’ driving behaviors while piloting their million dollar babies. I don’t know about you but I would follow Bugatti’s rules if given this amazing opportunity. If Bugatti ordered me to don Danica Patrick’s firesuit and then clay bar and Meguiar the car before we hit the track, I would happily comply. But not Dyer, he had to do it his way.

Dyer’s marching orders were very precise on approach speeds to the mile long straightaways, where to be on positioned on track and when to hit the go pedal, all monitored by his passenger, Bugatti test pilot Loris Bicocchi. Let’s let Dyer take it from here:

“…my brain skips a half a step ahead of the approved takeoff sequence…we’re closing in on 300 kph when I hear a strange noise. It almost sounds like a man yelling. In fact, it is a man yelling. In my peripheral vision, I see Bicocchi gesticulating frantically. I hit the brakes. Bicocchi is pissed. “I was yelling at you to slow down! You need to look at me!” he shouts. He looks angry but also petrified. “I had no control!” he seethes. In my defense, I was not ignoring him. I simply could not hear him…”

You can’t tell a Big Time Auto Journo like me how to drive! He did get his act together and hit 205 mph on the following straightaway. Dyer did not mention what happened after his run but I imagine Bugatti threw him out on his ezra.

Ezra Dyer is a funny and insightful writer and obviously not afraid to admit his screw-ups but I question his editorial judgment and behavior in these two instances. So memo to Automobile: Next time please send Editor-In-Chief Jean Jennings along on such missions. She would have negotiated an additional $1000 discount on the car and would have easily hit 225 mph in the Bugatti. You see, Ms. Jennings is an adult.

 

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Review: 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/review-2010-bugatti-veyron-16-4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/review-2010-bugatti-veyron-16-4/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 17:17:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=405346   I didn’t drive the Bugatti Veyron, but here you are reading my review. So how exactly did an automotive journalist with zero manufacturer connections, and no income (at the time) aside from menial paychecks as a drum instructor get the nerve to write a Veyron review? “SOLD…to the gentleman by the staircase!” bellowed the […]

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I didn’t drive the Bugatti Veyron, but here you are reading my review. So how exactly did an automotive journalist with zero manufacturer connections, and no income (at the time) aside from menial paychecks as a drum instructor get the nerve to write a Veyron review?

“SOLD…to the gentleman by the staircase!” bellowed the auctioneer, before everyone applauded the winner of the night’s ultimate charity prize: a trip to Bugatti central for a factory tour and a full day of seat time in the Veyron.  As I stood next my brother, who was still in shock from being that high bidder, I knew he’d once again give TTAC a taste of the high performance combined with the brilliantly decadent.  But, over a year later, the good Dr. Mehta is still busy beating cancer into remission.  And we’re running out of time before the Veyron slips into the history books.

Luckily, he was kind enough to being me along.

 

We embarked on the same Bugatti Experience as a potential customer: meals, drinks, snacks and facility tour complete with a PowerPoint presentation. The overview discussed the original Veyron design mule, pre-VW intervention.  Imagine the current Veyron except with flatter curves, a look more in tune with Bugattis of the past and less like a VW New Beetle on steroids.  Not that the Veyron is plump and derivative. But like a Rubenesque C5 Corvette, there are too many round elements fighting for your attention.

 

Whatever.  The interior doesn’t disappoint: suitably luxurious carpets, leather soft/aromatic enough for its price point and sheets of Alcantara giving the impression of sitting inside in a gigantic piece of tiramisu. The dashboard is a slice of heaven, framed by metal trim that doesn’t attract attention to itself, letting the center stack’s engine turned aluminum receive the praise it deserves. The air registers feel precise enough to come from a defense contractor’s machine shop.  The Burmester Audio system possesses the sound clarity, imaging quality and simplistic ergonomics of exquisite audio engineering: Herr Burmester even claims he was involved in the monocoque’s design from the early stages.

