It’s been 15 years since the Bugatti Veyron did 407kph—or 253mph—at Ehra-Lessien in Germany, making it the fastest production car in the world.
Of course, it can only do a paltry 380kph, usually. Anyone with enough space to reach (and stop from) 407kph has to insert a special Speed Key in a slot beside the driver’s seat to unlock the Veyron’s full potential.
And even then, the car might not let you—turn the Speed Key and the Veyron’s computers run through a load of checks, only granting access to Top Speed mode if specific conditions are met. Tire pressures even slightly out? No speed for you.
In Top Speed mode, ride height is reduced from 125mm to just 65mm at the front and 70mm at the back, the rear wing is lowered and angled at two degrees, and the diffuser flaps are closed to minimize drag, among others.
On April 19, 2005, only a few months before production was set to begin, test driver Uwe Novacki hit 411kph in the Veyron at Ehra-Lessien. A display at the track suggested he’d managed 427kph—265mph—but it was later proved inaccurate. So, after a load more runs in both directions, the speed Germany’s TÜV Süd entered into the record books was 407kph.
History was made, Mr. Piëch was happy, job done. For a while, anyway...
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.