James May is, surely, one of the world’s most famous automotive journalists; but his place in automotive history was cemented when he set the production car top speed record in the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
Roughly a decade ago, May was handed the keys to the pumped-up Veyron at VW’s Ehra-Lessien high-speed oval. He pinned the throttle of the quad-turbocharged, 8.0-liter W16-engined weapon and hit a top speed of 259.11 mph (416.99 km/h), beating the record previously held by the standard Veyron.
In a recent video published by Drive Tribe, he discusses his top speed run in the Bugatti – and, perhaps surprisingly, claims that it was no big deal.
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“It would be tempting to big it up but the honest truth is it’s the easiest thing in the world,” he says. “Ehra-Lessien has got that massive long straight, you go around the banking to join it, you have to do pretty much 120 mph around the bank…and as it straightens out, like coming out of any bend, you just boot it.”
While May briefly held the production car top speed record, a Bugatti test driver jumped behind the wheel of the French hypercar shortly after him. With an pro at the helm, the Veyron SS was pushed to a two-way average top speed of 268 mph (431 km/h).
Bugatti went on to build five examples of its ‘World Record Edition’ Veyron Super Sport to commemorate the feat, each finished in gloss carbon fiber with bright orange accents. In total, just 30 units of the Veyron Super Sport were ever built, all with an output of 1184 hp and 1106 lb-ft (1500 Nm) of torque.