 

The Veyron’s other electronic distractions impress, mostly because of their limited real estate and flat learning curve. If a Rothko takes several minutes to make an indelible impression, the every interior subsystem in the Bugatti is crafted with the same thought.  But thoughts get rather simplistic when three large needles on the Veyron’s gauge cluster violently–yet effortlessly–swing to the right.  And this is where the good Dr. Mehta takes us home.

Sanjay writes:

The first time I buried the throttle after clipping the apex of a tight right hander leading to the back straight, as the quad snailed W16 howled and tried its best to fling me off into the horizon, reality started to sink in….life is pretty damn good.

 

After my tour of the Bugatti grounds, I met my French date: a solid black Veyron with a delicious caramel leather interior, showing 33,000 km on the clock. The staff informed me that this car had been driven, and driven hard.  But aside from a few rock chips and worn leather on the keyfob (that looked suspiciously like my last VW rental), this Veyron was virtually new.

Settling into the comfy, manually adjustable bucket, (custom sizes available, ‘natch) top-tier craftsmanship was evident everywhere. Retired F1 driver Pierre Henri Raphanel drove me off the Bugatti grounds to a twisty country road, while casually discussing the cars attributes. To illustrate, he came to a complete stop on a two-lane road with a gentle S bend about a hundred yards ahead. While continuing his speech, Pierre floored the throttle. The car lunged forward with the slightest wisp of wheelspin (times 4), hit second gear and negotiated the bend ahead with two fingers casually on the wheel at approximately 80 mph. The entire ordeal took less time and effort than it did for you to read this sentence.

My turn: with a fair bit of time in high powered machinery myself, the Veyron is most notable for its civility and near total lack of traction related issues. I tooled around small villages in the Alsace region, where people peered out of local wineries to get a glimpse of the black Bug at every turn. In this environment, the car felt much like any other stiffly sprung, ground clearance challenged exotic. Despite the 2+ tons of weight, the big Bug is more Lamborghini and less CL65 over city streets. Which is to say, it’s civilized enough, but the ride quality was no better than a magnetic ride equipped 3200 lb Vette.

Aiming at the autoroute, the car settles into a 200 km/h groove in 7th gear like a good German ‘bahn burner, with minimal wind noise or tramlining; however the presence of those huge wheels and Michelin PAX runflats, stiff bushings, and tight Eibachs prevents any AMG-ish pretense of true relaxed cruising. When holes opened up (or even when they didn’t), small throttle openings quickly lead to BIG speed even at low revs, thanks to 4 little lag-free turbos pushing 488 cubic inches. A 997 Turbo in high gear doesn’t stand a chance, but a stock (TVS blown) C6 ZR1 at 2000 rpm would probably have no trouble staying in the rearview mirror. Until the Veyron driver discovers sport mode, that is.

 

In sport mode, the tach (and adjacent Power Meter) stay resolutely towards the right, keeping the W16QT on full boil until you manually upshift. I easily saw 250+ km/h in between clumps of traffic with the same ease achieved in either my twin-turbo Ford GT or Gallardo…

…but this thing is bone stock. On pump gas. With a warranty to boot.

Oh, and it has another 150 km/h in reserve, you know, to dispatch said tuner cars if need be, though I didn’t have the heart to tell Pierre that the turbo Lambo (on race gas @25 psi of boost) would eat this thing alive in midrange acceleration. Not that it mattered anyway: piloting the Veyron is an experience.

 

We arrive at the track L’Anneau Du Rhin about 45 min after leaving the Molsheim factory. Pierre remains in the passenger seat, instructing me on a wet/dry slalom aimed at demonstrating the AWD and stability control systems. After a few laps, including standing starts and lane changes on wet pavement (with the stability turned off), it’s abundantly clear that the microprocessors can in fact keep all but the most hamfisted clods from getting into trouble.

 

The real fun began when Pierre coached me through 3 or 4 laps around the short course at progressively higher speeds, realizing I had some seat time on the track before. “Oui, you are good, I cannot earn my paycheck teaching you. Enjoy!” thereby giving me free reign to lap the track, though he reactivated the nannies. Frankly, that’s fine by me: I had no desire to test the limits of my insurance deductible, and the car has remarkably high yaw thresholds before intervening.



