The world’s most powerful production car, the nearly $3 million Bugatti Chiron, has been out for almost a year and a half now. But we still don’t know its top speed, and we won’t for a while—a Bugatti test driver said the closer the car gets to 300 mph, the less likely it is that modern tires can handle the pressure. We’ve never known the Chiron’s top speed other than rumors about it, thanks to a limiter that caps it off at 261 mph. The manufacturer might not even know that number, since it doesn’t plan to make an true, unrestricted speed run until 2018. The Veyron, its predecessor, ran 267.8 mph without a limiter in 2013. At the moment, Bugatti test driver and Le Mans champ Andy Wallace doesn’t seem to have much hope for the car blowing that number out of the water once the limiter is off. Here’s what he told Popular Mechanics about the car’s physical limits without a limiter, at no fault of its own: Wallace implied the Chiron reaches its limited speed of 261 mph with relative ease. So, could there be another 39-mph left? He says that speed is unlikely because the forces at that level are devastating. Even at 261 mph the wheel and tire has to withstand extreme forces. The valve cap on each wheel weighs 2.5 grams, but it equates to 16 pounds at 261 mph. As the speed moves even higher, the loads increase exponentially. Wallace says at the… [Read full story]
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