Bugatti's Speed Record Just Might Spark Interest in Its Seven-figure Supercars

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

When you’re selling a car that starts at just a tick under $3 million, one that’s already regarded as the most powerful and expensive sports car in the world, does more speed really add to the package? Without a supply of rarified air to tap into, this author can only assume that bragging rights grow more important the more a person makes. Why else do wildly affluent people scale Everest only to die on its frigid, oxygen-free slopes?

For Bugatti, maker of the 1,500-horsepower, 16-cylinder Chiron, a speed record crushed under the wheels of a “near production” prototype last month serves only to add additional — and perhaps unnecessary — glitz to the ultimate of halo cars.

With Bugatti test driver and former Le Mans champ Andy Wallace at the wheel, the automaker took a slipperier, pre-production variant of the Chiron to 304.77 mph on a track in Lower Saxony on August 2nd. The automaker hailed the achievement as the first time a near-production vehicle has surpassed the 300 mph barrier.

That speed, it should be noted, is just 7 mph less than the cruising speed of a 1950s Douglas DC-6 airliner, or 451 feet per second. Having added this feat to its CV, Bugatti claimed it will now “withdraw from the competition to produce the fastest serial production cars.”

“Our goal was to be the first manufacturer ever to reach the magic 300-mile-per-hour mark. We have now achieved this – making ourselves, the entire team and myself, incredibly proud,” said Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti, in a statement. “We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we will focus on other areas.”

While Bugatti’s feat is noteworthy, the 300 mph threshold was first broken by a wheel-driven car in the long-ago year of 1935, after Sir Malcolm Campbell piloted his Blue Bird to 301 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. That custom-made car used a 36.7-liter supercharged Rolls-Royce aero engine for motivation.

Bugatti didn’t detail the upcoming hypercar, though it did reveal the modifications made to the Chiron variant, including added aero to keep the thing planted, a safety cell for the driver, and reinforced (but still street-legal) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-speed tires. The automaker governs the current Chiron to a measly 261 mph. Wallace claims he brought the car up by 50 km/h increments after reaching the 300 km/h (186 mph) mark.

Overall, Bugatti’s record means even less to the average consumer than hearing that a slightly more attainable production vehicle just set a lap time record for its segment at the Nürburgring. Even if you somehow managed to gather together the coinage needed to purchase a Chiron, attaining the vehicle’s top speed free of worry about a lifetime driving ban and possible death could only be accomplished after extra spending and a special trip to an accommodating stretch of asphalt. Of course, Bugatti has no interest in entertaining normal car buyers.

If you’re an oil-soaked prince’s playboy son, this may be news you can use.

[Images: Bugatti]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Sep 04, 2019

    To take a swipe at the common saying: "Size matters", I would say: "Speed matters". At least to people who have the money to spend.

  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on Sep 04, 2019

    Saw what I think was a Chrion yesterday in my grocery run. Not the first one I've seen, but every time you see one you want to break off your route and chase it down. I am quite cool with their marketing, they have some groundbreaking cars, and if I had the extra bling I'd be signing up in a minute, or maybe I'd just buy 5 new Corvettes for the kids and grandkids. I hardly call these cars "porkers"

  • ToolGuy "Nothing is greater than the original. Same goes for original Ford Parts. They’re the parts we built to build your Ford. Anything else is imitation."
  • Slavuta I don't know how they calc this. My newest cars are 2017 and 2019, 40 and 45K. Both needed tires at 30K+, OEM tires are now don't last too long. This is $1000 in average (may be less). Brakes DYI, filters, oil, wipers. I would say, under $1500 under 45K miles. But with the new tires that will last 60K, new brakes, this sum could be less in the next 40K miles.
  • BeauCharles I had a 2010 Sportback GTS for 10 years. Most reliable car I ever own. Never once needed to use that super long warranty - nothing ever went wrong. Regular maintenance and tires was all I did. It's styling was great too. Even after all those years it looked better than many current models. Biggest gripe I had was the interior. Cheap (but durable) materials and no sound insulation to speak of. If Mitsubishi had addressed those items I'm sure it would have sold better.
  • Marty S I learned to drive on a Crosley. Also, I had a brand new 75 Buick Riviera and the doors were huge. Bent the inside edge of the hood when opening it while the passenger door was open. Pretty poor assembly quality.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Alan, I was an Apache pilot and after my second back surgery I was medically boarded off of flying status due to vibrations, climbing on and off aircraft, so I was given the choice of getting out or re-branching so I switched to Military Intel. Yes your right if you can’t perform your out doesn’t matter if your at 17 years. Dad always said your just a number, he was a retired command master chief 25 years.