Bugatti became the first carmaker to top 300 mph, when a modified version of its hypercar hit 304.77 mph.
A Bugatti Chiron, adapted for higher speeds and driven by Andy Wallace, hit the top speed on Volkswagen's Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany on Aug. 2. It is the first supercar to break the 300 mph barrier.
"Bugatti has once again shown what it's capable of," said Stephan Winkelmann, president of Bugatti. "With this new record of the Chiron we enter again uncharted territory. Never before has a series manufacturer reached this high speed."
Bugatti, which is owned by Volkswagen, broke the record for a production car in 2005 when its Veyron model hit 254 mph. In 2010, its Veyron Super Sport set another record with a top speed of 268 mph. But Bugatti said that with its latest top speed, it is retiring from the race for numerical records.
"We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world," Winkelmann said. "In future we will focus on other areas. ... This was the last time for us."
The record-setting Chiron is not the typical production model that customers can buy for $3 million. It's what Bugatti calls a "pre-production vehicle of a Chiron derivative," with a longer and more aerodynamic body and reinforced tires from Michelin. Since the tires rotate up to 4,100 times in one minute, they were subjected to extensive trials and tests, and even X-rayed to optimize the smallest details before the test run.
The car was also fitted with added safety features for Wallace, including six-point seat belts and a special "safety cell" for the British racing car driver. The track pavement was cleaned with special mats to remove any stones or grit.
Bugatti is likely hoping that the new record will end, or at least reduce, its role in the growing arms race between hypercar makers over who has the fastest. In 2017, a Koenigsegg Agera RS broke Bugatti's record with a speed of 278 mph, leading some to question whether the Chiron could top it. Bugatti says that after shattering the mythical 300 mph barrier, it can redirect attention to the other attributes of its cars and not focus solely on speed.
"Our hypercars are capable of so much more," Winkelmann said. "They offer absolute exclusivity, luxury, unmatched beauty and a high level of automotive craftsmanship. The Bugatti is the only hyper sports car that combined all of these characteristics in one vehicle. We will concentrate even more on this in the future in the context of further exciting projects."