Watch: Bugatti Veyron vs. Turbo BMW E34 M5 Drag Race

The Bugatti Veyron is truly a feat of engineering, with 16 cylinders and four turbochargers. It’s one of the most expensive and exclusive vehicles anywhere in the world. But no matter how fast a car is, there’s always something else out there with the potential to beat it. In this case, the upstart isn’t just any old BMW sedan, but an E34 M5 upgraded with a massive turbocharger.

The Bugatti Veyron is an automotive marvel

Bugatti Veyron
Bugatti Veyron | Photo by Martyn Lucy via Getty Images

The Veyron was commissioned by former VW Chairman Ferdinand Piëch. Aside from being an automotive engineering genius himself, he was the grandson of another: Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. Having just orchestrated the purchase of Bugatti, Piëch was in the process of steering the revival of the brand in the late 1990s.

Originally, the plan was an 18-cylinder engine, but ultimately a 16-cylinder layout was chosen. With VW’s top engineers at the helm, it employed concepts from the unique narrow-angle VR6 and W8 motors. Engineers combined two W8 engines using a common crankshaft, birthing a highly unconventional W16. Since that wasn’t quite enough for a Bugatti, they also added four turbochargers for good measure. In total, the original Veyron engine produced 987 hp running through a full-time Haldex AWD system.

“The ideas of the outstanding engineer Ferdinand Piëch in 1997 were a testament to a brilliant mind. As well as his incredible concept of a powerful engine, he was also the driving force behind the resurrection of the Bugatti brand at its original site, the French city of Molsheim,” said Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti, of the car’s development.

Any E34 M5 is faster than it looks, but especially if its turbocharged

E34 BMW M5
E34 BMW M5 | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

With a BMW Motorsport-derived inline-six, the E34 M5 is definitely no slouch in factory form. However, based on MotorTrend’s recorded 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds, it normally wouldn’t stand a chance against a Veyron. According to Road & Track, Swedish tuner AG i Norrköping upgraded the M5 below with a turbocharger, to the tune of around 900 hp. That explains its mysterious ability to keep up with one of the world’s fastest hypercars.

Judging by the diameter of said turbo, and the reinforcements welded between the valve cover and intake, there’s a serious amount of boost at work here. The Bimmer also has a slight weight advantage at roughly 3800 lbs vs the Bugatti’s 4000 lb curb weight. Without the benefits of AWD, however, low-speed traction is clearly an issue for the boosted M5.

The sleeper BMW surprises the Veyron

BMW vs Bugatti drag race | GTBoard.com via YouTube

It’s clear immediately that the BMW is far from stock, with the signature wail of a turbocharged straight-six. With enough money and elbow grease, big power is quite easily attainable with a stout engine to work from. Longevity for the motor and putting all that power to the ground are much greater challenges.

Final thoughts

Sleeper cars with epic and unexpected power are one of the great joys of car culture. Everyone expects a Bugatti Veyron to be fast, and essentially untouchable. But this boosted M5 proves that it doesn’t take millions of dollars to build a hypercar rival in a straight line. Thousands maybe, but not millions.

RELATED: The BMW 2002 Turbo Was the Original Boosted Bavarian