|2018 Bugatti Chiron
|Only 500 cars will be built
|Original List Price:
|€2,400,000 ($2,700,000 at the August 2016 exchange rate) plus tax
|$3,772,500 (this car)
|Tune Up Cost:
|If you have to ask...
|Chassis Number Location:
|Bottom of windshield on driver’s side and under driver’s footwell carpet
|Bugatti International Owners Club
This car, Lot 137, sold for $3,772,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s “Icons” Sale in New York City, NY, on December 6, 2017.
Once upon a time there was the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900, the fastest and most expensive car in the universe. Fast forward a World War, and a new kid from seemingly another galaxy appeared on the block: the gullwing-doored Mercedes-Benz 300SL, which swept all before it in GT racing and the showroom, where they probably wouldn’t have even given you a trade-in value for that quaint old Alfa.
“Classic”? Nobody had thought of that yet.
From here, both the pace and price tag escalation gain momentum. The following decade’s Lamborghini Miura can claim to be the first “supercar,” existing solely to excite rather than boasting any practical purpose. Its successor, the Countach, dominated the 1970s and served the same hedonistic role, especially late in its spoiler-laden life. Ferrari’s F40 finally reaffirmed the Prancing Horse as the supercar to beat in the 1980s — until McLaren’s single-minded F1 kicked it back to the Stone Age in the 1990s.
From the 1930s until the end of the 20th century, every decade had its automotive icon — an unattainable and otherworldly creation we could only read about or admire from afar. They are always rakish, powerful, lottery-win expensive and light-aircraft fast, with the power to inspire awe and dreams.
Who’s the Daddy now?
The love child of VW’s financial sledgehammer and Ettore Bugatti’s long-lost legacy, the Veyron assumed that mantle even before its long-gestated birth in 2005.
The Veyron’s uneasy crown
With horsepower that blitzed anything seen before on the road, and performance figures that pipped even the F1 to the post, on paper and social media, the Veyron earned its crown.
Pundits and collectors, though, are still divided. Its mixed parentage (Lexus LFA owners will sympathize) and mind-blowing maintenance costs have held the Veyron back in the marketplace.
That said, I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t think the Veyron offers value compared to most of the offerings from the Modena area. Look underneath a Veyron and an Enzo and it’s like comparing a private jet to a school project.
Perfectly rational people, though, aren’t usually the ones who collect things in the first place.
A refreshed king
At the 2016 Geneva Motor show, the long-serving Veyron was replaced by the Chiron, named like its predecessor after a pre-war Bugatti driver.
It’s not a clean-sweep design like, say, the Countach after the Miura, but rather a refresh. Think of the Aston V8 giving way to the Virage. The silhouette and basic mechanical architecture are finessed but familiar, with power, acceleration and top speed increased to keep other pretenders at bay for another few years. The price has progressed too: From the Veyron’s initial €1 million plus tax, the Chiron now sells for €2.4 million plus tax and before options (which typically tack on another €300,000).
What of the market?
The Chiron, then, is today’s gold standard of supercars. But what does our subject car’s auction result tell us about its market? Time to pull in some industry favors…
My first call is to a well-known supercar dealer who specializes in offering “the unobtainable” to his celebrity clients. “I think the NYC auction result was strong. Bugatti have priced this car very aggressively, and although there’s a waiting list, I’m sure there will be cancellations,” he said. “Let’s see if the next one can repeat that price, but it makes the Veyron look good value.”
For the opposing view, I managed to reach a company insider on his skiing holiday.
“The color scheme was very personal, but I felt the NYC Chiron wasn’t expensive if you compare it to what, say, the last-ever LaFerrari Aperta made at auction in Maranello,” he said. “Admittedly, those are no longer available, and that sale was for charity, but the Ferrari sold for four times its list price. You’d have to wait over two years to buy a new Chiron, and yet this one was just $500k over retail.”
More sales ahead
It won’t take us long to find out how the result compares to the broader picture, as two more Chirons will have come to auction by the time you read this — one car with 1,000 km (621 miles) in Paris and the other with delivery miles in Florida. There are a few for sale on the Internet, but the usual caveats apply: Cyberspace is full of ambitious Walter Mittys offering cars they don’t own — or that don’t exist.
As a Veyron owner, I’m not sure about the Chiron yet. It looks a bit Manga cartoon for my tastes, and the price takes it into serious-car territory, where you can buy Ferrari 275 GTB/4s, Miura SVs and plenty else besides with a proven track record, no mileage sensitivity, low ownership costs and not a whiff of crocodile driving shoes or male jewelry.
For now at least I’d call this a fair deal all round — but for discretionary road hooligan fun, not investment. Isn’t that how we all started in the first place? ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)