Jay Leno has a passion for early Bugatti automobiles, and has numerous examples in his collection. When Bugatti chose this year's Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the North American debut of the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, the ultra-luxury automaker even sprayed the car in the same white and light blue livery as Leno’s Bugatti Type 37A racer.
In fact, Leno was asked to display his car, finished in Pierre Veyron’s personal racing livery, alongside the new Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. Given that kind of a relationship between Leno and Bugatti, we suppose it was inevitable that the luxury automaker would bring its latest supercar to Jay Leno’s Garage for show and tell.
Based on the open-air Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, the Grand Sport Vitesse ups its game by adding more horsepower and shaving off a few pounds. Power still comes from the same 8.0-liter W16 as used in lesser Veyrons, but larger turbos and a total of four fuel pumps raise output to 1,200 horsepower (the same as on Veyron Super Sport models).
Extra output ups the cooling requirements, so the Grand Sport Vitesse can be distinguished by its (slightly) larger horseshoe grille and its greater number of intakes. In all, eleven radiators are used to keep engine temperatures in the green, regardless of how hard the car is driven.
Unlike ordinary Veyron Grand Sport models, which use both carbon fiber and aluminum to form body panels, Vitesse variants get a body crafted exclusively from carbon fiber. That’s not to say the car is light weight, since it still tips the scales at some 4,400 pounds, but as Leno describes it, the car drives like it weighs 1,000 pounds less.
Some of the handling gains were achieved by using softer springs and more advanced dampers, which may be counter-intuitive for those from the stiffer-is-faster school of suspension design. Leno likens the around-town ride to a Mercedes S-Class, but standing on the throttle changes the nature of the car completely.
It’s this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality that attracts buyers to the Veyron, despite its exorbitant price (roughly $2 million for the Grand Sport Vitesse shown here). Still, for buyers with the price of admission, no other car on the planet can match the Veyron for both flexibility and technological sophistication, which is why Bugatti as sold some 300 to date.