Bugatti is a statement car. What does it mean? Apart from wealth and class, it speaks of the adventurous personality and risk-taking nature of the owner. This French beauty was designed for enjoying top-speed rides in luxury. But are Bugattis street legal in the United States where the requirements differ from Europe? That’s a very legitimate question.
Answering the question: is Bugatti street legal, with a simple yes or no doesn’t work here. The short answer is: it depends. It requires an explanation which you are getting in our article.
Why is Bugatti uncommon?
This European label is produced according to the standards adopted by the European Union. Standards and regulations like emissions standards, for example, may differ from country to country and, in the US, even from state to state. This is one of the main reasons why some Bugattis are not street-legal in certain states.
Bugatti is not an environmentally friendly car, and some models’ CO2 emissions reach 516g/km, which is a lot.
Although we should admit that the manufacturer has expressed its commitment to becoming more ecological and less harmful to the planet.
Bugatti Veyron has the worst reputation in this respect. Bugatti Chiron is better but still has a long way to go to the zero carbon footprint goal.
Any European model which tries to become street legal in the United States must comply with the EPA standards. Failure to do that will result in banning the car from public roads.
Apart from emissions standards, there are other requirements issued by DOT that some European models, including Bugatti Chiron and Bugatti Veyron, are struggling to comply with. The so-called safety standards include among other things, specified speed limits.
As an example, Bugatti Chiron Super Sport has a Haldex all-wheel drive system, independent suspension, and a carbon fiber body structure. It’s quite light and has a very high degree of maneuverability. It’s fantastic on a racetrack, but controversial on a public road. If it doesn’t meet the safety standards of a certain state, the car is not allowed on public roads.
Why can’t Bugatti be considered street-legal?
When Bugatti is imported from Europe, it must go through a vetting process. Your Bugatti Chiron Super Sport or Veyron must be registered in the relevant state with the issue of a special permit. For that, your car must comply with the state regulations in terms of safety and emissions standards.
Are Bugattis street legal in the United States after that? No, they are only street-legal in the particular state where you registered the car.
During the vetting process, it can be discovered that your car does not meet the standards established on the territory of the US.
There is something you can do.
You can change some things, making the car compliant with the required standards and regulations.
Let us show you the areas which may cause your Bugatti to be deemed not street-legal in the United States.
The speed limit is a critical issue. Bugatti is the fastest car in the world or one of them. It can easily accelerate to 300 mph. This is considered a potential safety hazard, according to the US laws. As you are aware, the speed limit on public roads in the US is 55 mph. Do the math, and you’ll see why making Bugatti street legal is a debatable issue.
Everyone knows: if your car (for example, Bugatti Chiron Super Sport) has such a capacity, you are going to try it. At least several times. Or even more. That’s why a street legal status can be so problematic.
In the US, environmental legislation differs from state to state. Certain parameters are more restrictive here than in Europe, but in the states like California, they are especially strict. The chances to get the permit for Bugatti Chiron Super Sport are slimmer here.
Bugatti Chiron, for example, releases 516g/km of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is a very high number, so getting a permit to drive such Bugatti models in the Golden State can be very problematic.
We should add that decreasing and potentially eliminating the emissions of carbon dioxide is not unique to California or the US. It’s a global tendency aiming at slowing down global climate change and preventing ecological catastrophe.
One of the factors affecting the top speed of the car is the weight. Sports car manufacturers including Bugatti Automobiles are working relentlessly on making their cars lighter and thus faster. Bugatti rear bumpers, for example, are made of high-grade carbon fiber for that very purpose. That becomes a problem if you plan to drive this car in the US.
Unless you modify your bumpers, you won’t get registered for your Bugatti.
Front light visibility
If you have seen Bugatti models, you know that they all are very slick and pride in the most aerodynamic shape possible. According to US standards, motor vehicles must have lights that you can easily observe when facing the vehicle.
That is a requirement for making the car street legal in the United States. The Bugatti design makes that easy observation debatable thus creating licensing problems for the owner.
Turn signal indicator
Safety standards of some states are rather strict, demanding a possibility for the drivers of other cars to observe the turn signal indicators. The implication is evident: other drivers need to see the intended maneuver to react adequately.
The Bugatti design does not necessarily take that into account, and other drivers may not have a clear visual of the indicator showing a turn. Are Bugattis street-legal in the United States if their light indicators are not visible? In some states, it’s a clear no. Without certain modifications, driving Bugatti will not be road legal.
If you are up for the challenge…
Some folks are happy driving Honda Civic or Kia Forte as they see their vehicle from a utilitarian perspective. But for some of us, a car is more than a vehicle. It’s a manifestation of status or class, or maybe wealth.
For such folks, owning Bugatti can be a matter of principle. And they would go to great lengths to obtain their goal.
If you absolutely need to make your Chiron street legal in the United States, you have a chance to do it. To meet the demands of the EPA and DOT, motor vehicles can be modified.
Here are the common transformations in Bugattis to make them street-legal.
Relocate the turn indicator lights
To make the car street legal, the owners reposition the lights indicating the turn to the front fenders, thus making them more evident for the other drivers. The owners hate doing that as it interferes with the sleek and organic design of the vehicle.
Replace the rear bumper
One more modification affects the design substantially. A rubber bumper must substitute a carbon fiber one. It can be painful, but there’s nothing you can do.
A rubber bumper is considered safer.
Apart from changing the material, you need to position the rear bumper a couple of inches higher according to the US safety requirements. That will help make the vehicle street-legal.
Carbon emission is a big issue
This is an ‘all or nothing’ situation. If the state where you are attempting to register your Bugatti has stern environmental legislation like California, there’s not much you can do. However, in some states, the laws are looser, or there are some loopholes in them, and you can try your luck there.
Buying a European sports vehicle in the US is not only a luxury but also a pain. Foreign manufacturers produce cars like Bugatti in compliance with European and not American standards. At the same time, luxury sports cars manufactured in Europe are absolutely gorgeous and love at first sight happens.
Just make sure that your devotion to your Bugatti is big enough to go through all the trouble and secure the street legal status of your beauty.
Frequently asked questions
Bugatti Veyron is a French car that is imported from Europe. Due to the differences in the US and European safety and environmental standards, Veyron can be deemed street legal after some modifications required by American law.
As the regulations on safety and environment alter in the US and Europe, Bugatti 300+, being a European vehicle, may be non-compliant with American requirements. That’s why it will call for certain modifications to be deemed street-legal in the US. And keep in mind that state requirements for imported vehicle registration differ from state to state.
If you live in Europe, it’s pretty simple. Due to the small amounts of Bugattis produced, you’ll probably be on a waiting list for some time, but that’s the only issue. If you live in the US, you should keep in mind that Bugattis are manufactured according to the European safety features which do not always correspond to the US federal requirements.