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Bugatti La Voiture Noire: Geneva 2019

Bugatti pays tribute to Type 57 SC Atlantic with most expensive one-off car of all time

By Dafydd Wood / Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Now this is more like it. While Bentley celebrates its centenary with a couple of trim pieces and some green paint, fellow VW Group resident Bugatti is showing them how it's done. To mark its 110th anniversary, the manufacturer has released a Chiron-based homage to its legendary Type 57 SC Atlantic. Dubbed 'La Voiture Noire', the one-off creation pays tribute to the original car of the same name.

That was a model designed by Jean Bugatti, son of company founder Ettore, only four of which were ever built. With the whereabouts of just three known today, it has become one of the most valuable classic cars in the world - fitting then that its namesake is said to demonstrate Bugatti's "perfect command of handcrafted coachbuilding" while representing "another pinnacle in the history of the automobile".

Of course, it's easier to create bespoke birthday presents to yourself when you have customers like former VW boss Ferdinand Piech, widely believed to be the unnamed "Bugatti enthusiast" willing to drop a cool €11m (€16.7m after taxes) in order to have the one-off machine commissioned. And what a thing it is.

The changes are most visible at the rear where the Chiron's recessed vents, straight light bar and dual exhaust have been replaced with a more curvaceous, flowing design featuring flared haunches, a swooping engine cover and six enormous tail pipes. Those aren't just for show, either; the Voiture Noire's 8.0-litre W12 engine may not produce any more power than standard, but it hardly needs to when 'standard' is 1,500hp and 1,180lb ft of torque.

The front end is extended, mimicking the Type 57's prolonged bonnet, the windscreen flows seamlessly into the windows "like the visor on a helmet", while a dorsal seam similar to that of the Atlantique runs the full length of the car, even incorporating the windscreen wiper.

Every single panel on the car is crafted from high gloss black carbon fibre, while there are new designs for the headlights and wheels, though the interior remains under wraps.

As you might imagine, there are some choice quotes from Stephan Winkelmann, who said: "Our history is both a privilege and a responsibility - the responsibility for continuing the Bugatti heritage into the future. With "La Voiture Noire", we are paying homage to our heritage and bringing speed, technology, luxury and aesthetics forward to a new era" before going on to describe the car as "a feast of aesthetics." Those aesthetics won't be to all tastes, of course, but from where we're sitting, it's hard to disagree with Mr Winkelmann.

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