Yes, that means I throttle steered a freaking Veyron! It’s able to change direction like a modern era 300 lb NFL lineman, but its forte is still a straight line: even on the short straightaway, 200+ km/h is doable. Over and over, with the W16 sounding remarkably like a big block pushrod V8 from behind me. Unfortunately, a tight 1st gear right hander at the end of the straight eventually gets the best of even these 15.7″ ceramic discs, and the brake/tire over temp light momentarily forces a pit stop. 1001 hp and 4400+ lbs does not a good track car make.

During the pit stop, the low coolant light again rears its head, and our engineer reads the codes, quickly surmising a leak in the intercooler. He has the carbon fiber rear bodywork off in less than 10 minutes, topping off the intercooler tank with–what else–the same Evian we enjoyed in the pits.

Thirty minutes later, I’m back making hot laps. Now able to settle in a bit more, I notice the steering is extremely communicative, with virtually no discernible torque contamination. The dual clutch gearbox blips the bent sixteen seamlessly, though the gears are so closely spaced, the torque bandwidth so massive, that shifting is rarely necessary.

 

I remember thinking that I’ve been lapping this 7 figure car for an hour as hard as my C6 Z06, and the tire bill alone for this day was probably greater than what it cost me to put a cam, headers, and tune on my Z. One full set of rubber costs as much as the twin-turbo conversion on a Ford GT!

 

Finally a few laps with the F1 hot shoe behind the wheel on the long course at Du Rhin, and I am presented with a certificate in a matte aluminum frame commemorating this bucket list worthy experience. Did I mention life is good?

I still had another 45 min stint back to the factory, and I could feel the bond with this Veyron test mule beginning to grow. Momentarily stuck behind a French camion going under 120 km/h, I reflected on the morning’s presentation:

Over breakfast in the Bugatti library, the team gave an overview of the unlikely sequence of events leading to the production of the world’s most outrageous super car of the 21st century, it became clear how unlikely it was that the Veyron would truly see the light of day: over budget and not meeting its targeted performance parameters.  But CEO Ferdinand Piech’s baby somehow overcame all economic and engineering obstacles to become the highest performing production vehicle in existence.

 

His goal was clear: a formal statement of VW’s engineering prowess, able to blast through the atmosphere at 400 km/h and drive to the opera with equal aplomb.

I say Mission Accomplished. And I got to put 220 km on one of them.

 

But can any car, no matter how good, be worth one million dollars? Well, more like $1.5 million at current exchange rates. If I were a bajillionaire, there would be one of these parked next to “my” McLaren F1. For those of us with slightly shallower pockets, check out the high-end tuner cars with comparable or better power and similar AWD grip. The VAG themselves have a Lamborghini Aventador with 700 hp, pushrod actuated coilovers, and AWD for $400k.

Let’s be real though: in the Veyron’s league, price is irrelevant. There can only be one king, and I for one, bow before him. The Veyron, now officially out of production, cemented its place in history as the most fantastically capable road going conveyance ever built.

(The Mehtas offer their sincere thanks to John Hill of Bugatti North America, Mr. David Duthu and everyone at Houston’s Classy Chassis Concours d’ Elegance for making this happen.)


Not a fan of TTAC on Facebook?  For shame, because here are some answers to the questions YOU asked.

David B: if you park it at a “scratch and dent” store you got bigger problems than the paint job on your Veyron.  Mark Galutera: everyone knows it, so its pretty much like the Elvis or Michael Jackson of any motorway. Brendan M: buy the train to carry your Veyron to keep the miles down. Adam L: the new one for every day outside of Pebble Beach concourse de elegance. Eric R: no diapers needed. John T: Tough call, as Sajeev’s broke Caddy would turn just as many heads in less-privileged parts of Houston.

