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Here's Why Top Speed Records Are Completely Useless

Opinion / 37 Comments

Any why we should just learn to ignore them.

With a top speed of 304.773 miles per hour, the Bugatti Chiron is now the fastest production car in the world. Well, that is until America strikes back with the Hennessey Venom F5 or Koenigsegg decides to attempt a top speed run with the Jesko. The point is none of these speed records will ever stick with the rate at which technology is moving.

Remember, the McLaren F1 set the record with an average speed of 240.1 mpg back in 1998 and wasn't dethroned until the Bugatti Veyron came along in 2007. Since then, the record has been claimed on multiple occasions by Hennessey, Koenigsegg, Bugatti (again), and even a company called SSC. These companies can keep going at each other to recapture the top speed record but we are of the opinion that the whole pursuit is completely useless and the collective car community should not pay attention to top speeds.

via Bugatti
via Bugatti
via Bugatti

You Will Never Attempt It

The argument of "you don't need to drive a fast car because there are speed limits" has always annoyed us but we have to admit there is some merit to it. At a certain point, fast cars become completely unusable, even if you live in Germany and have access to the unrestricted Autobahn. Even 0-60, the premier stat you see on the cover of magazines, is completely useless in real life. There may be a bevy of runways across the world where you can approach 200 mph in the half-mile but 250-plus is an entirely different story.

Bugatti has performed all of its top speed testing at the Ehra-Lessien test track, which contains a massive 5.4-mile straightaway, and even then, the company has taken enormous safety precautions. No customer will have the space, recourses, weather conditions, or stomach to ever approach these speeds, so the numbers are purely for bragging rights. "Haha Mark Zuckerberg, my car can do 300 mph!"

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via Bugatti
via Bugatti
via Koenigsegg
via Koenigsegg

Your Actual Car Can't Do It

When performing these top speed runs, there is often a grey area with what constitutes a "production car." To break the 300 mph barrier, Bugatti had to lower and lengthen the car, reinforce the tires, extend the tailpipes, replace the airbrake, and tune the W16 engine to produce 1,578 horsepower. In other words, the record car is nothing like the Chiron you take home from the dealership. You may think this should disqualify Bugatti from the record but this practice is nothing new.

Even the McLaren F1, which held the record for decades, required modifications to reach over 240 mph. The record-setting car had its 6th gear rev limiter increased from 7,500 to 8,300 rpm in order to hit its top speed. So even if you buy an original McLaren F1, it won't be capable of hitting 240 mph even if you tried. And like the Chiron, the F1 hit its top speed at Ehra-Lessien, so good luck finding another location to hit the car's top speed.

via McLaren
via McLaren
via McLaren
via McLaren

The Records Will Keep Coming

Wealthy people love bragging rights, which is why owning the fastest car in the world will always be in vogue within the billionaire circles. The trouble is, once the top speed record is taken away, the car still needs to have value beyond being the record holder. People worship the McLaren F1 because it is the ultimate analog driving experience and prices have so reflected.

But once cars like the Veyron and SSC Ultimate Aero were dethroned, their leftover value was far less substantial. Just like a smartphone from five years ago, cars like the Veyron have been replaced with newer and hotter models. There may be a few buyers out there who are wealthy enough to drop a few million every time Hennessey or Koenigsegg grab a new top speed record but it will certainly be an expensive endeavor, to say the least.

via Hennessey
via Hennessey
via Hennessey
via Hennessey

Just Focus On Driving Enjoyment

Children who love cars can often rattle off the performance stats of every supercar and hypercar on the market - horsepower, 0 to 60, top speed, all of the important magazine numbers. Because none of these cars are truly attainable and few of us will ever have the opportunity to drive them, these numbers are often used as the best estimate of which car is best, but we completely disagree. Rather than focus on which car is fastest (a task few will ever experience), let's agree to focus on how they feel to drive.

The McLaren F1 was more than just the fastest car of the 1990s. It was an experience, which is why it will remain relevant well beyond its time as the top speed king. Whenever a new car is revealed, no matter how much it costs, don't just look at the 0-60 and top speed numbers, but rather think about what it will be like to drive or how it will make you feel and if you still want to buy it, go right ahead.

via Koenigsegg
via Koenigsegg
via Koenigsegg
via Koenigsegg

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