Bugatti Shatters Record to Become the Fastest Car in the World, But There’s a Catch

The Bugatti Chiron has become the first car to break the 300-mile-per-hour barrier.

304 miles per hour is, by pretty much every traditional standard of human measurement, fast. It’s 40% of the speed of sound at sea level. It’s 11 times faster than the fastest man in the world, nearly seven times faster than the fastest horse, and 3.57 times faster than the highest speed limit found in the United States. That last stat happens to be of particular relevance here, because it shows just how insanely fast the Bugatti Chiron seen here — which just hit 304 mph in a track test — is in real-world terms. That figure is enough to make the Chiron you see here the fastest production car in the world.

Sort of.

Video: The Bugatti Chiron Hits 304 MPH

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See, the Chiron you see here that set that 304-mph top speed at Germany’s Ehra-Lessien race track on August 2nd isn’t exactly like the Chirons you can buy today via duPont Registry if you have a few million in cash lying around. An extra safety cell and six-point harnesses were installed to keep test driver (and Le Mans champ, and previous world-speed-record-setter in the McLaren F1) Andy Wallace as safe as possible during the high-speed blast; the Michelin tires were re-reinforced to handle to handle the extreme forces involved; and, according to Autocar, the aerodynamics and styling altered, a taller top gear subbed in and the quad-turbo W16 boosted from 1,479 horsepower to 1,578.

All of which begs the question: Is this Bugatti Chiron a production car?

Bugatti, for what it’s worth, is being coy with its claims, describing the record-setting car as a “near-production” model and a “pre-production vehicle of a Bugatti Chiron derivative,” not a stock vehicle. Still, that prototype status isn’t keeping the carmaker from touting the vehicle as “the first hyper sports car to break the magic 300-mile-per-hour barrier.”

The handful of 0.001 Percenters who have no doubt already reserved their Chiron Super Sports (or whatever the production version of this car will ultimately be called) likely won’t give a damn, of course. They’ll never come close to hitting 300 miles per hour; they’ll just be happy to know they could, in theory, as they toodle about Monaco listening to the gearheads cat-call them. But that asterisk also means that the likes of Koenigsegg, SSC and other supercar/hypercar builders chasing speed-record glory can continue to claim that their cars hold the true production car speed record — and that the endless barstool debate over what car is The Fastest In The World will keep on truckin’ for as long as there’s beer to drink.

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