Keven F: aside from the keys and probably the headlight switch/signal stalk, I don’t remember much VAG family resemblance.  Shifter trim maybe, but much like the Ford GT, the badge engineering is good enough to keep you in rapture.  Craig G: Sorry, there’s no diesel or station wagon option, put away your checkbook.

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Bugatti 16.4 Supersport Ensures Another Decade Of “Veyron-Killer” Wannabes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/bugatti-16-4-supersport-ensures-another-decade-of-veyron-killer-wannabes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/bugatti-16-4-supersport-ensures-another-decade-of-veyron-killer-wannabes/#comments Mon, 05 Jul 2010 15:29:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360251 And you thought it was over. You thought that, with Top Gear’s “Car Of The Decade” trophy accompanying Ferdinand Piëch’s “Ego Of The Decade” award in the Volkswagen trophy case, Bugatti could move on and let tiny companies based in sheds and garages fight over who has the world’s fastest “production” car. But no. That’s […]

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And you thought it was over. You thought that, with Top Gear’s “Car Of The Decade” trophy accompanying Ferdinand Piëch’s “Ego Of The Decade” award in the Volkswagen trophy case, Bugatti could move on and let tiny companies based in sheds and garages fight over who has the world’s fastest “production” car. But no. That’s not how things work in Wolfsburg… er, Mollsheim.

Instead of going quietly into that good night, Bugatti just had to strap some go-faster orange paint and wheels (good for an extra 182-ish horsepower) to one of its last Veyrons, call it the “Supersport,” and set a new speed record (267.81 MPH, production cars limited to 257 MPH). And all so they can close the line building €1.65m-€1.85m Supersports to close out the Veyron’s production run (the truly tasteful should not overlook the €1.95m “World Record Edition”). Well, and to regain its rightful place from the upstarts at Shelby Super Cars.

Think of this as groundhog day: The Veyron has seen its shadow (cast across the history books, natch) and we’ll be blessed with ten more years of “Veyron Killers.” Somewhere in the back seat of a completely stock Volkswagen Phaeton, Dr Piëch is feeling what humans refer to as “joy.”

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Piech Wants More Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/piech-wants-more-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/piech-wants-more-power/#comments Thu, 20 May 2010 06:16:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356969 A few years ago, if I had told you that there would be a production car available with 1000 horses, you’d have probably said “Get lost, Cammy!” Well, in this age of electric cars, hybrids, clean diesels and climate change (it’s a crock of what, Mr Lutz?), what if I were to tell you that […]

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A few years ago, if I had told you that there would be a production car available with 1000 horses, you’d have probably said “Get lost, Cammy!” Well, in this age of electric cars, hybrids, clean diesels and climate change (it’s a crock of what, Mr Lutz?), what if I were to tell you that there is a production car with 1200 hp on the horizon? What would you say, then? Hold the straight-jacket …

The Austrian site Motorline (that’s Austrian?) reports that Volkswagen Chairman and everyone’s favorite megalomaniac, Ferdinand Piech, made an off-the-cuff remark during a lecture at the TU in Vienna, Austria. He said that back home, there is an all new car with 1200 hp. As a Polo with that power is unlikely, this will be the next evolution of the Bugatti Veyron, the one with 1001 hp (987 bhp). Koenigsegg tried to upstage the Veyron, such as with the flex fuel CCXR (1079 hp.) As we all know, Herr Piech doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone. Just ask Wendelin Wiedeking. When more details of the arms race become available, we’ll report them. And if Edward Niedermeyer is reading this, I’ll happily test drive this for TTAC. Piech said he had already driven the car and that he can vouch for its qualities as a daily driver. Honestly, he said that, according to Motorline. (Some Austrian required.)

(Possible insect in the ointment: Motorline says Bugatti would “increase power by 2 percent.” According to Motorline’s calculation, 2 percent added to 1000 horses equals 1,200. A case of Austrian math? But then, would a Piech mention piteous 20 ponies?)

