Bugatti’s latest Chiron-based hypercar pays tribute to the 1936 Type 57 Atlantic

The Bugatti La Voiture Noire is a one-off supercar based on the Chiron. Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, it joins the Divo as a derivative from the already famous Chiron hypercar. The La Voiture Noire is a modern reinterpretation of the Type 57 SC Atlantic from the 1930s and was built to celebrate Bugatti’s 110th anniversary. Only one was made and sold for more than $12 million before taxes.

Unlike the Divo, a car that’s going to be built in 40 units, the La Voiture Noire will remain unique. This vehicle was created specifically for a Bugatti enthusiast that’s "fascinated by the Atlantic," a coupe that the French firm built in the 1930s. Despite the unique bodywork and detailing, the La Voiture Noir remains a standard Chiron under the hood, so performance is similar to the vehicle it is based on.

  • 2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    W16
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    1479 @ 6700
  • Torque @ RPM:
    1180 @ 6000
  • Displacement:
    8.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    2.4 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    260 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    7.3/10

La Voiture Noire History

The $18-Million, One-Off Hypercar That Bugatti is Bringing to Geneva Could Be a Modern-Day Take on the Iconic 57 SC Atlantic
- image 826074
The original car was produced back in 1936

Although it may seem like "la voiture noire" was just invented by Bugatti’s PR team so it can have a fancy name to wave around, it actually dates back to the Atlantic from the 1930s. A version of the Type 57, the Atlantic is actually a generic name given to a run of five vehicles that were called either Aerolithe, Aero Coupe, and Atlantic Coupe, while also featuring 57 S or 57 SC badges.

It all started with the Aerolithe prototype of 1935 and continued with four production models finished in 1936 and 1938. Each of them were created individually for specific customers and had different details. Three or them are still in existence, but the fourth car disappeared before the German invasion of Alsace during World War II and it’s nowhere to be found, despite 80 years of efforts to uncover it.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- image 827346
The La Voiture Noire vanished in 1941

The missing car bears chassis number 57453 and it’s the second Atlantic built. It’s known as the La Voiture Noire, from which the modern supercar draws its name, which translates to The Black Car. Finished in 1936 and showcases at auto shows in 1973, it was driven by Jean Bugatti himself for some time and then given to Bugatti race driver Robert Benoist for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1937. Benoit gave it to another driver a few months later and the car made it back to Bugatti in 1939. The La Voiture Noire remained with the factory until 1941, when it was lost after being placed on a list of cars that were sent to Bordeaux during the French exodus.

That was the last mention about it, making the La Voiture Noire one of the most mysterious vehicle disappearances and an enigma that enthusiasts have been struggling to solve for 80 years.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Exterior

  • All-new design
  • Based on Divo
  • Aggressive front bumper
  • Central fin
  • Six exhaust pipes
  • Carbon-fiber body
2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- image 829143
The windscreen seems to flow seamlessly into the windows at the sides, which makes the glasshouse look like the visor on a helmet

Although it’s based on the Chiron, just like the Divo, the La Voiture Noire boasts a unique exterior. The supercar still features Bugatti’s iconic horseshoe grille, but almost everything else is different or loosely based on the Divo.

Needless to say, both the splitter and the bumper vents are similar to the Divo’s, but both have a more aggressive design. It’s like Bugatti revised the aerodynamics for this model, but there’s no specific info on that. The headlamps are also new. Not only larger than the Divo’s, but they also have a new LED pattern that looks as if it’s made from diamonds. The front hood misses the vents we say on the Divo, and the louvers on top of the front fenders were removed as well.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- image 829144
The vertical windshield wipers simulate the Atlantic's split-window design

A cool feature here is that the windscreen seems to flow seamlessly into the windows at the sides, which makes the glasshouse look like the visor on a helmet. Two features that remind me of the Type 57 Atlantic surface here: the wipers that rest vertically at the center of the windscreen and the fin on the roof. The former simulates the Atlantic’s split-window design, while the latter replicates the Type 57’s central fin that kept the two-piece body together. Because the original Atlantic prototype was made form elektron alloy, which exploded during welding, Bugatti used rivets to keep the body together through a central fin. Production models were made from aluminum, but Bugatti retained the fin, which became a trademark design feature of the Atlantic.

