Road King: Bugatti Veyron 16.4

1,001 horsepower. “Who needs 1,001 horsepower?” If you’re asking yourself that question, feel free to move along, as this article probably isn’t for you.

Introduced in 2005, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is one of the newest and the most potent supercars ever to hit the streets. Bugatti is made in Molsheim, France, the location of the original Bugatti factory. A fourteen-year member of the Volkswagen family (if that surprises you, please meet Bugatti’s corporate cousin, Lamborghini, also part of VW since 1998), but draws heavily on the technical expertise of another Volkswagen sibling, Audi, and its German-based engineers.

Driving this chariot on the street is a thrill and a challenge. The thrill is obvious. The challenge comes from driving a land-based rocket ship that’s very low (48”) and very wide (79”, or barely two inches narrower than a Hummer H-2) and very close to the ground (less than five inches in normal mode, lowered to just over three inches for warp speed) while avoiding car buffs hanging out of neighboring vehicles trying to snap a picture-phone photo to show their friends. The Veyron-Meets-LA Story reminds us of an important calculation – as Sir Isaac Newton warned us, V+E=T (the Velocity of the car multiplied by the Ecstasy experienced by the driver equals the Trunk of the car in front of you, which would be a very expensive math lesson).

Surprisingly, the Veyron does not impose a punishing performance. Thanks to a DMG twin-clutch gearbox, which has seven forward speeds to chose among, the driver could opt for the ubiquitous paddle shifters or go for the full-auto treatment. And those shift times! Incredibly, the computer can grab gears in under 150 milliseconds, which gives an acceleration that’s as seamless as it is unrelenting.

Speaking of performance, you certainly wouldn’t want the valet to go airborne (“Bueller?  Bueller?”) and the Bugatti folks have thought of that, too. Unless you turn the special key in the special lock located in a special place (I am sworn to secrecy), the suspension won’t lower and the car can’t go over 200 mph. Now, don’t you feel better handing over the keys?