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Chinese Won’t Let 40 Luxury Cars Go Back Home http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/chinese-won%e2%80%99t-let-40-luxury-cars-go-back-home/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/chinese-won%e2%80%99t-let-40-luxury-cars-go-back-home/#comments Sun, 02 May 2010 23:04:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=354999 As the Beijing motor show draws to an end on Monday, the cars on display will be rolled on car carriers and shipped back home. All except for 40 luxury cars with a combined value of $22m. They have been snapped-up at the show, they will remain in China, and their makers can save the […]

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As the Beijing motor show draws to an end on Monday, the cars on display will be rolled on car carriers and shipped back home. All except for 40 luxury cars with a combined value of $22m. They have been snapped-up at the show, they will remain in China, and their makers can save the money for the long trip home.

The most expensive car of the show, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, with a price tag of $5.6m was “snagged on the first day,” says China Daily. According to the paper, “the car is exceptionally rare, with only 300 available worldwide, and it sells for 2.65 million Euros in Europe.” That comes out to $3.5m MSRP in Europe. Mark-up, title and taxes in China must be considerable.

The car will actually go back to France first, where it will be “revamped” before it will be shipped back to the customer in China.

Maserati sold five of the six cars on display at the show. “Another 10 will be delivered in six to eight weeks, after the cars are customized to the customers’ requirements,” said Gao Mengxiong, Maserati China’s sales manager. Compared to the Veyron, they are a bargain. Each car sells for about $366,000. Maserati wrote sales of about $5.4m. That should have paid for the booth.

At Rolls-Royce, a representative said: “We are going to get big orders at this auto show, based on my former experiences.” One customer bought the Rolls-Royce Ghost on display. According to stories circulating in Beijing, the buyer was a 20 year old girl.

Except for three cars that were brought for display purposes only, Porsche sold all eight cars at the show within the first three days. The most expensive one sold for more than $290,000.

When the show closes, organizers expect a total of 800,000 visitors. On Saturday, the start of the three-day Labor Day holiday, 145,900 people mobbed the show. According to China Daily, “more than 2,100 car-makers from around the world”  demonstrated their technologies and products at the show. And here we were told that the world only has room for less than 10 auto makers.

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Quote Of The Day: Veyron’ From The Truth Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-veyron-from-the-truth-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-veyron-from-the-truth-edition/#comments Mon, 12 Apr 2010 22:37:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=352243 I know that they have to cut the car open to take the engine out. To make an engine in that configuration, you know, it doesn’t go around corners. When we did the race in Abu Dhabi, we beat it off the line so many times that the film crew was getting frustrated because the […]

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I know that they have to cut the car open to take the engine out. To make an engine in that configuration, you know, it doesn’t go around corners. When we did the race in Abu Dhabi, we beat it off the line so many times that the film crew was getting frustrated because the outcome was supposed to be for the Bugatti to win. So we had to do that whole thing about ten times before it managed to get off the line cleanly and catch us up. Because every time they dropped the clutch it bogged down and we were gone.

McLaren’s Ron Dennis lays into the Bugatti Veyron at the Middle East launch of his firm’s new MP4-12C [Arabian Business via Wired Autopia]. What Dennis leaves out is that the Bugatti has a (computerized, sequential-shift) automatic transmission, so it’s difficult to know what he means by “they dropped the clutch.” Besides, it sounds like the former Formula 1 boss is spewing bile, rather than objectively critiquing the Veyron… which there’s plenty of room for.

What makes us think Dennis is suffering from a case of early-harvest viticulture? How about this line:

The Bugatti Veyron is a complete piece of junk. I think it is. I believe I can look at a range of women and I can see beauty in most of them, but I can look at a Bugatti and I think it is pig ugly.The Veyron doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve been looking at it for years, and I don’t see one single thing that makes me feel good.

