The Boston male's relationship with exotic cars, and a special one named Bugatti.
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is the fastest production car allowed on the road, hitting speeds of up to 267.7 mph.
What is it about guys and cars? Young or old, the faintest smell of gasoline ignites a fire in a primal place within us that warms our very hearts. Perhaps it’s tradition. Just pulling out that dipstick with rag in hand—even if we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for—connects us with our fathers, and our fathers’ fathers, back to a time when communities gathered around to celebrate the newest automobile rolling off the lot. From James Bond’s Aston Martin to the Caped Crusader’s Batmobile, cool wheels have somehow become vehicles to something more in a man’s psyche. Why is it that his day can be brightened by the glimmer of a sports car taking a corner in front of him? Or that the owner of that sports car still has eyes for another set of wheels?
“I don’t know what it is,” says Herb Chambers, pulling out of the Mandarin Oriental garage in his own 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4. “I buy them based on their looks. I love the styling of the cars. I think it’s more like collecting art. They’re beautiful things to look at. Of course, they also run great, too.” Few know the deepest inner desires of the car enthusiast better than Chambers. Since shelling out 15 bucks for a 1949 Ford pickup when he was a kid growing up in Dorchester, he has devoted much of his life to chasing the automotive dream. Now, as the owner and CEO of one of the largest families of car dealerships on the planet, Chambers has helped tens of thousands do the same—“not by selling them a car,” as he says, “but by helping them buy one.”
The 16-cylinder and the four-turbocharger engine.
We’re cruising down Boylston Street at rush hour. The fall light is stretching long shadows across the pavement and, from inside this Batmobile, Boston feels a lot like Gotham. You can see in people’s eyes just how spectacular this sports car is. Before they know why they’re doing it, they have their phones out and they’re snapping photos. Feverishly. Maybe it’s the Bugatti’s dazzling black-on-white paint job or the unmistakable growl of its 1,000-horsepower engine. Or maybe this Bugatti, like the Maseratis, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys that Chambers sells, triggers an element of wonder that’s becoming increasingly elusive today.
“Look at this young kid over here,” he says, nodding to a high schooler whose teeth are getting sunburned because he’s smiling so hard at the sight of these wheels. Chambers shoots him a thumbs-up, and you would think the kid just got the nod to play center field at Fenway.
The stylishly futuristic interior.
This Bugatti is barely legal, the fastest production car allowed on the road. Hitting speeds up to 267.7 miles per hour (the world record), the Bugatti Veyron has outmatched an airplane in a drag race. With only 300 in existence, it fetches upward of $1.7 million, but here on Boylston Street, all the attention it’s getting is priceless.
Six blocks from where we started, while we’re idling at a light, we spot the same smiling kid from back on Boylston Street. He’s standing directly outside Chambers’s window, sucking wind and snapping more photos between breaths. He must have sprinted the whole way to keep up with us. “Hey, mister,” the boy finally says in an awe-shucks kind of way. “I don’t mean to be a pain, but… can you give her a rev?” Chambers smiles. He’d be happy to. And therein lies the true magic of a car. This boy and this man couldn’t be more different, yet the Bugatti became common ground, joining them on a road that neither could fully understand. Herb Chambers Maserati, 531 Boston Post Road, Wayland, 508-358-3500