What makes Miami the leading market for a $2 million car?

It has a 1,001-horsepower engine, its doors are made of carbon fiber and if another sports car passes it at 100 miles an hour, it can rev up from a standstill and shut down the other car at 200 mph in 18 seconds flat.

These are the specs for the Bugatti 16.4L Veyron Grand Sport that salesmen are quoting to deep-pocketed car enthusiasts interested in a street-legal race car with a top speed of 260 miles per hour.

The test car spends much of the winter stationed at Braman Motors in Miami, giving test drives to affluent auto buffs — and potential buyers — from South Florida and Latin America.

Make that very affluent. The Bugatti costs upwards of $2 million, making it the second most expensive production car in the world after the $2.21-million Koenigsegg Trevita, according to a listing by Forbes magazine.

Getting people to spend $2 million on an automobile when they could easily buy prime real estate on Collins Avenue with that kind of discretionary cash is a delicate task, especially during a global economic downturn when extravagance isn't in favor.

"The main question people ask is, 'Why is it so expensive?'" said John Hill, U.S. market manager for Bugatti. "We've really set a new benchmark. It has high-tech materials; it's faster than Formula 1 cars but comfortable enough to drive in the street."

Bugatti, a Volkswagen-owned company headquartered in Molsheim, France, sells about a third of its cars in North America. Another third are sold in the Middle East and the rest go to European buyers, Hill said.

The carmaker expects to produce fewer than 150 Grand Sports — ever.

South Florida has been the leading North American market for the car during the last 12 months, with a number of Latin America buyers choosing to buy Bugatti models at Braman. In addition to the Grand Sport convertible, the carmaker also sells a coupe version of the Veyron 16.4L for about $1.7 million.

Related stories from McClatchy DC