Prior Convictions: Record Breakers

Is it a coincidence that the Bugatti Chiron arrives and, not long afterwards, there's a flurry of activity surrounding the fastest production car record? Or is it more than that: is it the appeal of a certain nice round number? One that starts with a three...

Koenigsegg can claim the kudos at the moment...
Koenigsegg can claim the kudos at the moment...
Last week a Koenigsegg Agera RS took to the roads (rather than a test track, wonderfully) in Pahrump, Nevada, and set a two-way average top speed of 277.9mph, thus becoming the current production car speed record holder. Which is excellent. I like a new number, and particularly one that isn't set around the Nordschleife.

You can, though, get a bit pernickety about this number. About whether impartial verification by, say, the excellent people at Racelogic is enough for you (as it probably is for me), or whether you need an 'official' Guinness world record to make it count. Unlike a 0-60mph run or a Nurburging lap time, it seems to matter. I won't go too far into this but I can see the arguments either way.

I can imagine that, say, Bugatti might want - need, even - the official Guinness title, when it goes after it, and it will, with the Chiron. But that Koenigsegg or Hennessey - whose Venom GT once hit 270.49mph, in one direction only, on the Kennedy Space Center's 2.85-mile runway - might not be able to stand the hassle.

I don't want to big myself up here, but I am the current holder of an official Guinness production car speed record. Yes, really. Set in a Vauxhall Astra. Diesel. In Bedfordshire. But anyway, in terms of expertise it practically makes me a land-based Chuck Yeager.

... but Hennessey has big plans too...
... but Hennessey has big plans too...
What I can tell you is that getting Guinness approval is quite hard, and seriously expensive, work. Our production Astras, to make sure they were production standard, were taken straight from the line, sealed, unsealed to put safety kit in them and be run in, under supervision, then sealed again and only unsealed for the record. The process has to be so controlled - not unreasonably, for if Guinness isn't unimpeachable, then what's the point? - that if your production volumes are low, you might think: why bother?

So, look. If you can buy one, and they've built a few, and they go to the trouble of doing the record, then it counts, for me. I suspect, though, that Bugatti will jump through the requisite hoops. It'll have to. Hard though it is to feel any twinge of sympathy for a Volkswagen Group company, the Chiron is, after all, a 'proper' production car.

I know, the Agera and Venom GT are production cars too, insomuch as that, if you had the cash, you could buy one. It's just that the Bugatti has been built to meet the most exacting standards of one of the world's biggest car manufacturers, even when it comes to, say, keeping the cabin consistently cool when it's 30ºC outside and you're doing 186mph, or how quickly it clears its windscreen of fog in cold weather. There will be 500 of them, not a dozen. It's homologated to all global full production standards. It has been crashed, thrashed and tested in a way that, to put it bluntly, most limited-run supercars are not.

... and Bugatti wants another Guinness record
... and Bugatti wants another Guinness record
When it comes to the record, though, it's tyres that give Bugatti the biggest headache. Already Michelin is using aircraft test rigs, rather than automotive ones, for Chiron rubber, because the speeds we're talking about are more inline with aircraft take-off than production car running. To homologate a tyre for road car levels of noise and performance, including wet weather water dissipation, and do the best part of 300mph? It's a massive ask.

It'll happen, though, I'm sure. Wolfgang Durheimer, Bugatti's current President, former R&D head of Porsche and, I suspect, destined for the biggest jobs within VW Group (because he's brilliant, although it presumably helps that he's also untainted by any emissions shenanigans ), told me at the Chiron's launch that he thinks that a production car will one day do 500km/h (310mph, ish). I don't think he'd say that unless he knows it will, and that he knows it will during the Chiron's production life.

I love that the Koenigsegg Agera RS has already got this close. I love that they've had the balls to do it and I love that they've done it on a public highway. I'm thrilled, too, that they found a public body prepared to close the road to let them. Seems unlikely that they'd let you have a go along the A414 between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead, doesn't it?

But, somehow, there's a car, and a number, that I'm still waiting to see.

Read Matt's previous blogs below:
Sensible supercars
Performance limits
Phantom or i10?
Pondering the Porsche Passport
The disappearing manual M-car
The undead concept

[Source: Autocar]


Comments (17) Join the discussion on the forum

  • CaptainRAVE 10 Nov 2017

    Guinness approval is irrelevant in this day and age tbh.

    Oh, and plenty of people seem to have a go along the A414 between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead smile (unofficially of course)

  • hondansx 10 Nov 2017

    I think you summed things up very well. Agree entirely.

  • CraigyMc 10 Nov 2017

    CaptainRAVE said:
    Guinness approval is irrelevant in this day and age tbh.

    Oh, and plenty of people seem to have a go along the A414 between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead smile (unofficially of course)
    These records should be set with FIA participation.

  • pardonmyenglish 10 Nov 2017

    For me the times coming from small manufacturers don't hold the same weight as those from bugatti. They could easily make a 2000+ hp chiron which would be brutal, unreliable and compromised just like its competitors. But that's not bugatti ethos.
    Bugatti probably spent more money on designing the seats than hennessey for his whole car development.

  • williamp 10 Nov 2017

    well, when the British are aiming for 1000mph very soon, the rest of the world have to do something!!! paperbag

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