2014 Bugatti Veyron
When Volkswagen AG acquired the rights to the Bugatti name in 1998, there was a huge impetus to immediately capitalize on the legacy of one of the world’s most celebrated marques. As the automotive community held its breath, no fewer than four concept cars – all designed by Bugatti’s Giorgetto Giugiaro – were released within two years.
The EB Veyron, a mid-engined, two-door, all-wheel-drive supercar, was named for Ettore Bugatti and Pierre Veyron, Bugatti’s development engineer and winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1939. The Veyron was introduced at shows in Geneva, Detroit, and Paris, equipped with a W-16 engine and four turbochargers, requiring 10 radiators for cooling. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox facilitated shifting that was measured in milliseconds; the unit itself cost $172,000. The Veyron was capable of a top speed of 253 mph, could hit 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and produced an amazing 1,001 hp.
The automotive press proclaimed the Veyron the world’s fastest road car, with awarding it the coveted Best Car Driven All Year award in 2005, when it finally went into production in Molsheim, France.
By 2008, the Veyron was relaunched as the Grand Sport, an open version of the original coupe. In 2010, Bugatti released the Veyron Super Sport, a coupe with increased horsepower, more torque, and improved aerodynamics. Although the top speed was raised to 268 mph, it was electronically restricted to 255 mph to prevent tire blowout.
Finally, doubling down on its success with the Super Sport, Bugatti went to work on the ultimate and final model in the lauded line of Veyrons.
Enter the Vitesse.
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse is a convertible supercar par excellence – the fusion of the open-car architecture of the Grand Sport and the superlative performance of the Super Sport. First presented at the Geneva Auto Show in 2012, the Vitesse was capable of 1,200 hp, delivered 1,106 lbs./ft. of torque, and could hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds from a standstill. Simply put, this earthbound missile could be as appropriate on a runway as it is on a freeway.
Although based upon the Super Sport, the aptly named Vitesse (French for speed) features several important adjustments, largely associated with the aerodynamics of a super-fast convertible. When the top is removed, airflow is drastically altered to compensate the rear spoiler, which detects if the top is on or off and automatically adjusts to ensure sufficient downforce. Meanwhile, a bank of onboard computers monitors road conditions and relays data to the self-adjusting suspension for a smooth ride.
Whether topping out at 255 mph with the top on, or 233 mph with the top off, the Vitesse was the most powerful production roadster of 2014. Belying its brute force, it is graced with excellent road manners and is comfortable navigating city traffic or rocketing down the .
The cockpit is sumptuously appointed with carbon fiber doors, magnesiumtrimmed dash and soft quilted leather over carbon fiber seats. The touch of a shift paddle propels the car to 65 mph in first gear, 92 mph in second, and 122 mph in third, enabling the driver to burn up any ambitious competition at the lights with four gears to spare – and to do it with the aplomb of a true aristocrat.
Statistics and gear ratios aside, one of the most satisfying features of the Vitesse is its voice. With the top removed and the engine’s turbochargers just inches from the cabin, the soundtrack borders on ethereal. The Vitesse doesn’t whine or scream when it’s called into play, it roars with intensity and promise.
This magnificent example of the Vitesse is dressed appropriately in Bugatti Blue with chrome flanks, and it bears the signature of Meo Costantini, a friend of Ettore Bugatti and head of the factory team. Used sparingly – the odometer displayed less than 400 miles at the time of cataloguing – this supercar has been stored in a climate-controlled facility by its sole owner since new. This Vitesse represents a superb blend of the avant-garde performance of the Super Sport with the open-air charisma of the Grand Sport – of the Bugatti marque and the culmination of the revered Veyron line.