You get what you pay for
Just outside Molsheim, France, lies the relatively inconspicuous Bugatti factory. Look the other way for a few seconds and you'll drive right by it. Situated on acres of pastoral countryside, its structures are a mixture of the very old and the very new. This is where old man Bugatti raised his family and eventually began building the cars that would bear his name.
The Veyron is assembled here, inching along an intimate production line some 70 feet long.
Bugatti's own Dr. Thomas Bscher is leading a few journos on a tour, pausing here and there to ogle the hardware. Halfway through, Bscher disappears, along with most of the workers. I find myself alone with several million dollars' worth of Bugatti bits, fondling a titanium bolt worth 100 euros. Each Veyron uses a few hundred of these bolts. There are more titanium fasteners in a gigantic rotating bin--some big, some small. It takes a few thousand to build a Veyron. The springs are also wrought from titanium, specially wound by the suspension gurus at Eibach. I wonder if they'd fit on my M3. Actually, I wonder if any of this stuff could be used on my car. Imagine the weight savings from using titanium wheel bolts or titanium coils. It's enough to make Colin Chapman drool.
Turns out the Bugatti crew had assembled en masse to welcome one of its customers, a good ol' boy from Texas (or some Southern state). I guess if you're going to spend $1.3 million on a car, that's the treatment you get. It's the way I'd want to be treated, anyway.
According to Bugatti, the Veyron makes little--if any--profit. The components and engineering are so expensive that the company barely breaks even on each car sold. Along with the Volkswagen Phaeton, the Veyron is the last vestige of Ferdinand Piech's legacy. These cars were statements more than anything else, something like a maestro's final opus. Both represent a pinnacle of engineering, a sort of `damn the expense' pair of projects that cause accountants to leap from the windows of tall buildings.
I mention all this because my friends down the hall at Sport Compact Car love to gasp at the MSRPs of the Euros rolling through our short-term fleet. This is what I typically hear:
"I could have four Evos for the price of one 911 Turbo." Or: "I could get two WRX STIs for one Audi RS4."
Go ahead. Knock yourselves out. I, on the other hand, am a firm believer in the saying: "You get what you pay for." Especially when it comes to European cars.
I could describe the Porsche 911 Turbo's carbon-ceramic PCCB brakes or variable pitch turbo vanes, expound on the Sport Chrono package or the fact it'll do zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds... with an automatic transmission. I could eulogize about the Audi RS4, talk about its flow-optimized ventilation with Naca ducts on the undercarriage or its FSI-fed V8 with 100 bhp-per-liter naturally aspirated output.
I'd be wasting my breath. At the end of the day, those guys are determined to outgun me to the next stoplight. Never mind the deafening exhaust roar and popped fillings. You get what you pay for.
Once again I find myself rationalizing. I'm considering a fairly significant purchase, so I need to reassure myself the money spent is well placed. I keep thinking about the Veyron; if you break down the per-component cost, the car is actually a bargain. Ultimately, if something gives you pleasure, makes you happy, creates joy--it's worth every penny. I think the guy from Texas would have wanted to hear that.