How many standard Chirons has Bugatti built? It’s one of those questions I really only ask myself when I’m soaking in the bathtub for a long time, my phone battery died a long time ago, and my brain is about to shut down. Still, it’s an interesting question in itself. The entire process of ‘unique’ insanely expensive production cars offers a fascinating window into a world where the words ‘custom’ and ‘narcissism’ are no longer indistinguishable.

At the beginning of this century it was exactly the same with the Veyron. You had the Grand Sport and the Vitesse (wasn’t that a Rover?) and the long one in orange and black. And the other with porcelain bits and frills. But how many Veyrons were really “normal”, standard? Not much, if we look at the copies that are occasionally for sale.

Just choose the standard model

I’m pretty sure the rarest Veyron is the base model, because the company caved to billionaires and gave them special editions so they could feel even more special. If, like me, you’re a kid of the ’70s and ’80s, you’ll find this whole special model thing completely confusing, because a special edition car, which was mostly a cosmetic thing here and there and another coat of paint – meant just a thing in those days.

regular bugatti chiron

That car would soon go out of production, and the manufacturer was desperate to sell the last few units before the model was culled to make way for a new modern device.

Ford was very good at it.

Ford was a true master at it. The entry-level Escorts were spruced up with some chunky wheels and a power antenna for the cassette player, and a flashy advertising campaign was launched to attract people. But everyone tried, even BMW packed the latest 6 series with trinkets and called them Highlines.

At least there was some honesty in it. It was an understandable and logical process for everyone involved, manufacturer and consumer. When a car was new it was sold on merit alone, and when it got older and less competitive against its rivals it needed a little more lipstick and a shorter skirt. But I don’t understand how the process works now.

AMG does it too

Take Mercedes. Back in the 1980s, that brand would never have stooped to special edition play, but now it even launches AMG with a ‘limited edition’ version. I find it disconcerting.

Viewed through my 1980s glasses, this simply says: “We’re having trouble selling this new model and have so little confidence that people will want it that we’re already diligently fixing it up and spraying it with some stupid paint.” . A marketing message that is presented even more negatively: I can hardly think of it.

Ask yourself this question: the really cool cars, how many of them have special editions? 36 Ferrari 250 GTOs were built, and that was it. There aren’t fourteen left that were sprinkled with some silly color and called ‘Ravioli’. There is only GTO. I suspect this simply means that the ultra-rich were less insecure at the time: they didn’t have to prove their GTO was a little more special than everyone else’s.

Hopefully the last Chiron is quite normal

Because that’s what it’s all about: being able to affirm that your car is the best. Imagine being so full of yourself that you find it necessary to have just a little more than someone else who also spent 2.5 million on a car… Hopefully the last Chiron Bugatti built is perfectly normal, especially very unremarkable. Or, they could at least spray paint him light blue and put a ‘Bonus’ sticker on his butt.