A breathtaking sculpture, perfect in form and entirely in black – the La Voiture Noire. This one-off was created exclusively for a Bugatti enthusiast within the space of two years. A piece of automotive haute couture will now soon be delivered following extensive development work and testing.
“With the completed 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 fiber 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.” A pioneering spirit, a passion for perfection, and a desire to push one’s own boundaries, again and again, have characterized Bugatti since the company was founded more than 110 years ago.
The name “La Voiture Noire” has a particular ring 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 the most perfect 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. It is now considered the automotive equivalent of the Amber Room, one of the greatest mysteries of the automotive world, and as a vehicle of indescribable value.
The idea for this homage came to Design Director Achim Anscheidt more than 20 years ago, but years passed until it became possible to realize this unusual project. “We were rather in awe of the idea of developing the 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,” explains Achim Anscheidt.
The fascinating, sculptural, and commanding appearance of this black automobile which disappeared is forever unique. Jean Bugatti had a real flair for shapes and developed saloons and coupes of dramatic beauty. With the Atlantic, Jean Bugatti created a masterpiece. For the reinterpretation, the designers had to cast their minds back and seek to understand the automobile, the bygone times, the technology, the materials, and the creators – and then update this work to the 21st century.
Minimalist coupe of impressive beauty
The La Voiture Noire is 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 centerline, 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. A unique sense of drama is generated by reducing the essentials and the teasing out of this essence of beauty and elegance from the surfaces.
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. This gives the La Voiture Noire its incomparable coupe shape.
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. “The La Voiture Noire is the ultimate dream car for long distances such as a drive from Molsheim to Milan. The combination of perfect beauty and powerful drive culminates in this one-off as a declaration of love for the automobile,” explains Achim Anscheidt.
In spite of its uniqueness, Bugatti developed the coupe just as elaborately as its other hyper sports cars in just two years. Every new part had to pass the strict Bugatti testing and quality procedures, was measured, and was put through its paces time and again before finding its place in the vehicle. 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 which requires perfect coordination. “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, who is the Head of Coachbuilding Projects at Bugatti.
The extended wheelbase and the newly developed bodywork result in new aerodynamics and new handling which is worthy of a grand tourer – powerful, fast, and exceptionally comfortable. “With the La Voiture Noire, we are paying our respects to our long tradition, to France, and to Jean Bugatti’s creative work,” says Stephan 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 eleven million euros (before tax).