There is a saying that “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” but would you say the same thing about a car? If it looks like a Bugatti and you can drive it around town, is that enough? Take a look at the photo of the car below:
This car, the spitting image of a Bugatti, is currently for sale with the asking price of $79,000.
If that seems like a lot of money, realize that the list price for a new Bugatti Veyron is anywhere between $1.7 and $2.7 million, depending on the trim. And since there are only 300 Bugatti Veyrons in existence, your chances of landing a brand new one are slim.
So, what is the catch? The Bugatti for sale on eBay is a replica car (sometimes known as a kit car, or a rebody car), hand-made by Mike Duff in Florida. The car is actually a modified 2002 Mercury Cougar two-door sport coupe. From the description:
The body is made of composite and fiberglass with a one inch tubular steel frame glassed into it. This one inch tube frame is welded to the donor car which makes the entire thing solid as a rock! … The car has a nice reliable 2.5 L V6 motor and Ice cold AC. … There are custom wheels and tires installed, 20 inch staggered. This car drives very smooth with the 20 inch wheels. I get so many questions asking how fast is the car. My best reply is fast enough. It is not a rocket ship, If you are a motor head you can install a larger motor, but I do not do that kind of work. … The seats are even modified stock cougar parts as well, Just everything has been recovered in a real leather, Leather seats, Leather headliner, Leather trim on the carpet, Leather Dash.
When I spoke with Mike about why he would go about creating a car like this, his answer was surprisingly touching and interesting. Mike has been working in different shops on more than nine different styles of rebody cars. Before the “Cougatti” (his term), Mike worked on a Porsche Carrera GT, and most recently a Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. While the Lamborghini kit car was great, Mike had an addition to his family shortly after finishing the car: a very little girl. With no way to fit his growing family into the two-seater, he decided to work on something that would be more accommodating.
Enter the 2002 Mercury Cougar. The Cougar has the same wheelbase as the Bugatti, but, most importantly, it has a backseat. Mike was not concerned with recreating the large engine power of the Bugatti “because, of course, it is illegal to go that fast anyway.” [Editor's note: The Bugatti is fast. Last year the Veyron SuperSport hit a new production car land speed record of 267 mph.]. He fabricated the rear window of the Cougar to take the place of the engine compartment of the Bugatti, allowing room for rear seats.
I asked him why he works so hard on these cars, which look so much like the genuine article he even gets followed around by folks who want to take pictures. His answer:
Yes, this was a lot of work and I do this because it is my passion. It is very hard to sell the car for enough money to make a great profit, however I treat the project like a savings account. I build each one of my projects to eventually sell and start another. The attention this Cougatti is getting has really blown me away. I have met so many unique and fun people because everyone knows someone who has some sort of cool car or collection and they all want to just get the scoop if possible by talking to the driver. So many people tell me they never thought they would get to see a Bugatti, when I inform them they still have not they have a hard time believing it.
As for his plans for the future, he hopes to move away from doing replica cars and start creating his own car styles. Mike says, “I want it to be a very futuristic car that looks like it could not be built because I love a challenge.”
Who knows? Early concept car-maker Harley Earl changed the way we think about cars forever. Perhaps Mike can do the same.