Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

"Do you realize more people have been to outer space," sputtered my friend Dave, "than have driven that car?" Of all of the reactions I got when word leaked out I'd be testing the brand-new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, his was my favorite. Dave's observation was closer to the truth than he realized. Though nearly 500 men and women have passed through the earth's exosphere, only a few dozen have sat at the wheel of the world's fastest convertible, a dual-clutch speed-demon capable of hitting 253 miles per hour and reaching 60 in 2.7 seconds.

Of course, I'd never be able to afford a Bugatti on a journalist's salary. With its $2.1 million sticker price, a Grand Sport purchase is equivalent to plunking down the plastic for seven Lamborghinis. But that didn't take away from the fact that for the better part of a July afternoon, on the streets of Greenwich, Conn., the car would be mine.

There was just one hitch: it was raining on the day of my test drive. I was heartened to learn that in the shoebox-size trunk was a 40-pound, rectangular umbrella which, when opened, fits snugly above the car's cockpit. Snap the brolly into place, unscrew its handle and in minutes I had myself an instant soft-top.

So I didn't get wet. But sadly, taking a beefy roadster onto the serpentine and slippery roads of Fairfield County did not quite add up to a match made in maxed-out-speedometer heaven. Where was the Arizona desert when I needed it?
I consoled myself that at least I'd experienced a four-wheeled luxury few drivers will ever taste. Would I endorse the Grand Sport? There's no question that for anyone seeking a money-is-no-object, mid-life-crisis elixir, a car that can travel faster than most single-engine airplanes can fly, there's only one choice. And though it doesn't have a cup holder, remember: it does come with that nifty umbrella.