By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
"Have you ever wrecked one of these?" I ask as our burnt-orange Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse bursts onto the Julia Tuttle Causeway like a fireball from Hell. Butch Leitzinger shakes his head. The mild-mannered former racer is Bugatti's official driver, but a better title would be "pilot." With a top speed of 260 mph, the Veyron is more turbojet than Toyota.
"I had one crazy Canadian who tried to," Leitzinger yells over the roar of the 1,200-horsepower engine just behind our heads. "We came up on a 180-degree turn against the mountain, and he steps on the brake and the car goes 'pop' " — Leitzinger turns his hand sideways to show how the car skidded on the ice — "And I think, OK, we're dead."
Instead, the supersmart $2.5 million car righted itself just in time. I squeeze out a nervous grin.
I'm on a test drive, and we head to South Beach because, dammit, I've got a Bugatti for two hours and I might as well impress some chicks.
"Go, Michigan State!" screams a gorgeous blonde wearing a ponytail and eye black. Noticing our confusion, she says, "Your license plate says Michigan. You're here for the basketball game tonight, right?"
When we cross Lincoln Road, it's like taking center stage at Wimbledon. Random strangers yell at us: "Hell yeah!" and "What kind of a car is that?" while snapping photos and touching the car. Two Scandinavian models actually stop and tilt down their sunglasses.
On Fifth Street, a pearl-white Ferrari 458 Spider stops behind us and the driver screams for us to pull over. We duck into a gas station. "What the hell is going on here, boys?" croaks the man, who turns out to be a 54-year-old insurance mogul named Eric Giglione. "This is the most beautiful fucking car I've ever seen. Is this your bad boy?" he asks me. "I bet this baby's got a lot of ugh," Giglione says, performing a hip thrust. "It's all about the pussy, after all."
As I drive us back to New Times HQ, I have one last request.
"Well, that's a first," Leitzinger says as we pull into a Taco Bell drive-thru. I order the cheapest item on the menu: a bean burrito with no onions.
"Are you sure that's all you want?" the dude at the cash register asks when I pull up. "I'd have to sell a lot of tacos to buy that thing!"
Moments later, I step out of the Bugatti and back into my life as a professional journalist whose only flirtation is with poverty.