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Yes, You Can Buy a Street-Legal Bugatti In The U.S. 

But you’re going to have to make it a little uglier first

Audrey Davis 
September 27 2021
It’s not like a Bugatti was ever going to be the most practical choice of vehicle, but that comes with the territory. Anybody who has the means to buy a supercar like a Bugatti, Lamborghini, or McLaren does so with the knowledge that it’s not really a daily driver – it’s more like a high-octane, once-in-a-blue-moon joyrider. So, wouldn’t it be a shame to have a Bugatti on your hands and not be able to seek out the thrill of driving it?

Bugatti Chiron: More Cars/Flickr

Oddly enough, the question of whether you can or cannot drive a Bugatti in the United States comes down to a few small, seemingly insignificant details. The standard, French-made version of Bugatti’s current flagship model, the Chiron, is not street-legal in the U.S. So, what’s the hold-up? Fuel economy seems like the most likely issue: although it’s difficult to test supercars and hypercars for real-world mpg, the Chiron is estimated at a dismal 14 mpg on the highway. So, while the car’s enormous, quad-turbocharged W16 engine is certainly an engineering marvel, it’s also the exact type of gas-guzzler that the government may be phasing out in the coming decade.  

Anotha’ one!: Wiki Commons 

But believe it or not, the Bugatti’s precarious status on American roads has nothing to do with gas mileage or fossil fuels. According to our stringent federal bumper standards, the car is simply not safe enough, meaning any would-be American owners must purchase a modified version with rubber attachments. Somehow, a rule that’s been around since the 1970s is dictating the body styling on one of the world’s most coveted supercars, but American Bugatti drivers don’t have to worry about much beyond that. 

Despite plenty of rumors to the contrary, no, owning a Bugatti is not going to get you in trouble with Uncle Sam – only the street-legal version is sold here. However, if your main interest in these cars is aesthetics, you’re out of luck. The rubber wedges which are used to solve the bumper issue look terrible, although they don’t affect the vehicle’s overall performance.  

An upsetting addition: Motor1com/Twitter 
First enacted in the activist era of the early 1970s, the bumper requirement was among the many new automotive regulations meant to address the complaints of consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, perpetual presidential candidate, and author of Unsafe at Any SpeedThe law, last updated in 1982, states that bumpers on American cars must be able to withstand a top impact speed of 2.5 mph. So, in the interest of safety, Bugatti drivers will have to swallow their pride and get used to modified cars – it doesn’t look like this standard is changing any time soon.

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