Four hundred and ninety kilometres per hour, or 304 miles per hour in imperial currency. Airplanes fly at that speed. Covering the length of a soccer field takes less than one second. It’s over four times our national speed limit; the ticket would bankrupt a small nation, but imagine the look on the police officer’s face. Was it a rocket? Thunder? A hallucination? No. It was a Bugatti Chiron, the first supercar to officially break the 300 mph barrier.
On August 2nd at the Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany, Andy Wallace — former Le Mans winner and now officially the patron saint of speed — drove a slightly modified Chiron to an officially certified maximum velocity of 490.48 km/h.
The car wore modified aerodynamic bodywork and was slammed to the ground with laser-controlled ride height. Michelin made a special set of metal-reinforced tires, and Bugatti tuned the 8.0-litre quad-turbo 16-cylinder engine up to 1,578 horsepower in order to break through to the other side of 300 mph.
Bugatti announced a production version of the car — the Chiron Super Sport 300+ — limited to an edition of 30, with safety modifications like a standard ride height and a speed limiter. Oh, and a $3.9 million USD price tag. The pursuit of speed is like the pursuit of life; it is human nature to try to cheat death.
Here’s how the Chiron’s record compares to other speedy things: