A Bugatti Journey

For the final leg of my Bugatti journey, I flew to Seville, Spain, to meet with the engineers and the drivers-men who were involved in the Veyron project from day one. And in short order, I realized how wrong I was -- how every one of the Veyron's flaws was so insignificant. Here's why.

Fortifying a Veyron by an additional 20 percent took two and a half years of development time. That's half as long as the engineers needed to develop the car in the first place. The Veyron was already squeezed so hard against the upper limits of physics that adding any more power required not only a rethink of many of the car's systems, but also the additional half-decade in improvements at the cutting edge of materials engineering.

In simpler terms: the Veyron's air-conditioning system blew up when bolted to the 1200-hp engine. It, like every other part of the Veyron, was already at the limit -- and in this case, since the engine itself revs more quickly under acceleration as a result of the additional power, the A/C system couldn't bleed off pressure quickly enough. It's the same with every subsystem in the Super Sport -- that's how close the Veyron was to exploding into a mushroom cloud of carbon fiber and titanium dust.

Want to criticize the Veyron for being too heavy? In fact, it could not possibly weigh any less and still provide the performance and luxury it does: virtually every single part has been optimized to the breaking point. The same holds true for the Super Sport: thanks to the progression of carbon-fiber modeling, Bugatti was able to strip 77 pounds from the carbon-fiber tub, which now weighs only 297 pounds. The rest of the car tries not to crumble under 1400 pounds of engine and transmission.

As for that massive thrust: at full boost in first gear, the Super Sport's rear tires are subjected to some 5000 lb-ft of torque. Twelve hundred horsepower is an absurd, meaningless number until you think of it this way: run for 63 minutes under full load, the Super Sport's sixteen-cylinder engine has produced enough power to run an average household for a month -- and almost enough waste heat to keep it warm, too.

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