Unless you live in the Principality of Monaco, even seeing a Veyron out in the open is a rarity in itself. I’ve only ever spotted one on the streets of Tokyo, the rest only seen at motor shows. Ever since its introduction in 2005 it has redefined what hypercars are all about, offering never before heard of performance in a package that is reportedly as reliable and as easy to drive as a VW Golf. So you can imagine my excitement when I was allowed to spend half an hour with one, in one of the Fuji Speedway (FSW) pits of all places.
Since we’ve begun our collaboration with MotorHead magazine these sort of opportunities have become plentiful. Takada-san – who heads the car-culture-oriented publication – is always striving to come up with unique features to run in the pages of his mag.
The idea to do a time attack event at FSW with a Veyron has been one that has taken many months to organize. Finding an owner willing to let a professional driver thrash his brand new and prohibitively expensive car was one hurdle, but the logistics and costs alone were even more problematic. After all, renting out Fuji Speedway for half a day is not exactly cheap. But one very early and rather frozen morning last month…
… it all came together. Takada-san told me that the driving wouldn’t start until after 10 am, so I made a point to be at the circuit’s gates at 7 am. There was not a chance in hell I would have risked losing even one single picture opportunity of the Veyron and another car that was brought to FSW at the same time. But more on that particular car in a separate post. Most humane people out there settle for a ¥20,000 a day transporter from Nippon Rent-a-car, already a luxury in itself seeing just how advanced the JDM flat-beds are. But that was just not going to cut it. A four-car, fully automated race car trailer was rented for the day; the only way to move cars that cost as much as a villa!
While the Veyron was being unloaded and moved into the pits and right after into the frozen pit lane, I stood in the background taking it all in. I hadn’t heard the W16 motor in one of these even fire up before, and just as expected, it all sounded very muted; that low-frequency drone flowing out of the big single-exit exhaust, hinting at the towering performance that lies within.
First thing on the schedule was to drive a couple of laps, the first one stopping at various spots on the track to get potential cover shots for the mag. I followed too, interested to see what sort of vision Takada had for his next cover. After a few corners it was decided that this actual spot was close to perfect, so his photographer got a few angles to try and capture this unusual scene of a Bugatti racing on track.
Car-to-car photography followed and with the sun still pretty low on the horizon it all made for some pretty awesome photo opportunities; not to mention the video that was also being filmed at the same time!
There was so much happening that it was one of the busiest on-location photoshoots I’ve attended and an equally great learning opportunity to see just how damn organized the Japanese are. When budgets run this high every second of the shoot is organized down to the smallest details.
After they were done it was my turn. I got my half hour with this behemoth of a hypercar and proceeded to snap away from every conceivable angle. I always love shooting in the pits of any race track, balancing ambient light with the neons above and at times when needed some externals lights. This time however I had to run around like crazy…
… but I didn’t care as opportunities like this don’t pop up often!
It’s all in the details
I’m sure you have all realized that this is actually the Grand Sport version of the Veyron 16.4, characterized by the removable targa top glass roof that in no way limits the top speed of the car, which still tops out at 408 km/h (253+ mph), given a long enough stretch of road.
With the roof removed, the Grand Sport is automatically limited to 369 km/h (229 mph), making it the second fastest convertible in the world. The fastest is the 1200hp Grand Sport Vitesse, which manages to hit the same speed as the closed roof or coupe versions. But all these figures are so gargantuan they even don’t make sense in the real world! What does make sense is the presence of the car; it sits low and wide on those massive 20-inch wheels which are painted in the same deep blue hue as the lower section of the carbon fiber bodywork.
Those wheels, said to cost $11,500 a piece, are shod in the only tire that sports a 400 km/h speed rating: the Michelin Sport PAX System , 245/690 R520 at the front and 365/710 R540 at the rear. A full change of rubber will set a Veyron owner back $36,400, so a track outing is pretty scary money! The rest of the carbon fiber body is painted in what has to be the smoothest satin paint I have ever felt; it’s almost rubbery to the touch, and it highlights the roundness of the design beautifully.
One of the nicest details are the hydraulic actuators that tilt the rear wing in a split second to the desired angle to help in both high speed stability or to act as an air brake when stomping on the massive carbon ceramic brakes. The way they are integrated into the rear end of the car as well as the billet parts that make up the various sections is a little work of art in itself.
Literally no curvature or detail in the car’s body is there without a reason or a function, maybe with the exemption of the legendary Bugatti grille, something that needed to be integrated for obvious reasons.
