Don’t try this at home. That is, unless your home is Volkswagen’s high speed test track in Ehra-Lessien, Germany.
That’s where a Bugatti Chiron secretly claimed the record for world’s fastest, street-legal production car last month with a 304.77 mph run, making the VW-owned brand the first to break the 300 mph barrier.
The car was a pre-production prototype for a future variant of the $3 million, 1,500 horsepower supercar, which is currently delivered with a limiter that restricts its top speed to a mere 261 mph.
A large reason for that is due to tires. It’s incredibly difficult to make ones that can handle the rotational velocities seen at speeds higher than that, and the Chirons already cost over $30,000 per set and need to be replaced every 2,500 miles.
So Bugatti asked Michelin to create a special tire that could hold up to the kind of G-force generated above 300 mph. The construction required for the task was so precise that each was X-rayed before it was installed.
The car was also modified from the standard Chiron with a body stretched 10 inches for improved aerodynamics, a lowered ride height, vents drilled into the fenders and other tweaks to help reduce lift to zero. Its quad-turbocharged 16-cylinder engine was also tuned to produce an extra 78 hp for good measure.
Racing and test driver Andy Wallace – who set a then-record of 243 mph in a McLaren F1 in 1993 – spent several days at the 12-mile circuit as the team built up to the 300 mph mark on its 5.4-mile-long straight, knowing that if anything went wrong at that speed it would’ve gone very wrong.
It didn’t, and Wallace hit the magic number on August 2. He likely won’t be doing it again. Bugatti President Stephan Winklemann said Bugatti is officially done chasing top speed records, even as companies like Koenigsegg, Hennessey and SSC are aiming to break 300 mph.
However, the feat didn’t meet the Guinness standards for a record, which require a true production car available for sale and the average of two runs in opposite directions. It’s currently held by Koenigsegg at 278 mph. According to Top Gear, the broken-in track is only smooth enough one way for a car to hit 300 mph with any modicum of safety, but Winklemann isn’t sweating it.
“We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we will focus on other areas,” he said, essentially dropping the mic.
One of those areas may be another unofficial record the company holds. Earlier this year it sold a one-off version of the Chiron for a reported $18.9 million, which would make it the most expensive new car ever.