For the record, Ron Dennis looks like this. And at about $250k, his MP4-12C doesn’t even compete with the Veyron. Perhaps Arabian Business couldn’t print his quotes about the Ferrari 458…

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Bugatti Backs Down? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/bugatti-backs-down/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/bugatti-backs-down/#comments Sat, 27 Mar 2010 16:51:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=350500 With Maybach folding up its tent after an uninspired campaign to unseat Rolls Royce at the top of the luxury sedan heap, only Bentley and Bugatti remain as potential challengers to the Phantom (Geely doesn’t count). Bentley has always had a slight inferiority complex when comparisons to Rollers come up, and though the new Mulsanne […]

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With Maybach folding up its tent after an uninspired campaign to unseat Rolls Royce at the top of the luxury sedan heap, only Bentley and Bugatti remain as potential challengers to the Phantom (Geely doesn’t count). Bentley has always had a slight inferiority complex when comparisons to Rollers come up, and though the new Mulsanne offers an alternative to the Phantom, it won’t replace it as the undisputed champion of four-door luxury. No, it seems as though the Volkswagen Group is trying to bracket BMW’s Phantom, with the Mulsanne nipping at its heels, and the Bugatti Galibier concept indicating what on might purchase in order to put all the Phantom owners in their place. It might not be as purely luxurious as the Rolls, but the Bugatti name, the 800 HP and the Galibier’s dramatically opulent looks have the potential to yield an icon capable of unsettling the high-end, four-door order of things. But will it be built? According to Autocar‘s Bugatti sources:

It will be made one way or the other.. We’re the smallest VW Group member and there’s a recession on so we’ve not been a priority. But we can expect to announce something by the summer; it looks good, people like it and it wouldn’t be a great financial commitment in the context of the Group.

But evo Magazine’s Harry Metcalfe says it ain’t so. The Galibier, he says, is over, and with it Bugatti’s ambition to build the world’s most powerful and expensive four-door.

According to Metcalfe, who is known to have friends inside Bugatti (apparently owning 14 cars and an $11k annual insurance premium helps with this), the Galibier was well-received in in the US and Middle East, but potential European customers found it “rather too upright and unremarkable.” As a result, Metcalfe reports that Bugatti is ditching the four-door design for a coupe, which, he argues, would make a better Veyron replacement anyway.

The confusing part? Metcalfe writes in the April issue of evo

Bugatti has gone back to the drawing board and decided to create an exciting, all-black, coupe version of the Galibier, which is being given its world premiere at an invitation-only presentation on the eve of the Geneva show.

Sure enough, pictures of an all-black Bugatti were released at Geneva, but they’re of the four-door Galibier. Huh? With Autocar and evo telling different stories, it’s hard to know what’s actually happening at Bugatti. Perhaps they realized that a sporting Rolls alternative (in the Mulsanne) and a hyper-sporting Rolls-beater in the Galibier was a bridge too far. In either case, and at least for now, the Phantom seems safe in its place as the most status-bestowing four-door on the market.

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Distracted Drivers: Veyron Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/distracted-drivers-veyron-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/distracted-drivers-veyron-edition/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2009 01:19:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=335202 “Just because you have money doesn’t mean you’re smart” has a new poster boy. According to The AP : A man blamed a low-flying pelican and a dropped cell phone for his veering his million-dollar sports car off a road and into a salt marsh near Galveston. The accident happened about 3 p.m. Wednesday on […]

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“Just because you have money doesn’t mean you’re smart” has a new poster boy. According to The AP :

A man blamed a low-flying pelican and a dropped cell phone for his veering his million-dollar sports car off a road and into a salt marsh near Galveston. The accident happened about 3 p.m. Wednesday on the frontage road of Interstate 45 northbound in La Marque, about 35 miles southeast of Houston.

How many Bugatti drivers live in Lufkin?

