and their cars
Bugatti (Volkswagen) Veyron
The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 may well be the most impractical car ever built. Is it an ego trip pure and simple; that of Volkswagen who built it, and the extremely rich people who bought it, but probably never drive it?
Yes it has a top speed of 214 mph. It has been calculated that at that speed it would run out of fuel within 12 minutes. It could do nought to 60 in 2.5 seconds but that would leave most drivers, let alone their passengers, gasping for breath. Everyone of them cost around £1 million to buy and yet they are reputed to cost something like £5 million each to build. At maximum speed the car sits less than 3 inches from the ground; anything less than a perfectly flat surface could well destroy it and kill the occupants. Was Volkswagen intending to make money out of this? Or was it just an exercise to see what they could do if there was an unlimited amount of money to spend?
Volkswagen bought the apparently dead trade name of Bugatti back in 1998 after another company that held it went bankrupt building - yes - another 'best supercar in the world'. The EB 16.4 part of the name refers to Ettore Bugatti, the founder of the original company which built so many wonderful and innovative cars between the turn-of-the-century and World War II, and the fact that the car has 16 cylinders and four turbochargers. Veyron was a racing driver who won the last 24 hours of Le Mans race that the old Bugatti company entered.
I wonder how many people know this though? Before World War II just about every person who would ever dream of owning a motorcar had heard of Bugatti and their reputation for producing fast and perfectly engineered cars, but how many people under the age of 30 are aware of that? So is the name Bugatti really as prestigious as it used to be?
Yes the Super Sport, producing 1,184 bhp is the fastest production car in the world but they are so intricate that maintenance would cost a fortune, fuel consumption figures have varied between three and 8 miles to a gallon, and what would insurance cost? You would need to own your own insurance company to be able to cover this car.
Despite all that would I want one? You bet but I would keep it securely locked up in a secret location and run the engine for a few seconds once a week to keep the oil circulating. Drive it in the rain, over UK potholed roads? No way. This is an expensive toy, not a realistic means of transport. Plus I couldn't afford the squad of ex-SAS types I'd need to protect it from thieves joyriders and key merchants.
Ettore Bugatti's cars were real ones that gave the pleasure of the open road to their lucky owners; the Veyron is a liability that needs to be protected and cosseted. With only around 450 of them sold they may rise in value in the future - but I'd much rather have a Tipo 13 in the garage, thanks. At least I could take that out for a spin.