Is The Bugatti Chiron Road Legal?


The Bugatti Chiron is arguably at the very pinnacle of what humans are currently able to to build has performance figures which almost match its somewhat high cost, which is currently around the $3m mark. The people who are in a position to own these types of car fascinate me. I mean, what must their houses be like if they’re driving around in a $3m car? In fact, this car is so fast it had to be limited to only 261 mph! This is because there’s currently no road-legal tire that can handle this velocity.

However, let’s say you win the lottery and you decide to update your Honda Civic for a Bugatti Chiron. Is this even possible in the US? Bugatti is based in Europe, where they have different regulations to the US.

Is the Bugatti Chiron road legal in the US? Yes, the Bugatti Chiron is road legal in the United States, however, there are physical differences to the car in the US that differentiate it from the car you’ll (rarely) see on the streets in Europe. Due to regulations in the US, Bugatti needed to make a couple of adjustments – the most notable being somewhat ugly rear bumpers.

Were changes required to the Chiron for the US market?

For the Bugatti Chiron to be sold in the US, Bugatti needed to make changes to the Chiron. Unfortunately, not only for Bugatti but for American car enthusiasts – the Chiron had to have some physical alterations to their European model. You will find that for the US version there are some side turn indicators but these aren’t too obtrusive. Where the problem comes is with the rear bumpers! Stuck onto the back of the Chiron are two, rather thick, lumps of rubber which stand out like a sore thumb.

Is the Bugatti Chiron road legal?

It’s like making Tom Cruise wear a Jester’s hat in Mission Impossible. It’s somewhat distracting and once you notice it, it’s hard to see anything else! So, unfortunately, US customers can’t quite enjoy the lines of this thing of beauty as much as our European friends. Or can we? More on this later…

Why were these changes to the Chiron necessacary?

To be able to comply with US federal requirements, car manufacturers need to adhere to certain standards. Unfortunately, the Chiron falls foul of a couple of these standards. You see, for every car that is sold in the United States, federal bumper standards apply. For instance, let me share what some of these rules actually are:

Is the Bugatti Chiron road legal?
Bugatti Chiron
Matthew Lamb [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Firstly, the construction of the bumper must be from rubber, plastic, steel or aluminum and is attached to both the front and the rear of a car. The purpose of it is to absorb some of the shock during an impact which will reduce the damage to the car and also the thing (be it another car, a person or whatever) that it hits.

These bumpers are primarily designed to absorb the damage in low-speed impacts, such as around 5 mph and help to provide protection to some of the important components of a car such as the lights, cooling (such as the front fan), exhaust, fuel, etc.

The law states that it is intended to provide absorption for slow speeds such as a 5 mph impact into a car that is parked and is of similar mass. The protection this gives must be from 16 – 20 inches higher than the surface of the road. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the whole width of the car (as is the case of the Chiron) but it does need to provide this protection.

For further information on this, do take a look here (opens in a new window).

Can these rear bumpers be removed from the Chiron?

Technically, the bumpers can be removed from the back of the Bugatti Chiron. The bumpers have exposed screws, which is somewhat unusual for a car of this quality…or is it? Having the screws exposed means that they could be removed by anyone. So, would it be possible for the new owner to remove them as soon as they bought the car? Well, yes. Now I couldn’t, of course, recommend that owners did this but if it was me? Having just spent around 3 million dollars on a new car maybe I’d prefer the fine you get from the Polic rather than driving around with those large rubber things stuck on the back!

What’s so special about the Bugatti Chiron?

Oh, there are many things that are special about the Chiron. Would you expect anything less though from Bugatti? The Chiron has an 8 liter (yes, 8!) W16 engine that produces 1,500 PS, around 1,500 hp. It can get to 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds, will reach 249 mph in 32.6 seconds and has its top speed limited to 261 mph as there are no road-tires that can currently handle the energies that would be transferred through them at this speed. To go any faster than this, you need to use a special key that will unlock the higher velocity if this wasn’t quite fast enough for you.

Then, there are the somewhat special services that you need to have. When I say ‘special’, what I actually mean is, ‘expensive’. Your annual service will set you back about $20,000. Sometimes more. Insurance will depend on your age and experience but regardless, will cost you as much as a small house every year. Tires for the Chiron’s predecessor (the Veyron) would require changing every 2,500 miles and cost in the region of $30,000, however, the Chiron might be a little less than this.

To own and drive a Bugatti Chiron is to say that you’ve done pretty well for yourself and you certainly don’t have any financial problems! I wish we could get all the owners of Chiron’s in a room and just ask them all, ‘what do you actually do?’ – I just don’t understand how people can afford these cars!

What other supercars required changes for the US market?

The Bugatti Chiron isn’t the first supercar/hypercar that has had to have changed in some way to accommodate US regulations. Usually, or should I say, ‘always’, it is to the detriment of the physical appearance. Take the Lamborghini Countach. This was/is an iconic supercar for so many of us during the 1980s and mainly because of its appearance. It just looks fast. Well, at least it did in Europe. To be able to accommodate the US market, Lamborghini had to stick a monstrously ugly front bumper on it – it sucks and ruins the looks in an instant.

Lamborghini Countach US Spec
Lamborghini Countach (US spec)
Mr.choppers [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Then, you could look at the McLaren F1. A 1990s supercar that is capable of ~250 mph and a 0-60 of just over 3 seconds. Once again, the US version was touched with the ugly stick with two front bumpers forced under the headlights. It is such a shame. There are other cars that aren’t even allowed in the US, such as the iconic Jaguar XJ220S, the classic Lotus Elise S1, and 340R as well as the TVR Tuscan.

Lotus Elise S1
Lotus Elise S1
Brandon Lim [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

I can’t quite afford the Chiron, any other options?

Well, if you can’t quite afford the real thing, I do have another option for you. The Bugatti Chiron Lego model is surely the very next bet! Actually, joking aside, this is actually a top-end bit of kit and don’t pretend you’d be buying it for one of your kids as we both know that’s not going to be the case! I haven’t managed to convince anyone to buy this for me just yet, but I’m still working on it ­čÖé

Summary

It’s always a shame when boring laws get in the way of things that are so beautiful. There should be some kind of an exception to these laws when it comes to these types of cars. I mean, if you want to stick a couple of extra bits of rubber to the back of a Honda Civic, then be my guest! I probably won’t notice. But cars such as the Bugatti just weren’t meant to look like this and you can imagine the frustration the original designer feels. Fortunately, at least with the Bugatti, you can take them off – but obviously, you wouldn’t do this on public roads… ­čÖé

Matt Pettitt

Since I've been able to walk I think I've had a preference to be sitting between four wheels instead of standing on my two legs! I've owned many different cars in my life. A 1964 purple Beach Buggy, 1967 VW Baja Bug, 1973 V8 Land Rover, an S1 Lotus Elise, an S2 Lotus Elise and an S2 Lotus Elise Sport 190. A Porsche Boxster 3.5S and now a Lamborghini Gallardo. I've learned a lot in this time and this site is my outlet to share everything I know about my favorite subject...SUPERCARS!

Recent Content

© 2020 Copyright Supercar Pro