Monday, October 31, 2005

Concerning $1,250,000 Cars

I read an article last night in Car and Driver magazine about a dozen or so four cylinder "tuner cars". It was a comparison in two classes. In one class, the front wheel drive class, we had a Focus, several Civics (of course), a Mini and a Neon- excuse me, SRT-4. All were fast by most standards, but FWD is not the class to be in, if you really are serious about putting power to the pavement. The other class, rear wheel drive and all wheel drive was the quick bunch as you would expect, with a couple of cars reaching 60MPH in under 5 seconds. This class consisted of Evos (Mitsubishi Lancers), Elises (Lotus that is), an Sti (Subaru Impreza), a Miata, an Audi and Toyota pickup (yes, you read that right.) most of these were purpose-built speed machines from the factory, but tweaked and boosted to within an inch of their lives. The price of a car similar to most of these would be somewhere over $50k, with some reaching nearly $100,000. Too rich for me, but fun to read about.

After reading that article, however, I flipped to the cover story. It was a test drive of the new Bugatti Veyron. Practically every one of this car's statistics is a superlative. Highest top speed of any production car (253MPH), most expensive production car ever ($1,250,000), highest horsepower of any production car (claimed 1001, but this figure is also claimed to be a bit conservative), 16 cylinders, 8 liters of displacement, all wheel drive, 4 turbos. No expense was spared.

It was easy to come to the conclusion that if I somehow came into a huge amount of money and could drive anything I would want one of these. Imagine driving around in such a capable car. Then I started looking at the numbers. 0-60 blows past in 2.9 seconds. Imagine merging on to the highway. From a dead stop (not that you ever would from a dead stop) to merging on to going so fast that the windstar in the left lane looks like it has suddenly shifted into reverse and floored it would take about 5-6 seconds if you decided that you wanted to really open it up. You might even get to shift before backing off the gas if traffic was light.

Now, imagine driving around town. I can only imagine what it must be like. You'd most likely pick 2nd or 3rd gear and ease off the brake (I think I recall that it has no clutch pedal) the enormous amount of torque that the 8 liter, 16 cylinder engine would have even off-boost should get you going along with traffic. That pedal on the right (I've forgotten its name now) won't be required.

Aside from at the track, I can't imagine such a fast car being anything other than an exercise in self control. I can't imagine that being much fun. That's not the sour grapes talking, either. I think I'll just keep on daydreaming about Lotus Elises- the plain non-tuned ones.


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