I will never forget the sound of the jet engines.
They are sitting right behind you, and they propel you forward in a way that feels faster than sound or air or light.
It’s a 1,200-horsepower behemoth made of carbon fiber.
There is so much fuel being incinerated into the engine at such a high rate that the city rating is 7 MPG.
Yes, I’m talking about a 2011 Bugatti Veyron. I’ve tested around 700 cars in 10 years and this was my favorite by far.
The automaker allowed me to test the car around Miami for an entire afternoon when the car was still freshly minted.
In one memorable moment, starting at a stoplight and punching it up to highway speeds, I felt the hair on my arm fold back.
The only thing I remember is that it felt like an arrow cutting through thin air in a way that was not supposed to be at ground level.
I’m reading a book right now about the science of walking and there’s a whole section on the experience of moving forward and being able to see the world disappearing on both sides of your peripheral vision. In a Veyron, that doesn’t happen. Your eyes can’t keep up.
On that on-ramp, I couldn’t see anything to the sides.
All I could see was the world coming at me, faster and faster.
Fortunately, the engineer sitting next to me — who had a big smile on his face — was all too pleased with the results. We obeyed posted limits, but the fast rate of acceleration doesn’t just push you back in your seat.
It feels like you are driving an airplane. He knew that. I’m guessing he has a fun job. When you build something that can create an otherworldly experience like this, you get a lot of high fives.
Here’s another fun fact about the Veyron. Not only do they build only about 100 of them but they don’t bother to redesign this car that often. Why bother? It would be like rebuilding the Mona Lisa.
Other cars — ones that cost about $2.5 million less — need to make yearly updates to keep people interested, to spark enthusiasm. The Veyron sells itself, if you have the cash.
For me, a few other things stick out. I took the Veyron to a beach in Miami and cruised around at low speeds. I’ll never forget the looks. People love this car. It’s remarkable in the sense that, I’m guessing, no one had ever seen such an expensive and unusual car before, even in Miami.
It’s also comfortable. The seats felt like they were meant for long days at the track. I remember feeling like I had room to stretch, unlike a vehicle like the Alfa Romeo 4C which requires that you fold yourself into a pretzel to drive one. (Yes I might be the first journalist to ever compare a 4C to a Veyron.)
If you pay $2.5 million for a supercar, you should be able to sit comfortably. I can imagine a billionaire not wanting to scrunch into the Veyron for every ride.
One last thing: It made me anxious.
I enjoyed the thrill, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t imagine actually owning one unless I also owned my own track or a small town.
It was the one and only time I’ll ever drive a Veyron, and maybe that’s enough.