I Owned A Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse For A Day
"Have you ever driven a Bugatti before?" the driving instructor asked me.
"Shockingly, no, I haven't," I said, layered thick with the sarcasm needed when someone asks to see your driving resume while handing you the keys to a car whose insurance value is currently north of $2.5 million.
"Oh, it's good fun. You're in for a treat," he replied through a toothy grin.
And just like that, we were off.
This automotive fever dream was in full swing at The Quail Lodge during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August, essentially an annual arms race for the rich and famous that I had the fortune of attending as the guest of Parmigiani Fleurier watches, principle collaborators on absurdly high-end timepieces with none other than Bugatti.
I did my best to dress the part of a Bugatti owner, but compared to my dear friend Anish Bhatt, of Watch-Anish.com fame, I was objectively on the tame side. On his wrist was the $430,000 Bugatti 'Mythe' driving watch. That figure is not a typo.
A ludicrous timepiece, worn by a ludicrous man.
Back to the car. It's a fascinating beast. The interior is as sparse as can be—the radio is contained in a single knob; the shifter is basic and prefers to be left in automatic mode (for reasons I'll get to shortly); everything else is covered in carbon fiber. I'd even go so far as to say that it feels a bit dated, considering the tech-heavy interiors we're starting to see pour out of the Volkswagen Group (Bugatti is a joint initiative that shares a CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, with Bentley, both owned by Volkswagen), but it turns out that none of this matters.
Because you are literally sitting on top of a 16.4 litre, 16 cylinder, 1,200 hp rocket ship.
It's tough to put into writing the sheer amount of power you have at your fingertips. The figure that stuck in my mind before keying in the ignition was that each cylinder has 75 hp. Most motorcycles don't carry 75 and not many cars have more than 150 hp; this car has six times that, attached to one of the most technologically advanced gearboxes ever made.
This engine is the reason you don't give a flying f*ck about the quality of the stereo or the interior trimming, or your ex girlfriend, or that letter from the IRS that's been resting on your desk for three months.
The sound it creates once you peg your foot to the floor is pure, uncut ecstasy.
Say the words "Two-point-four seconds zero to 60" out loud right now. It should take you roughly 2.4 seconds, which is how quickly 60 mph hits you in the Grand Sport Vitesse. I don't remember these 2.4 seconds very clearly, but the instructor informed me that I had an impressive curse-word vocabulary for such a young man.
"The car is electronically limited to 258 mph, at which point it becomes a bit of a gamble as to what you'll run out of first, rubber or petrol," he explained.
I peaked the day at around 150 mph on public roads, but there's no question she was capable of twice that.
[Editor's Note: These next few photographs are of the other Veyrons kicking around Pebble Beach; apologies for any continuity confusion.]
Insanely though, it's not the power that steals the show, it's the way you're able to manipulate that power into a sublime driving experience. The squat, wide profile and hilariously wide tires make you a master of cornering. Try going around a hairpin in your mom's station wagon and you'll be on the brink of tipping over. Take a gnarly right-hander at 120 mph in a Veyron, and, to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, "This baby corners like it's on rails!"
While blowing you away, it actually makes you a better driver.
The downside to God-like power paired with paranormal handling? Each time you blow through a set of tires, you're out $30,000. And every 10,000 miles you're required to replace all four wheels entirely. To the tune of $50k. So yeah.
Now that we're firmly in the "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" territory, it's important to reiterate that nothing aside from a fighter jet will give you the same aural pleasure as these 16 cylinders. It's like 300 years of Irish Tenors crammed into one box that you have the ability to open up with the push of a pedal whenever you please.
Long story short: I highly recommend that you try waking up in a new Bugatti.