If your custom made Saville Row suit, Patek Philippe watch and titanium Vertu phone aren't turning heads anymore, then maybe the time has come for a serious automotive upgrade. Forget about BMW, Mercedes and Porsche and turn instead to the car that is the closest thing to strapping yourself to the back of a rocket: the Bugatti Veyron.
First launched in 2005, the Veyron which can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.4 seconds and boasts a top speed of an 253 mph has car enthusiasts's engines racing. "It's a staggering piece of machinery," says Stephen Vokins who organized an exhibit of supercars at England's National Motor Museum this spring. "The engine pushes the boundries of what's possible." Taking orders for only 75 more of the 300 Veyrons that will ever be made, Bugatti upped the ante this March by partnering with French leathergoods house Hermés for a limited edition Veyron available only by special request at an additional $850,000 on top of the standard $1.5 million dollar asking price. The two-tone Hermés Veyron can be made in any color combination (Bugatti suggests chocolate and beige or chocolate and red), a grille made of interlocking Hs, and re-engineered wheel rims with what looks like stitching around the edges. But the piece de resistance is a leather interior that took Hermés craftsmen up to eight weeks to hand stitch and then install in the Bugatti factory. "I guess we lost 10 Birken bags devoting my craftsmen to the car," says Hermés Interior and Design CEO François Taverne, referring the the bag known for its long wait list and for the fact that it takes one craftsman 18-25 hours to make.
If you're not a Saudi oil sheik, a Russian oligarch or James Bond, perhaps you've never heard of a supercar. A little background on why someone would pay almost $2 million for a car that can burn through a full tank of gas in 10 minutes. Supercars, made by companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, and Koenigsegg, are all about acceleration speed and design. "A proper supercar should be drop dead gorgeous. If it drives by and it doesn't turn heads, then you've failed," says Vokins. "Any bystander should be talking about having seen it for weeks afterwards." With prices ranging from $150,000 to $2 million, supercars are the bespoke suits of the automotive world. "They don't burp one out every 10 seconds like a Toyota," says Leslie Kendall, curator of Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum. "It's done carefully, painstakingly, by hand." Constructed by a small crew of top engineers at the company's factory in Molsheim, France, the Veyron is the ultimate exotic car. "It blows every other car, Porsche, Ferrari, whatever, off the road," continues Kendall. The appeal of owning one lies in combining a hand-crafted object with a machine on the cutting edge of technology.
Sitting with your back to a 1,001 horsepower engine, in a seat that can be molded specifically to the owner's physique, usually makes for a car that is not exactly built for the weekend run to Home Depot. "It's very difficult to make a car that both handles well and can go fast," says Vokins. Since supercars tend to be all about forward motion, they often lack standard side mirrors for maneuvering, and any breakdown means shipping it back to the home factory for repairs. The ease of handling, and the extraordinary reliability, unusual in a high performance car, is one of the reasons the Veyron is so desirable, "it's almost idiot-proof, anyone who's just gotten their license can get behind the wheel of this car," says Vokins.
So why add Hermés to the mix? Lamborghini partnered with Versace two years ago, and Aston Martin has partnered with menswear company Dunhill, so there is a precedent for the combination of style and speed. "It's another way Bugatti can affirm their association with the most glamorous, high-priced goods in the world," says Kendall. But according to the folks at Bugatti and Hermés, it's more than that. Ettore Bugatti, a race car maker, first worked with Emile Hermés in the 1920s, when he ordered luggage for his Bugatti Royale. The pairing is the simple reuniting of two good friends. Even James Bond can appreciate that.