MOLSHEIM - The name “La Voiture Noire” is an emotive one in the automotive world. Ettore Bugatti’s son Jean developed and drove one of just four Type 57 SC Atlantic produced, a vehicle which was arguably the most beautiful and the fastest automobile of its time. Jean named his model La Voiture Noire – the black car. The vehicle disappeared without a trace shortly before the Second World War and it is now considered by automotive historians as the vehicular equivalent of the Amber Room; one of the greatest mysteries of the automotive world, and as a vehicle of indescribable value.
“With the completed 2021 La Voiture Noire, we are demonstrating once again that we develop the world’s most sophisticated hyper sports cars,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. “With its use of visible carbon fibre in jet black, the coupe’s breathtaking sculpture looks especially elegant. It’s a veritable grand tourer that went from being a vision to a reality – a unique project which stands for Bugatti’s full creativity and artistry.”
The idea for this tribute vehicle came to Bugatti design director Achim Anscheidt more than 20 years ago, but years passed until it became possible to realise this unusual project.
“We were rather in awe of the idea of developing a new La Voiture Noire. No other vehicle in the long history of Bugatti has acquired the same legendary status as the Type 57 SC Atlantic and has become so synonymous with the brand. We had a great deal of respect for this historical responsibility as well as for the customer,” he explains.
The 2021 Bugatti La Voiture Noire is said to be a minimalist coupe, much like the Atlantic back then thanks to reducing the essentials, reduced lines, and the absence of a large and dominant rear wing.
The designers reinterpreted the spirit of the historical vehicle and developed a specific shape stylistically and technically speaking. This includes the dorsal seam down the centreline, the extended front section, the clear lines, and the romanticism of the rear.
With great attention to detail, they created a bodywork with a unique surface finish – visible carbon fibre with a clearcoat known as “Black Carbon Glossy”. This generates virtually no reflections, but plenty of tension and drama.
The bumpers are integrated gently into the bodywork while the windscreen appears to merge with the side windows like a helmet visor. The lack of disruptive lines means the surface appears to have been cast in one piece – nothing interrupts the visual flow. This transforms the vehicle’s attitude from a hyper sports car to a grand tourer in our opinion.
In addition, it boasts some extraordinary details. There are more than 25 individually milled lights elements per side in the headlamps – an immense amount of work, even for a one-off.
Each and every cell of the 3D-printed front grille has been honed and examined to ensure they all look perfect together. The rear is dominated by an elegant rear light which for the first time features a single-piece surround with no joints.
Six individual tailpipes serve as a nod to the vehicle’s well-known template. A newly developed parametric design at the front and rear means the body parts appear to be sealed, but they are actually air-permeable.
Bugatti has fitted the interior entirely with grain leather in Havana Brown, basing its choice on the historical model. This natural material contrasts with specially polished and turned aluminium inlays in various locations on the centre console, the centre spine, and the doors. The driving modes can be changed by means of a sophisticated rosewood switch.
In spite of its uniqueness, Bugatti developed the vehicle just as elaborately as its other hyper sports cars in just two years. Every new part had to pass strict Bugatti testing and quality procedures. Extensive simulations were followed by testing in the wind tunnel and on test benches, and then on test tracks and proving grounds covering the entire range of speeds.
Modifications to the bodywork, cooling, thermodynamics, wheels, and wheelbase result in new balance, according to Bugatti.
“Although the La Voiture Noire is a one-off, we spent two years using a test vehicle to develop and test it in all areas like handling and driving safety so that it can be approved,” says Pierre Rommelfanger, head of coachbuilding projects at Bugatti.
“With the La Voiture Noire, we are paying our respects to our long tradition, to France, and to Jean Bugatti’s creative work,” concludes Winkelmann. “At the same time, we are bringing exceptional technology, aesthetics, and extreme luxury into a new age. The La Voiture Noire is at the cutting edge of automotive engineering. It is a sculptural beauty that boasts unique technology.”
The one-of-a-kind has already been sold to a Bugatti enthusiast for R182 192 340,00 (before taxes, or course).