September 3, 2019

Breaking 300 in the Bugatti Chiron

When the Bugatti Chiron first debuted, I noticed that its speedometer went to 500 kilometers per hour—a bit over 300 miles per hour. Surely they were joking, right?

We all remember when the predecessor of the car above was unveiled. Car gurus around the world will forever have the stats embossed into their brains: 987 horsepower, 8-liter engine displacement, quad-supercharged W16, 16 radiators; it runs out of fuel in 12 minutes when at its top speed of 253 miles per hour. It was the fastest-moving piece of art in the world—with a Moby Dick-sized rear wing designed to increase rear downforce to 983 Newtons, just to keep the thing from lifting off the ground like a fighter jet. So when the Chiron was released, Bugatti could only go up, but how do you improve upon a car that seemingly broke all the world records in the automotive industry, and physics along with it? When the Bugatti Chiron debuted, once I had gotten a thorough look at the exterior, my first specific observation was that the speedometer went all the way up to 500 kilometers per hour—just over 300 miles per hour. The rational part of my mind wanted to laugh at the absurdity of this speedometer. Certainly it was a gimmick, right? It would not actually go 300 miles per hour. Then again, maybe it would. After some research, it was clear to me that experts saw no reason that it would get close to that speed, or any such car for that matter. However, Top Gear revealed today that British race car driver Andy Wallace hit a vmax of 304.77 miles per hour in a modified Chiron at the Ehra-Lessien, Germany, becoming the first supercar (or hypercar) to break 300mph.

Every time I repeat this reality in my head, I cannot help but smile. I will treasure the memory of the Bugatti Chiron for the rest of my days, just as those who lived through the 1990s will forever carry an unfailing fondness of the McLaren F1. For people like me, this is a historic feat, the stuff of dreams, so as I always say with cars, dream on.