Thursday, February 02, 2006

My New Dream Car, and Reflections Thereon

Let me see; it has been more than a week since I last wrote here, and Alaina has six or seven posts. Meanwhile, I have started and nearly completed at least four or five posts in my head, and pondered many more, but unfortunately none of them have flowed through my fingers onto this virtual page.

This is hardly the most significant post I could come up with, but with the amount of time I’ve spent mulling it the last few days, it certainly deserves some space. Somehow in recent days I came across a blurb about the new Bugatti Veyron. From the first picture of the Veyron I saw (see photo nearby), I was hooked. Its color scheme, and my instant fascination with it, brings to mind a 1990 or 1991 Raleigh Peak mountain bike I discovered in an ad in Bicycling Magazine and drooled over for several years. I never received / purchased the Peak. I am afraid that’s not a good omen.

Definitely intrigued by the color scheme, unusual style, and the few tidbits of information I quickly picked up, I did a little research. Here’s a
quick overview from Down Under. The article says that few will make their way to Australia; that’s a shame, as it would appear that in its vast open spaces the Veyron would have some room to run . . .

I found a more entertaining and fascinatingly informational review, however,
here. The test driver/author has a sense of humor as well as style, and goes into some detail about how the car was designed and developed to actually achieve the sought-after speed (400 kph!) (note especially the part about the side view mirrors acting as “spoilers”). It begins:

When you push a car past 180mph, the world starts to get awfully fizzy and a little bit frightening. When you go past 200mph it actually becomes blurred. Almost like you’re trapped in an early Queen pop video. At this sort of speed the tyres and the suspension are reacting to events that happened some time ago, and they have not finished reacting before they’re being asked to do something else. The result is a terrifying vibration that rattles your optical nerves, causing double vision. This is not good when you’re covering 300ft a second. . . .

But once you go past 200mph it isn’t just the suspension and the tyres you have to worry about. The biggest problem is the air. At 100mph it’s relaxed. At 150mph it’s a breeze. But at 200mph it has sufficient power to lift an 800,000lb jumbo jet off the ground. A 200mph gust of wind is strong enough to knock down an entire city. So getting a car to behave itself in conditions like these is tough.

At 200mph you can feel the front of the car getting light as it starts to lift. As a result you start to lose your steering, so you aren’t even able to steer round whatever it is you can’t see because of the vibrations. Make no mistake, 200mph is at the limit of what man can do right now. Which is why the new Bugatti Veyron is worthy of some industrial strength genuflection. Because it can do 252mph. And that’s just mad — 252mph means that in straight and level flight this car is as near as makes no difference as fast as a Hawker Hurricane.

You might point out at this juncture that the McLaren F1 could top 240mph, but at that speed it was pretty much out of control. And anyway it really isn’t in the same league as the Bugatti. In a drag race you could let the McLaren get to 120mph before setting off in the Veyron. And you’d still get to 200mph first. The Bugatti is way, way faster than anything else the roads have seen.

This latter link also includes, on page 2, a link to a slide show with lots of cool shots. By surfing the net, I found this awesome shot, which is now (at least temporarily) on my desktop both at home and at work. Have I “peaked” your interest? :)

Well, before you decide to go out, buy one, and drive it home, you might want to save your pennies for a while – a long while. You’ll need about 130,000,000 pennies, in fact. (According to
this site, that would be about 40 tons of pennies. I don’t think the dealer or the realtor would accept payment that way. [Correction: That should read 400 tons of pennies. Thinking about it on my way to work this morning, I realized my calculation was off by one zero!]) As one of my co-workers commented, he can’t imagine a house this expensive. Well, he and I could imagine such a house (such as this one), but not owning it. And Alaina and I agree – if it comes down to owning a nicer home versus nicer cars, the house definitely wins (not that we’ll be moving up any time soon!).

The possibilities, however, of owning one intrigue me. Let’s say that I need to go to Atlanta next week to review some documents (I do). It’s about 533 miles from here to there. Driving normally, estimates it would take me eight hours and 25 minutes to get there. A flight would take about an hour and a half, but I would need to allow for at least another 45 minutes (conservatively) spent at the airports on each end, for a total of three hours. But if I were driving a Veyron, even at less than top speed of 250 mph – say 220 – I could make it in two hours and 25 minutes. That cuts six hours off the normal commute! Of course, you’d have to allow time to fill it with gas a couple times, but it’s still less than the flight/airport time. Now, don’t you think a Veyron is a great idea? If only I can persuade Alaina.

And yes, there’s other little problems, like cops with radar guns (no, I doubt they could catch me, even with a chopper, but running over stop sticks at 200 mph would not be fun). Even worse would be the terribly
slow traffic. Think about it. If I were to come over the crest of a hill at 220 mph and rear-ended another hot-rod going, say, only 90 mph in the same direction, that would nevertheless be like running into a parked car while I was going 130 miles per hour. I wouldn’t have time to say, “Uuh ooh” or even “ouch.” That makes me think of a funny joke, but I don’t have time for that now.


tom said...

That's one mean machine! Couldn't imagine driving that fast. I think 120 is my personal record. :)

Peter Falk said...

Wow! 16 pistons in a W! I would love to hear that baby peer! It would seem like the blurr would stop increasing at a certain speed!

Catherine said...

Don't stop saving the pennies yet. They are still legal tender, so technically, the car dealer will have to accept your 40 tons of coin. I would love to see the look on the dealer's face during that transaction.

DEALER: "So Mr. Falk, will you be financing this vehicle through our dealership?"

ANDREW: "No, I'm paying in cash."

DEALER: "I see. Will that be through a cashier's check then?"

ANDREW: "No, those are my dump trucks outside, containing 40 tons of pennies. Would you like to roll them, or shall I?"

steph said...

not sure I comprehend the desire or purpose behind wanting to drive 200+ mph. but, what a dream car! :)

Kevin & Amy said...

Andrew, for some reason I never would have guessed you to be a speed demon. That's awesome. :)