The car no one needs

Nobody needs a car like this. But its fun to dream a little—not about the car, but about being so free of financial cares as to be able to be relaxed about the absurdity of buying one.


As Richard Feast asks in the New York Times (27 Dec.):

What … will the skeptics make of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, the fastest, most powerful and – no surprise – most expensive production car in the world? … Not to worry; the Veyron’s credentials speak for themselves.

Still, nothing prepares the newcomer for the reality behind the bald performance statistics. The Veyron is blisteringly, and effortlessly, fast. …

The car’s two-tone paint, horseshoe-shape grille and center dashboard panel of engine-turned aluminum reach back to Bugatti’s design heritage. The interior is exquisite; details like vents and door pulls are made of machined and polished aluminum.

Overall, the car represents an extraordinary blend of opulence and power. As luxurious as a Maybach, the Veyron provides a level of comfort far beyond that of exotic quasi racers like the Ferrari Enzo and Porsche Carrera GT, neither of which can match its acceleration, top speed or braking.

Thomas Bscher, president of Bugatti Automobiles, is just as proud of the car’s refined manners. “This car can be driven by anyone,” he said, a statement clearly begging to be substantiated. …

Venturing onto the highways here, near Bugatti’s headquarters in the Alsace region of France, the car’s rarity and value generate considerable apprehension. Embarrassment, injury, a big repair bill or worse await a driver who does not show proper respect.

… Everything about the Veyron is shaped by superlatives, but even Bscher acknowledges, “Nobody needs a car like this.” Indeed, who could argue that it isn’t a frivolous liability? On what roads can it be tested …? How relaxed would an owner be about leaving a Veyron in a parking structure for a couple of hours? How anxious would he be handing the ignition key to a young parking valet?

  • Dimension 176 inches long and almost 79 inches wide (compact)
  • Engine: 8-litre, 16-cylinder
  • Power: 1,001 horsepower and 922 pound-feet of torque
  • Transmission: all wheel drive through a 7 speed automated manual gearbox
  • Mass: 4,162 pounds (almost two tonnes!)
  • Acceleration: 0 to 125 mph – 7.3 seconds; 0 to 250 – 55.6 seconds
  • Top speed: electronically limited to 253 mph for tyre safety
  • Consumption: estimated 9 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway. At full throttle, would empty the 26 gal. tank in about 12 minutes
  • Equipment: 10 radiators, a horsepower gauge and a titanium exhaust system, an audio system worth $US30,000
  • Price: $US1.4 million; £800,000
  • Production: annual sales of 50 worldwide
  • Profitability: nil; losses are expected