Bugatti doesn’t make new cars very often. There was a gap of nearly 11 years between the first-ever Veyron(2005) and the unveiling of the Chiron(2016). There have been plenty of variations and special editions in between them including an open-top Veyron, but not a different car. But the French carmaker has been a bit more active lately. This time it has taken a leaf out of the book of the Italian supercar makers and built a very special one-of-one model called the Bugatti La Voiture Noire.
The literal English translation would be the Black Car but it is much more than that. It is a modern-day homage to Jean Bugatti’s personal Type 57 SC Atlantic that was lost during the World War II years. The Voiture Noire gives the impression of an elongated body with its elegant lines especially with the deep black gloss finish for the carbon fibre body. Bugatti designer Etienne Salome said “We worked long and hard on this design until was nothing that we could improve. For us, the coupé represents the perfect form with a perfect finish.”
Each angle of the Voiture Noire showcases Bugatti’s excellence at handcrafted coachbuilding that can be installed on existing chassis designs. The most famous example from the brand’s early years was the Atlantic GT based on the Type 57 – a grand tourer that could do more than 220kph, more than 80 years ago. The Type 57 was intentionally designed by Jean Bugatti(son of founder Ettore Bugatti) to be suitable for a variety of body and engine configurations.
Unfortunately, Jean died tragically in an accident in 1939 at around 30 years of age. The Bugatti brand now celebrating its 110th year has built a fitting tribute to Jean’s most famous creation, the Type 57 SC Atlantic. Only four were ever built with different specifications detailed by each customer. The second car was used by Jean Bugatti himself and some of the company’s GP drivers among his friend list. Three of the four coachbuilt GTs still exist today while the reality of Jean’s car is a mystery. Most theories suggest that it disappeared just before the German invasion of Alsace.
The Voiture Noire is a tribute to that missing work of art. With it, Bugatti has built a new automotive treasure, possibly the most timeless hypercar design. I say hypercar for what Bugatti calls a grand tourer because it has the same heart as the Chiron — a W16 quad-turbo 8.0-litre engine that puts out 1479bhp and 1600Nm. From a design perspective, the Chiron is made to look boyish when compared to the visual presence of the Voiture Noire. The redesigned front end, the fin-like design down the middle from the bonnet to the tail to pay tribute to the Type 57 SC Atlantic and even the reworked rear end with the six tailpipes make for an outstanding visual package. Bugatti did not give us a peek at the car’s interior when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show but expect it to be a lot different from the “standard” Chiron or Divo. The “La Voiture Noire” is so epic that Bugatti hasn’t finished building the road-spec version yet, saying it would take up to two and half years more to complete the project in its entirety.
Some cynics may call it a Chiron with a pretty body kit but it the “La Voiture Noire” is so much more than that. It is about elegant design, incredible performance and true exclusivity. While Bugatti quoted a list price of €11 million before taxes, company president Stephen Winkelmann said the La Voiture Noire was sold for €16.5 million (after taxes). That makes it the most expensive new car in the world, a few million ahead of the not-as-pretty Rolls-Royce Sweptail.
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