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How Cool is That? No. Seriously. How Cool? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/09/how-cool-is-that-no-seriously-how-cool/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/09/how-cool-is-that-no-seriously-how-cool/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2009 20:26:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=329919 The post How Cool is That? No. Seriously. How Cool? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Going, Going, Gone. For Half http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/going-going-gone-for-half/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/going-going-gone-for-half/#comments Sun, 08 Feb 2009 04:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=243482 The  “barn find” of a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante, that was thought to fetch $8.7m, finally went under the hammer at Bonham’s in Paris. According to the BBC, “it eventually sold for 3,417,500 euros.” At today’s rate, that’s $4.4m . . . about half.  Even barn finds don’t keep their residual value as much […]

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The  “barn find” of a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante, that was thought to fetch $8.7m, finally went under the hammer at Bonham’s in Paris. According to the BBC, “it eventually sold for 3,417,500 euros.” At today’s rate, that’s $4.4m . . . about half.  Even barn finds don’t keep their residual value as much as they used to.

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High End Pre-Owned and Collector Car Market Teeters on the Brink of Collapse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/high-end-car-market-teeters-on-the-brin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/high-end-car-market-teeters-on-the-brin/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2009 20:23:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=235941 Following the Scottsdale auction season, dealers at the top end of the collector car market breathed a collective sigh of relief. As the the New York Times headline put it, the auction action proved that prices “Soften but Don’t Crash.” Maybe so, but there’s a hidden dynamic involved. “People tend to forget that the auction […]

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Following the Scottsdale auction season, dealers at the top end of the collector car market breathed a collective sigh of relief. As the the New York Times headline put it, the auction action proved that prices “Soften but Don’t Crash.” Maybe so, but there’s a hidden dynamic involved. “People tend to forget that the auction houses work just as hard at reducing the sellers’ price as they do on getting the buyers to pay it,” says Mike Nicholl, proprietor of Las Vegas’ Classic and Collectible Cars. In other words, the results simply reaffirm that car sellers’ willingness to take a hit currently matches buyers’ bargain-hunting budgets. The General Manager of Lamborghini Bergen County (NJ) agrees. He says pre-owned inventory levels are up, but the deals are still going down. “More people are hurting, looking to get out of their cars,” Alan Greenfield says. “But the lower prices are attracting new buyers.” Despite the market’s recent diet of anti-gravity pills, or at least away from the people dispensing same, there are signs that the high end market is headed for collapse.

F430-1 F430 2 (all photos courtesy premier-motorcars.com) F430 3 F 430 4 F430 5 F430 6 F430 7 F430 8 F430 9 F430 10

For one thing, Chase has cut bait. The bank was a major player in the luxury car business, financing purchases across the entire range of exotica. Now, nothing. Manufacturers’ finance companies (e.g., Bentley Finance) have jumped into the breach (dear Horatio), but the bank didn’t leave the market because it wanted to.

“Business is way off,” reveals Beverly Hill Rent-A-Car‘s Marketing Manager Kurt Seijkowski. The California car company will rent you a Bugatti Veyron at $25k per day (plus plus plus) or a Lamborghini Gallardo at $2500 per day (50 free miles). Seijkowski reckons rentals are off by at least 30 percent.

More startling: his inventory acquisition cost. “Last year, I had to pay $225 to $230k for a low mileage Gallardo. I can pick up the exact same car for $165k.”

Last year, Chris Kelly of Premier Motor Cars of Sioux Falls (SD) sold a customer a 400-mile Ferrari F430 Spider for $325k. By August, the price was down $289k. It’s now on sale for $239k. Kelly will take $235k.

As always, there’s a feedback loop in play. High end buyers expect the market to collapse. So they wait. By waiting, they put pressure on the prices to collapse. Dealers– surprise– are exploiting this herd mentality for their own benefit.

“Ferrari dealers want owners to believe the market has gone soft,” Kelly says. “They’re telling Spider owners that their cars are only worth $150k. But you try and find one for under $200k.” 

At some point, whether collector car or top end whip, pre-owned high end car prices will stabilize. But we’re not there yet. Not by a long chalk. Prices may be sinking quickly or slowly, but down they go. Anyone who says otherwise would be happy to buy your car for a fire sale price or sell you a car for… whatever they can get.

As for the price of brand new top end metal, well, that’s another story. One we’ll tell tomorrow.

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