Bugatti Goes Topless with Veyron Grand Sport

    Of all the special editions of the inherently special Bugatti Veyron since its much-ballyhooed debut in 2005, including the unpainted Pur Sang and the hide-swaddled Fbg par Hermès edition, the new Grand Sport roadster is surely the most dramatic. Unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport features a removable hard top of transparent polycarbonate and an integrated roll hoop made of carbon fiber that bridges the engine’s enormous air intakes. Of course, the Grand Sport retains the Veyron’s 8-liter, quad-turbo W-16 power plant, good for a titanic 987 horsepower, but Bugatti has executed a host of under-the-skin modifications intended to ensure that the open-topped Veyron retains the coupe’s safety, structural rigidity, and superb driving dynamics. With the hard top in place, the roadster loses nothing to the enclosed Veyron: Top speed remains a stunning 253 mph. With the top off, terminal velocity falls to a still-astonishing 224 mph. (The hard top can’t be stowed onboard, but the Grand Sport includes a clever “umbrella” soft top — usable to 81 mph — for unexpected downpours.) The Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport is priced at about $2.1 million, and although Bugatti has promised the first 50 cars to existing customers, the company plans to build a generous 150 examples of the world’s fastest convertible starting in March 2009. (www.bugatti.com)

    —Matthew Phenix

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