Perhaps pushing the envelope to determine what the traffic will bear, so to speak? $12.5 million for a passenger car—along with an additional $6 mil for taxes—would indicate as much, as the figurative sticker on this one-off from Bugatti makes it the most expensive new car ever produced. If the valuation that can determine collectability potential has anything to do with simple price-tag one-upmanship, this Bugatti will be the ride of rides for a blasé billionaire. Or so might opine the cynic.
But Bugatti’s reprise is founded in an ideal of history as surely as an ideal of luxury exclusivity. The brand’s narrative complexity arises out of historical referent. Which makes owning a 21st-century Bugatti—for the discriminating buyer, anyway—a means of engaging with that idealism. A crack advertising firm might even associate the degree of meaningful interaction involved with a form of spiritual engagement. Tagline to follow.
In keeping, the $12.5 million La Voiture Noire—‘Black Car’, skip the definite article—which nouveau Bugatti just revealed in Geneva has the 57 SC Atlantic as its historical context, and most potent link yet to the modern-day’s imagined Age of Saturn: pre-WWII cataclysm.
The Atlantic is one of the most desirable automobiles in the world. Only four were produced; made between 1936 and 1938, they became instantly collectible. At present, they are on their way to becoming priceless. Ralph Lauren owns one of the three that survive. Like other striking automotive designs of the era, the architecture was profoundly influenced by aircraft fuselage designs of the era, and it boasted a supercharged engine, and an aluminum body.
The Voiture Noire manages to capture the grace of the original in a contemporary package; as usual, nouveau Bugatti’s artistic-minded design team have neatly reconciled historical relevance and modern tastes. The W16 engine is the same powerhouse used in the Veyron and Chiron, and HP and torque numbers transfer from the Chiron.
The body takes off from the track-oriented Divo while hinting at Bugatti DNA of the distant and recent past. The characteristic, graceful air intakes behind the doors carry over from the Chiron, but the strong curving line that defines the profile of the Chiron has been diminished. The stabilizing fin that longitudinally bisects the Atlantic is present on the Voiture Noire, but subdued, a whispered invocation.
Like all Bugatti models, the Voiture Noire is a romantic combination of perfect touring car and speed monster: a car for all reasons, a car to scale Mount Olympus after reading ‘Metamorphoses’. In other words, an ideal with a poetic foundation to support it. The buyer of the car is unknown, as of now…a ‘Bugatti enthusiast’, according to the press release; that is, one who studies this poetry.