Chasing Bugatti: Two Upstart Carmakers Race to Beat the King

In an early '60s episode of the The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling issues a warning to pool sharks: If you're the best, you'll spend eternity defending your title. The Bugatti Veyron carries that burden through the automotive netherworld. A top speed of 253.2 miles per hour makes it the fastest production car in the world. Now two small builders are eager to unseat the king, with rides that boast insane horsepower figures and ground-gripping aerodynamics. Will they hit 253.3? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, there will always be a new crop of upstarts looming in the champ's rearview. Welcome to hell, kid.

1) THE CHAMP
Bugatti Veyron
It's the most audacious machine in automotive history. Name almost any major system in a typical car and the Veyron's double the size — in some cases, four times. Bugatti fused together two V8s to make its monstrous 16- cylinder engine. It features four turbo chargers and 10 radiators, and at top speed chugs as much as 1.3 gallons of fuel per minute.
Engine Quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16
Power 1,001 hp
0 to 60 mph 2.5 seconds
Weight 4,190 pounds
Price $1,400,000

2) CHALLENGER
9ff GT9
Porsche tuning company 9ff has already clocked 241 mph in a modified 911 coupe producing 840 horses. Its latest creation, the GT9, has full-custom bodywork and a mid engine design to provide more stability at high speeds.
Engine Twin-turbo 4.0-liter flat six
Power 987 hp
0 to 60 mph 2.7 seconds
Weight 2,923 pounds
Price $665,500 (est.)

3) CHALLENGER
SSC Ultimate Aero TT
This American-built supercar is powered by a massive V8 engine fitted with two turbochargers. Engineers tuned its aerodynamic signature at NASA's Langley wind tunnel, and a test driver hit 230 mph during a recent trial run in Nevada before being forced to slow by road conditions. The throttle was at just 56 percent.
Engine Twin-turbo 6.3-liter V8
Power 1,183 hp
0 to 60 mph 2.8 seconds
Weight 2,750 pounds
Price $549,000

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