Bugatti made notable changes to the car’s profile too. Compared to the Divo, the La Voiture Noire has a more angular roofline, a notable departure from the Chiron’s C-shaped trademark design, new side skirts, and less aggressive aero elements on the fenders. The wheels are particularly striking thanks to their two-tone design and the fact that the silver paint on the five spokes extends onto the tires.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
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The big diffuser that incorporates four vertical fins and no fewer than six exhaust pipes

The reshaped cabin and side skirts also make the car look a bit longer. Unlike the Chiron and the Divo, which look like full-fledged hypercars, the La Voiture Noire looks a bit like a grand tourer. Oh, it also looks like a squashed Chevrolet Corvette.

The car’s rear fascia is also unique. Although it doesn’t have the Divo’s race-inspired wing and vertical fin, it’s just as aggressive. Responsible for the menacing look is the big diffuser that incorporates four vertical fins and no fewer than six exhaust pipes. This layout is also a tribute to the Atlantic, as is the fin that descends from the roof toward the deck lid. The arched engine hood also simulates the boat-tail design of the Atlantic. The fascia is pretty much a massive grille with a thin red stripe acting as taillights. This stripe extends from one corner to the other in a wave-like pattern. A big wing-like element sits above the diffuser, splitting the rear fascia into three distinct areas and creating a double-diffuser effect.

The carbon-fiber body is painted in gloss black, but the fiber is still visible on some areas, including the diffuser, bumpers, side skirts, and the splitter.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Interior

  • No photos yet
  • Likely based on Chiron
  • Borrows from the Divo
  • Sporty seats
  • Premium materials
2019 Bugatti Divo Interior
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Note: Bugatti Divo interior pictured here.

It's safe to assume that the La Voiture Noire features the Divo's race-inspired seats

Bugatti had nothing to say about the La Voiture Noire’s interior and didn’t publish any photos. We didn’t manage to get inside the car at 2019 the Geneva Motor Show either, so we don’t know what’s going on in the cabin. However, it should be heavily based on the Chiron. Bugatti did the same with the Divo, and I’m pretty sure that this supercar has a similar cabin. After all, every Chiron is highly customizable, so the owner had access to a wide range of options.

It’s difficult to say what might hide behind the doors, but given that the guy who ordered this car is a big fan of the old Atlantic, the interior could draw inspiration from the iconic coupe. My guess is that the owner went for either an all-black leather interior or a combo that combines black and brown, just like the only two black-painted Atlantics had.

2019 Bugatti Divo Interior
- image 792083

Note: Bugatti Divo interior pictured here.

This car should also lack the stowage compartments from the center console and the door panels

But beyond what finishing options the owner might have selected, it’s safe to assume that the La Voiture Noire features the same race-inspired seats, clean dashboard design, and wide center console. As a reminder, the Divo has sportier seats that offer greater lateral support. The flat-bottom steering wheel should also include Alcantara inserts for better grip and larger shift paddles.

If it’s indeed based on the Divo, this car should also lack the stowage compartments from the center console and the door panels. Bugatti removed them to save weight, a reason why the insulation material is also thinner.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Drivetrain

  • Same as the Chiron
  • 8.0-liter W-16
  • 1,497 horsepower
  • 1,180 pound-feet
  • 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds
  • Top speed at 236 mph
2018 Bugatti Chiron High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
- image 732100
The 8.0-liter W-16 engine that cranks out an amazing 1,497 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque

The La Voiture Noire is a standard Chiron under the hood. While it may sound a bit disappointing, we must not forget that power comes from a massive, 8.0-liter W-16 engine that cranks out an amazing 1,497 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque. Compare this to the Type 57’s rating of only 135 horsepower and you’ll quickly understand what Bugatti has been up to since the 1930s.

It’s not the most powerful supercar you can buy though. The new Koegnisegg Jesko can deliver 1,578 horsepower on E85 biofuel, while the SSC Tuatara is rated at an astonishing 1,750 horsepower using the same type of fuel.

There’s no word on performance, but it’s safe to say that the La Voiture Noire is just as quick as the Chiron and Divo. Specifically, it needs around 2.5 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. Because it’s likely based on the Divo, top speed is probably limited to 236 mph, a 25-mph decrease compared to the Chiron.

2018 Bugatti Chiron High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
- image 732102
The La Voiture Noire notably heavier than most modern hypercars

But despite being slower, the La Voiture Noire should be quicker than the Chiron on the race. Again, this is mostly because it’s based on the Divo. According to Bugatti, the Divo lapped the Nardo track eight seconds quicker than the Chiron, an improvement that comes from the car’s improved cornering dynamics, extra downforce, and more aerodynamic body. Granted, the La Voiture Noire isn’t as aero-efficient as the Divo, but it should be more aerodynamic than the Chiron and win a track battle against the car it is based on.

