The fastest, most expensive car in the world

admin - Saturday, 14 August 2010 08:51

  Welcome to the fastest production car in the world…and the most expensive. This past summer, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport set the speed record as the fastest production car in the world going 431 km/h (268 mph), with former race driver Pierre-Henri Raphanel behind the wheel. 

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The new Veyron is large for a two-seater, measuring 175.7 in. from bumper to bumper, and riding on a 106.7-in. wheelbase. It’s wide and low at 78.7 in. and 46.8 in., respectively. The car looks similar to the base Veyron, but there are subtle differences. On its roof are two NACA ducts that feed air into the engine, and the front of the car has been reshaped to house larger air vents (the lower one extending around the sides to the wheel arch).

The project leader, Frank Gotzke, said that all exterior (and many interior) changes were made for cooling. The major obstacle when creating this super car was to cool the engine, so it could produce the output needed to make this car the fastest production car in the world.

The quad turbocharged W-16 engine produces a remarkable 1200 bhp peaking at 6400 rpm and 1106 lb.-ft. of torque from 3000 to 5000 rpm. Now when you’re talking numbers on this grand of a scale in a production car, you naturally have obstacles. Cooling the engine, as mentioned before, becomes a problem, so Gotzke added larger intercoolers than the ones in the “normal” 1001-bhp Veyron 16.4 to offset the bigger turbos. There are also dedicated coolers for the engine, transmission and differential oils. Another necessity was more powerful fuel pumps to feed the hungry aluminum 16-cylinder powerplant. The carbon-fiber chassis was also strengthened to handle the extra power with a stiffer suspension setup and enhanced structural rigidity. Despite the use of super lightweight materials throughout the car, including carbon fiber for the body and much of the chassis, as well as aluminum, magnesium and titanium for the engine, the Super Sport is quite heavy, tipping the scales at 4044 lb. Gotzke explained that this was intentional because he didn’t want the Super Sport to be seen as a race car for the street whose only mission was to set fast lap times. He wanted the car to be useable everyday, comfortable yet sinister.

True to his word, the car was smooth, quiet and comfortable when I sat behind the steering wheel. When the road opened up, I floored it. As soon as my right foot hit the floor, my torso was violently slammed into the seatback, as if I was struck head on by NFL linebacker Ray Lewis. Everything seemed to go white for a split second before I realized that I was already at the far end of the road. I looked at the speedometer, it showed 270 km/h (169 mph). Behind me, the rear wing had extended, cutting through the air like Superman’s cape and providing downforce to the rear of the car. According to Bugatti, the Super Sport goes from 0-100 km/h (0-61 mph) in 2.5 seconds. From the seat of my pants, it felt a lot quicker. There’s no way a car weighing more than two tons should be able to accelerate this quickly, I thought.

I got off the throttle a bit as a long sweeper materialized in front of me. I touched the brakes and turned in. The car leaned a bit, but the handling balance was near neutral, thanks in part to the 45/55 front/rear weight distribution. The steering felt precise and crisp, and surprisingly light. My co-driver, Raphanel, said that the car will not oversteer unless you do something really stupid, like brake or lift abruptly in mid corner. The balance of the car was set up for mild understeer, but will pull 1.4g around a skidpad, according to the company.

When we reached a small village, I put the car in cruise mode, traveling about 40 mph. The car returned to a mild-mannered Clark Kent, with its flowing red cape tucked neatly away. The seats were comfortable and the cabin was quiet. The fit and finish of the interior were first-rate, and all the materials, including the leather and carbon fiber, were presented in a classy manner. The instrument cluster consisted of the usual tachometer, speedometer, fuel level and oil pressure gauges, but one special meter stood out. It was the horsepower gauge that told how much power was being produced. While the stock Veyron’s maxed out at 1001, the Super Sport’s went all the way up to 1200.

So what does it take to own one of what could be the most collectible car in modern-day history? Money and patience. If you have €1.95 million (that’s $2.7 million) lying around in some xx fund for the black-and-orange World Record Edition (or €1.65 million for the base Super Sport), then you can order now, but it will take about a year for delivery. The factory makes only two Veyrons a week (of all types). If I ever hit it big and have the resources to purchase one, I would in a second, not just because it’s a hoot to drive, but because this will go down in history as the most excessive yet exclusive car ever produced.

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Sales of used cars are way up

admin - Monday, 2 August 2010 08:51

  Sales of used cars are way up. So far almost four million more have been sold this year than last. But buying a used car is never a good deal if you end up with someone else’s headaches. Consumer Reports’ auto experts can keep you on the straight path. 

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More people are buying used cars in this down economy. As a result, used cars are in short supply and prices are up.

“People are looking for value now,” says Rik Paul of Consumer Reports. “And used cars, especially late-model used cars, are better values than new cars.”

But Consumer Reports says you have to shop carefully. First, narrow down your choices to a reliable make and model. That translates into less time and money spent at the repair shop.

“The reliability information that Consumer Reports gathers shows that some models are generally more reliable than others. It’s hard to go wrong with a Honda, for instance,” says Paul. “The Accord, the Civic, the CR-V, and the Pilot are all very reliable.”

Next, you want to find a car that’s been well maintained. Ask for records so you can see if the recommended maintenance was done as well as any repairs.

“You should also look over a used car very carefully,” Paul explains. “Telltale signs of damage are rust or corrosion like this or a door that doesn’t close properly.”

Also check the engine and under the car for any oil or coolant leaks. If you find any, steer clear.

But most importantly, have an independent mechanic check out a used vehicle before buying it.

“If someone won’t allow a car to be inspected, consider that a red flag and move on,” Paul says.

And is it better to get a certified used vehicle? They can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars more.

“If you focus on getting a reliable car that’s well-maintained, and you have it inspected by an independent mechanic, you can skip going the certified-car route,” says Paul.

Taking a test drive is also important. You want to see if the car drives smoothly and that there are no unusual noises. Take the car on highways and local roads, too. Ideally you want to spend up to a half-hour driving the car so you have enough time to size it up. You can get more advice on buying a used car by clicking on the Hot Button.

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