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When Ettore Bugatti designed his first Bugatti in 1909, he had an unbending motto: “If it is comparable, it is no longer Bugatti”. For over a century, Bugatti has built its legacy on this foundation, and their latest automobile extravagance unveiled this summer in Geneva, toes the same line. The Bugatti La Voiture Noire is an ode to Jean Bugatti’s (founder Ettore’s son) iconic all-black Type 57SC Atlantic line from 1934, and comes with the heftiest price tag a production vehicle has ever had – €11 million (approximately US$12 million). Apart from its classic Bugatti DNA and caliber, what really makes this car so extravagant and the most expensive vehicle in motoring history? Here’s the answer.

Geneva International Motor Show
The Bugatti La Voiture Noire pays homage to the original Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic.

There’s no such thing as an affordable Bugatti, the Noire does come with justifiable reasons. The ‘La Voiture Noire’ literally translates to ‘the black car’, and takes very subtle design cues from  the 57SC Atlantic line from 1934, a 4-piece bespoke Bugatti veteran, lost to the World Wars. As a part of the car’s allure, it’s been crafted out of carbon-fibre and finished with a deep black gloss that shows the material’s weave, and only a sparse amount of chrome trim breaks up the darkness. Naturally, carbon fibre is an extremely exotic material and comes with a profound manufacturing procedure. Sharing similar structural integrity with a diamond, it’s ultra-lightweight, stronger than steel, and also used in building million-dollar vehicles like airplanes and space shuttles.

Bugatti La Voiture Noir
A ‘1 of 1’ Bugatti La Voiture Noir

While Bugatti claims that this vehicle is handcrafted, there are so many more details that separate the Noire from the rest of the fleet. Take for instance, the headlights – they’re essentially clusters of small LEDs encased in glass that elegantly fit onto the carbon fibre base. Triangular perforations on the hood’s twin scoops match the pattern on the engine cover, and it has very small slits hidden at both ends, echoing the vents at each end of the headlights. The two-tone wheels use Bugatti’s 3D-printed brake calipers. All these tiny handmade details, certainly bump up its price tag.

Hand-crafted carbon-fiber body

There’s no way of being certain about how much Bugatti’s engines cost but guessing by its specs, they are spectacularly high and can dwarf even the best sports cars we have today. The car cages a monstrous 8.0-L Quad Turbocharged W16, that can effortlessly churn out power to match 1500-1600 horses. That’s 0-60 in mph in less than three seconds. Having a 100-horsepower more than the speed-ranking Chiron, the La Voiture Noire won’t be shy of breaking its 261-mph record, making it the world’s fifth fastest production car too.

Iconic six-exhausts to handle the W16’s fury

Other key highlights include a straight-six exhaust; the rear end, which bears a massive grille for engine breathability; and a sleek end-to-end LED taillight. Bugatti hasn’t officially shown us the inside of the car, but they’ve said that it has “the comfort of a luxury limousine” and is “the most elegant and fastest way to travel”.

The new Bugatti 'La Voiture Noire' alongside the 1943 Type 57SC Atlantics
The new Bugatti ‘La Voiture Noire’ alongside the 1943 Type 57SC Atlantics

So, the Bugatti La Voiture Noire has two major factors that give it its exorbitant price tag – its handcrafted carbon-fiber body and hefty engine. And besides these two, the extreme attention to detail does count for something, right? As of today, there’s just one Noire that’s been produced and it’s reportedly owned by Real Madrid’s hunter, Cristiano Ronaldo. Both apexes, in their respective fields of work.

All images: Courtesy Bugatti

Mikhail Gomes
Senior Features Writer
A watch aficionado, Gomes also enjoys learning about fine whiskies, and one day hopes to establish his own menswear label. At Lifestyle Asia India, he writes on watches, menswear, auto and tech.