Bugatti’s New Boss Knows His Limits
, 2023-03-11 15:02:04,
From the April 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
Sometime around 2005, I interviewed Spyker CEO Victor Muller and asked him why he started a car company. He replied, “Why does a dog lick [itself]? Because it can.”
He then promised I would soon drive a Spyker, which turned out to be as sound a pledge as the one he made a few years later about saving Saab. The point is, it seems to me that to start a car company, you have to be an ultraconfident maniac. I bring this up for two reasons: First, I’ve been waiting years for a chance to use that Victor Muller quote, and second, I’ve recently been proved wrong. Mate Rimac is not a maniac, ego- or other-wise, even though he’d have a right to be.
At 35 years old, he doesn’t just have a Bugatti—he has Bugatti. Period. And sometimes, he sounds as awed by that as everybody else.
“If my 20-year-old self could see a day in my life now, he’d be amazed but also think some other things would have happened,” Rimac says. Namely, he thought his main enterprise would be building cars, with maybe some technical consulting on the side. It’s turned out the opposite, though. The kid who once motor-swapped a BMW E36 to create a tire-frying EV is now working that brand of behind-the-scenes magic for OEMs. And he’s busy building the Rimac Nevera, which set a new EV production-car record of 258 mph at Germany’s Papenburg test track. I’d like to put one of his SMP_900 motors in an old Bronco—it makes 603 horsepower, has 664 pound-feet of torque, and…
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