The EB logos that are stamped on the fuel filler cover and the rear end stand for Ettore Bugatti, the Italian engineer and founder of Automobiles E. Bugatti. He opened the company in France hence why it’s known as a French brand.
A little detail shot of the center-exit exhaust, which is joined by a few other ones integrated under the one-piece carbon diffuser. The Veyron is completely covered underneath to eliminate turbulence and therefore lift.
Compared to more eccentric automobiles at this price level, like the Pagani Zonda or Huayra, the Veyron’s interior is almost sedate. Simple and effective would probably be a more suiting way to describe it; the quality of materials and construction is of course of the highest order and there are a few nice touches like the quilted leather seats…
… the brushed center console…
… and of course the instrument binnacle. If it looks metal, it is metal, starting from the bezels of each of the five dials to all the switchgear dotted around the cabin.
Not your usual speedometer, but despite that 420 km/h end scale…
… it’s actually this little dial that has come to define the Veyron’s instrumentation: the power meter. The 1001 PS (987hp) the 8 litre, W16, quad-turbo generates is said to be extremely conservative! Oh and yes, this car has only covered 544 km since new, and that was after its time out on track.
Gotta love the billet aluminum pedals!
I didn’t even dare drop my big behind into that seat, afraid the rivets in my jeans would accidentally scratch the soft hide. You can see the V-box brains that the MotorHead staff fitted behind the seat to record the car’s performance on track. Seiji Ara, who was hired to pilot the car, didn’t end up pushing to the limit, managing a 1’56″ lap while keeping at a somewhat conservative pace.
My time with the Veyron was coming to an end, each minute flying by so quickly as I continued to circle the car in search of the perfect angle.
The final detail I looked at was the exposed engine, or rather the exposed covers and plenums that hide that mid-mounted W16 underneath. It almost didn’t look like a conventional engine, but more like some sort of future propulsion unit.
In rare form
And with that, the time was up. Mind you, throughout the day, I did manage to immortalize the Veyron in a variety of different spots like here as it was first parked out onto the frozen pit lane for the first set of images.
This car really is all about presence…
… and especially so when it’s moving.
I might have spent the whole time flying from side to side in the chase van to get these shots…
… but that was by far the highlight of the day so well worth the bruises!
The action continued on track as Seiji Ara passed the car over to its owner, who enjoyed taking his still brand new ride for a few spirited laps.
With only 500km on the clock this was probably the first time he had ever driven it in anger.
Seeing the opportunity, a few other cars from the owner’s arsenal were also thrown into the transporter, and as you have seen from this month’s editorial I do have a feature on that Maserati MC12R coming up next. This supercar theme is gearing up to be pretty exciting, so make sure you check back continuously over the next few days as we have lots more to come!
I saw one parked in onesti (Romania) in my front building :))) the owner uses it to date 15 years old chicks xD it's his dad's car, he personally has a Audi r8 :) his dad killed many people to get that much money lol
looks like you were the only one there....How impressive . Wish I could have your connections to get just even get close to this car. Keep up the GREAT work Dino!
Motorhead was teasing us with the video and the two other cars at the end, which i couldnt tell what they were till now. will we see them in action Dino?
Great shoot Dino and a great colour combination for the car as others have said. I wonder just how many Veyrons have ever got to see a track too. Fair play to the owner for bringing it along, especially on a day when there's snow at the side of the track!
I might have a slight OCD but now i can`t help but stare at that hood.. it looks to have so poor fit and finish none of the edges is lining up. And there is big gaps on the sides. and it looks like it goes too high onto the front windshield.
Incomprehensible as it might be for the most of the readers and McLaren fanboys this car elevated the game to O.G. status.
From an engineering perspective, it is faster than a McLaren, it has a bulletproof-reliable 1000hp (or more depending on the version) engine, it is has all the luxuries and it is as easy to drive as a Golf. This is called progress.
Regardless of how it looks; this car is a stunning piece of engineering.
Huge thumbs up to the owner too, for what looks like a great colour combination. It seems all too often these high-end cars get ordered in some fairly gaudy combinations. Money definitely doesn't buy taste!
On a random note..
You should have used a front-on picture of the car for the title pic, like the last three supercar posts!
I believe what Thomas Hobbes said about people being naturally evil is true.
When I was reading the post, deep down inside, I wanted to take a big dump on the car and just let it sit there in the sun just to piss off the owner. He'll then have a million-dollar car that smells like crap and no one will want to be near it. Man, I'm a terrible person.
It could be because of this Stone IPA that I'm drinking that's making me think like this though.