Unfortunately, the La Voiture Noire is just as heavy as its siblings. The Divo is the lightest version of the Chiron yet at around 4,300 pounds and this coupe shouldn’t be lighter than that. This makes the La Voiture Noire notably heavier than most hypercars, which usually tip the scales between 2,700 to 3,300 pounds.

2019 Bugatti La Voiture specifications

Engine W16 8.0 liters
Power 1,479 hp @ 6,700 rpm
Torque 1,180 lb-ft @ 2,000 - 6,000 rpm
0 to 60 mph 2.4 seconds
Top Speed 260 mph (est.)

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Pricing

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- image 827345

The La Voiture Noire is a one-off, and the French firm won’t build another one like it. The unique status explains why Bugatti sold this car for a whopping €11 million before taxes. This converts to around $12.4 million as of March 2019, but word has it the owner actually paid around $18.9 million after taxes. This makes the La Voiture Noire the most expensive new car of all time, exceeding the value of the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta ($17.5 million) and the Rolls-Royce Sweptail ($13 million). That’s three times more than the Divo and six times more than the Chiron. Crazy is an understatement here!

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Competition

SSC Tuatara

2019 SSC Tuatara
- image 793121

SSC is one of Bugatti’s main rivals since 2007 when the Ultimate Aero stole the world speed record for production cars from the Veyron. In 2010, Bugatti recaptured the flag with the Veyron Super Sport, and SSC disappeared as it began working on the Tuatara. Eight years later, in 2018, the Tuatara made its debut in production form. Set to go on sale in 2019, the Tuatara is significantly lighter at 2,750 pounds and features a twin-turbo, 5.9-liter V-8 engine. The mill reportedly cranks out a whopping 1,750 horsepower when using E85 fuel, and it should be able to hit 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds. At the same time, SS claims that its top speed will exceed 300 mph, a massive improvement over the La Voiture Noire. SSC will probably ask around $2 million for each of the 100 examples set to be built.

Read our full review on the 2019 SSC Tuatara

Koenigsegg Jesko

2020 Koenigsegg Jesko Packs More than 1,500 HP and could hit 300 mph Exterior
- image 827827

The Jesko is Koenigsegg’s replacement for the Agera, and it was unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Although it shares some styling cues with its predecessor, the Jesko rides on a new platform and includes many new technologies. Its smart steering wheel features a couple of small touchscreen with haptic controls, while the transmission is a new nine-speed unit with multiple clutches that allow you to change in any gear without losing momentum. Under the Jesko’s hood lurks a revised version of the company’s twin-turbo, 5.0-liter V-8 engine. The unit features the world’s lightest production crankshaft and generates 1,262 horsepower on standard gasoline and up to 1,578 horses on E85 biofuel. That’s 99 horsepower more than the La Voiture Noire, but the Jesko’s 738-pound-foot rating falls behind by 442 pound-feet. The Jesko could hit 300 mph according to Koenigsegg so we might see a record attempt really soon.

Read our full review on the 2020 Koenigsegg Jesko

Final Thoughts

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- image 827342

As a unique and very expensive car, the Bugatti La Voiture Noire is the kind of vehicle we might never get to see on public roads. Its unveiling in Geneva will probably remain its only public outing in front of a big crowd, as these cars are usually displayed at select, exclusive events. Besides, given how much it paid for it, the owner will probably want to keep it in a safe garage as much as possible. The big question here is, can Bugatti justify the massive sticker? Well, this car stands as a solid confirmation that it can. We live in an era when enthusiasts are willing to pay millions of dollars for a unique vehicle and automakers like Bugatti will keep making them. The La voiture Noire is probably just one of many Chiron-based one-offs to follow.

  • Leave it
    • You can’t buy it
    • You can’t even see it!
    • Insane price tag

Further Reading

2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- image 827349

Unique Bugatti La Voiture Noire Pays Tribute to the iconic Atlantic in Geneva

2018 Bugatti Chiron High Resolution Exterior
- image 727469

Read our full review on the 2018 Bugatti Chiron.

The Buggati Chiron Sport Weighs Less, Gets Carbon Fiber Wipers and a New Exhaust Layout; Costs an Extra $1 Million Exterior
- image 772079

Read our full review on the 2018 Bugatti Chiron Sport.

2019 Bugatti Divo Exterior
- image 792360

Read our full review on the 2019 Bugatti Divo.

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