Bugatti La Voiture Noire: A modern and expensive tribute to Type 57 Atlantic

Published on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Updated on Friday, July 19, 2019.
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One of the stars at the Geneva Motor show 2019 was announced in advance: Bugatti was to present a modern version of the Type 57 SC Atlantic, produced in only 4 models 1935 onward. On the stand, everyone awaited the unveiling with some impatience until La Voiture Noire was revealed and a wind of disappointment flew through the spectators.

The Type 57 SC Atlantic, designed by Jean Bugatti, son of Ettore, combined grace and power and accomplished the feat to offer performances, worthy of a racecar under a delicious exterior made for elegance competitions. La Voiture Noire which paid its tribute, didn’t manage to repeat this feat.  

A strange name : « La Voiture Noire »

Let’s begin with the name: the car is black, just like the Atlantic was at the time, the marketing experts decided to remain sober with a “French name in the text”, La Voiture Noire, surely thinking that using Moliere’s language will make it classy. The comparison with French luxury can also be found elsewhere, namely Guerlain whose star perfume is today known as “La Petite Robe Noire”. The foreign public might have been responsive to the name, but the French were surprised with it. Actually, it’s a little « snobbish », despite the attempt for “historic” justification: the 4th model of the 57 SC Atlantic, Jean Bugatti’s personal car, was called this way.

One was disappointed with the exterior: of course La Voiture Noire was impressive but the  one was dealing with a modified Divo, to include a few elements of detail of her glorious sister: horseshoe grill which is more prominent and the chisel edge (ingeniously enhanced by the windscreen wiper on the front) indeed reminiscent of the Atlantic but despite distinctive signs, one can find the designs of current Bugatti, the Chiron or the Divo, are themselves the evolution of the Veyron.

A slight nod to the Type 57 SC Atlantic

Everything was properly implemented and rather beautifully designed: No one can deny the work done by Bugatti on this unique model. However, the filiation with Atlantic seemed a little forced and Jean Bugatti’s unique design was never reflected in this Voiture Noire, which was a little grandiose. However, according to Etienne Salome, her designer, the Voiture Noire is “synonymous with perfection through its shape and finishing”. 

Mechanically speaking, she resumes elements which are already seen on the most recent Bug’ but mainly its W16 of 8 liters, developing 1 500 horsepower, nonetheless. La Voiture Noire, with its finishing that was considered “perfect”, her personalized interior, specific black color, makes it a unique model, but it’s not a concept car: she is already sold to “a collector”, one would say modestly. Indeed, it would seem that the limited partner is simply Audi’s then Volkswagen Groups ex-boss, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Ferdinand Pïech.

Ferdinand Piech, the happy owner?

Despite the stylistic disappointment, Piech’s Bugatti was impressive, even so much as through its size, but also a few details like its rear light on just one LED strip, or her rims that evisually xtend on the tires. In terms of performance, radio silence around Molsheim, but not with the price as the brand didn’t hesitate talking about the most expensive new car of the world, which costed 11 million euros, excluding taxes, bottom bill.

If some think that Bugatti is a German brand, as it belongs to the VW group, La Voiture Noire is well and truly produced in Alsace: it’s a French car and just for this, one can take great pride.

 

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