It is, of course, a generally acknowledged fact that the Bugatti Veyron is a pig of a car to drive. Experts agree that the infamous so-called supercar handles worse than a nitro-charged Mk I Fiesta on diesel oil. Whichever fools designed this two-tonne bad joke on wheels should be taken out and slowly flayed in front of their young children with Steelers Wheel playing loud.
All the same, it’s hard to see how car dealer Andy House of Lufkin Texas managed to drive his Veyron into the Galveston Bay Salt Water Lagoon in 2009 (see previous story) shortly after borrowing $1m from a friend to buy it and insuring it with Philadelphia Indemnity for a cool $2m.
House claimed it was all due to a morbid terror of harming pelicans, a bird revered as a symbolic embodiment of Christ’s Passion and the Eucharist due to the biologically mistaken view held by Medieval Christians that, when fish and crustaceans and all that other junk that seabirds normally eat is in short supply, pelicans will peck open their own chest and feed their chicks on blood, thus replicating (near enough) Jesus sacrificing himself with a view to expunging the manifold sins of mankind.
When a pelican “suddenly appeared out of nowhere”, as they generally do in incidents leading to insurance claims, he instinctively swerved to avoid it, sending his automotive pride and joy plunging into the salty shallows of the bay. Unbeknownst to House, however, a pair of amateur car enthusiasts travelling parallel to the ill-fated Veyron (one of just 300 ever constructed) were droolishly filming its stately passage (“I’m pretty sure it’s a Lambo, Man!”).
The footage they captured – since viewed millions of times over on YouTube (mostly by Philadelphia Indemnity’s legal counsel) – failed to provide evidence of any pelicans in the vehicle’s path as it turned gently off the road traversed 40 yards of grass verge and lifeboated out into the lagoon, coming to rest knee-deep in its salty waters.
When recovery man Gilbert Harrison arrived on the spot he noted that the stranded House “took the loss in his stride” but had inadvertently neglected to turn off the Veyron’s engine off for around 15 minutes after the incident until it finally sputtered to death of its own accord. Doubtless firmly convinced that the evidence all points one way, Philadelphia Indemnity sued House for attempted fraud.
But could these apparently damning circumstances perhaps support a different and far from damning interpretation of Mr House’s actions? Was the alleged pelican invisible to other onlookers precisely because it was not a literally pelican of the flesh but a spiritual pelican visible only to Mr House and sent as a sign that he should turn aside from the path of shallow materialism and baptise himself anew in the love of our redeemer? Was his apparent tranquility following the incident and his absent minded failure to mitigate engine damage by switching the bloody thing off entirely explicable in terms of the divine rapture that had come upon him and the overwhelming spirit of the lord that then possessed him? Had House quite literally lost control of the Veyron to a higher power? Or would that count as an act of God?
Federal magistrate Judge John R Froescherhoffnerrer presiding over a summary hearing of the case in Galveston last month declined to come down or one side or another of this tricky debate, opining that he was stymied by the ‘quizzical factual circumstances’.
Further hearings will be held.
Former Top Gear man Tiff “Tiffy” Needel reckons “the fastest car in the world is also one of the easier to drive.” But what would he know!