PFFFTTT!!! THAT''S IMPOSSSIBBRRRUUUU!!!!!
Has anybody on here seen the mega factories documentary on this car its a good watch. What ever about the looks this car is an incredible feet of engineering.
Good Pictures. Don't like the Veyron that much, to me it is a little bit dull, but maybe I should see one in person.
"continuous" ....definitely the best word to describe the core SH readership. There's such a volume of good stuff that if you miss a day, the article you're dying to see might already be on the second page! Also, received a very bright orange Vol.2 today...but never got it out the office!...too many people want a look (and they don't even care about cars! but emotion is being communicated).
I've been up close and personal with two since I've been in Florida. One was a white and silver California-based car and the other one is at "The Swap Shop" in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. While I'm not a fan of them, they DO have a presence about them. Great photographs as always, Dino! Keep up the great work!
@pesugob6 You mean a video?
@SuzyWallace Thanks Suzy!
@MatsNorway That's for aero, the LFA has a similar thing. Trust me, the fit and finish is so tight you can't even fit a credit card along panel gaps.
@JustinBeaverFever No, sir. The McLaren was twice the car this VW will ever be. The Veyron only bested the McLaren's record by a few mph, and the McLaren achieved 243 mph with 4 fewer cylinders than the Bugatti, it achieved it with no forced induction of any kind, and it achieved it with only 643 hp, whereas the Bugatti needed 4 freaking turbos to do it, and it needed over 1000 hp. Not to mention the fact that the McLaren went 243 mph in the early 90's with early 90's tech. This was a time when 190 mph was a big deal. Also, the McLaren, you know, actually participated in motorsport and was successful. It wasn't some show-off piece for rappers and rich bimbos, like the Veyron. In addition, the F1 was much more of a driver's car, because it came with a six-speed manual, and it was more practical than the Veyron, because it had a massive amount of luggage space and it sat 3 people. Just remember that faster =/= better.
@scibO My pleasure, I was hoping the wallpapers would go down well:)
@RdS2 Why? I like to be different! ;)
@LouisYio And people say I'm a bit off.
@koko san It's a whole different thing in person
@JDMized PS Pferdestärken is the German term for HP.
@MaxFriedhoff I though the feature on the MC12 Corsa would have been better than a wallpaper :)
@JSequoia Haha thanks! We try out best and yes we do know what you mean about the second page comment :)
@Tonioseven Will try!
@JustinBeaverFever The Veyron also has a miserably slow nurburgring time (7:40 for an Australian mag, I believe, or 2 seconds slower than a stock 458 Italia). Given that the attempt last year in a Supersport seems to have fizzled out with no times announced, the Veyron doesn't represent much in the way of progress other than putting another 20-odd mph on top speed (which pretty much destroys the obscenely expensive tyres to obtain, I recall). So let's all hail the progress in making a dragster that can drive like a Golf!
@koko san I am aware of that. I pointed out the slight mistake because...well, it's incorrect and misleading.
You would think that a high-profile photographer/ journalist would know the difference between the two (ESPECIALLY after so many years in the business), but that wasn't the case.
Then said journalist adjusted the numbers accordingly.
It must have irritate him to know that a troll pointed that out! After all, the troll is nobody, where the high-profile journalist is a well known photographer all around the world for his great credentials and knowledge.
Life is non-sense sometimes.
@Nikhil_P I was thinking the same thing.
@JustinBeaverFever i think he may be confused between the 'normal' F1 and the F1 LM that was featured a few days ago...
@JustinBeaverFever And you can't tell me that this is the interior of a spartan, stripped-out race car:
@JustinBeaverFever How do you know it's uncomfortable? Rowan Atkinson uses his as a daily driver. It's more practical not only because of the 3 abreast seating, but also because it has a vast amount of luggage space. The F1 isn't spartan, either. It has air conditioning, a radio, 10 disc CD changer, power windows, fitted luggage, and a fitted golf bag among other things. The F1 was equipped with all the luxuries of the day, and still, it held the land speed record for a production car for many years, which is even more impressive when you take into consideration that it wasn't built with the intention of being the fastest car ever made, that was just a happy coincidence. Rather, it was built with the intention of being a fantastic all-round supercar, very much unlike the Veyron, which can only do one thing well.
2) Can a dragster drive like a Golf?
Ridiculous arguments by people who cannot understand that achieving performance and luxury is different from producing a spartan street legal racecar like the McLaren. If I wanted a racecar just for a few track days, I would go for the Ferrari 599XX Evolution.
@FunctionFirst You kinda messed that up.