Where are my priorities?

Last week, I opened up a web browser, and noticed on the BBC’s news page an article (now no longer available, sadly) that nearly broke my heart. Some Muppet had destroyed a Bugatti Veyron. Yes, it made me upset enough that I started using British insults. This might have been because the story was on the BBC, and the incident happened in the UK, but I think it was mostly because it grabbed me somewhere down in my gut, and my more usual American-style insults just seemed too standard for me to use at a time like this.

Now, some of you are not likely to have quite grasped the enormity of this crime. I will do my best to illustrate. This person, their name never mentioned in the story or in anything I’ve seen in the news since, took what was once a finely crafted thing of surpassing grace and beauty…

Red Bugatti Veyron

Blue Bugatti Veyron

…and turned it into a twisted mixture of shame and tragedy:

The shattered remains of a once beautiful car.

This car, in the configuration you see there, has a 16-cylinder engine which produces more than a thousand (yes, that’s 1,000) horsepower. It can go from zero to sixty in a hair over two and a half seconds. This car retails for roughly one and a half million dollars. Let me write that number out for you too: $1,500,000. Its top speed is a little over 250 miles per hour. This car is, in fact, the fastest production model in the world. There have been only a few hundred of them ever built, and now, there is one less.

Oh, yes. In the process, the driver and his young passenger were involved in a 100 mph crash in which their car spun several times before striking another vehicle with several passengers, including a woman seven months pregnant, and then careening at high speed into the trees.

 You’ll note that I’ve managed to gloss over the entire human portion of this event in a single sentence, having already spent three paragraphs and a trio of pictures to describe the mechanical part. I went back and read over the news coverage of the event, after I realized that this was what I had been doing in my head. In every case, the focus is on the car. Yes, the people are usually mentioned, and certainly were on the BBC, but on some of the car sites I found covering the story, they weren’t given so much as a passing notice.

I would like to apologize. I yearn to throw myself before humanity and honestly say that I was wrong, and that I’ve seen the error of my ways, and from now on, I will be better. I want to do this, but I can’t. Every time I think about it, I don’t find myself feeling empathy for the people involved in what must have been a terrifying accident. I don’t know them, I haven’t so much as seen a picture of them, and I find it hard to open up my heart to their suffering. The car though, is different. The car touches something primal in me, and seeing it destroyed like this makes me want to rear up and roar like an angry mother bear, clawing at the faces of anyone who would destroy such a glorious example of design and engineering, and leave them bleeding on the cold ground.

Nevermind the humanity. This is a Crime Against Machinery.

Is this the hardware geek in me talking? Is the similar bias I find in the media’s coverage of this event due to a shared sense of reverence for technology experienced by the kinds of people who tend to get these types of assignments? Or is it simply a more basic human abhorrence at seeing something beautiful destroyed? I’m not sure, and I’m not certain I’ll be comfortable with the answer if I ever find it.

For the record, nobody was seriously hurt in the accident, and the foetus shows no signs of injury at all.

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9 Responses to Where are my priorities?

  1. B Barron says:

    Forget the car! (Sorry, I’m not into cars.) Were all those people killed?

    Sometimes I wonder how homo sapiens has gotten this far.

  2. B Barron says:

    ACK. I was so incensed I didn’t read the last paragraph. But I still marvel at how stupid, reckless and irresponsible people can be.

  3. Mark says:

    BB,

    I might be snide and a bit callous, but I’m not completely heartless.

    As for your wonder, I think that for people who do like cars, the most satisfying answer would be “six inches off the ground, and upwards of a third the speed of sound, grinning like idiots as the engine screams.” Your mileage may vary. If you drive something more practical than a Veyron, I’m willing to bet your mileage is a great deal further per gallon than such a over-powered beast of a car.

  4. goshawk says:

    I’m with you on this Mark. No matter how clearly I know in my brain that such things are not defensible on environmental, economic, political and many other grounds, I know there have been few things I have enjoyed as much as driving a really powerful car or motorcycle. Doesn’t mean that I own one, or that I am going to get one, just that I feel your pain. The root cause of the accident is probably that the person driving was not skilled enough to handle a 1000 HP car. Very few of us are.

  5. Mark says:

    Goshawk,

    The combination of 1000bhp and wet roads, along with the almost irresistible urge to take a car like that and goose it coming out of the corners, will almost inevitably be a brief squeaking sound, followed by spinning tires. The guy had apparently only had the car for a couple of weeks. I know that a car like that would be far too much for me to handle, and at those speeds on wet roads, I’m not sure that anybody could do it safely.

    I agree though, that this doesn’t stop me from wanting to be able to go out and drive one once in a while.

  6. laikal says:

    By far the best part about the Veyron is that it has a special lockout that requires a separate key in order to enable “top speed” mode. Basically, you have to set out thinking that you’ll want warp speed available, since the car has to be stopped for the key to work.

    This is wonderful; but like many speed limiters, tuned too high. The maximum speed attainable without the lockout key? 230mph.

  7. Mark says:

    Matt,

    Well, that last 23mph is critical to your ability to control the car. It takes a highly skilled driver to operate a motor vehicle at 253mph, but at a mere 230, even a trained monkey could… Alright. I can’t make that argument with a straight face. Which is sad, because you can’t even see my face right now.

    I grant you that a speed governor tuned that high is silly. However, even with it set to something more reasonable, like, say 120mph (fast enough to evade any road hazard I can think of, slow enough you might survive a corner), I’m not sure it does much good. It certainly wouldn’t have in this case, when the driver was doing ~100 at the time of the accident.

    What does the lock-out do? Does it disable part of the engine? Or is it just an electronic limit? Because if it doesn’t shut down some of the engine, thus providing a benefit in fuel economy (ha-ha, funny, efficient W-16 engine), I don’t see why a lot of owners wouldn’t be expected to just leave that key always turned over.

  8. […] I find that I must update my list of Crimes Against Machinery that I began in my earlier post about the shameful mistreatment of a Bugatti Veyron. The BBC is reporting that comedian and actor Eddie Griffin destroyed an Enzo Ferrari. Other news […]

  9. Adam says:

    it sickens me how something so valuable and beautiful, a marvel of engineering, could be destroyed so easily.

    Bugatti should have an experianced drivers course requiered for buyers, so they can learn to handle a 1,000 bhp machine and i agree with a 120 mph limiter wthought the lock-out

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