Automotive

Bugatti pays homage to classic Type 18 sports car with new special edition

Bugatti pays homage to classic...
Bugatti shows the new Vitesse Legend next to the original Black Bess in Beijing
Bugatti shows the new Vitesse Legend next to the original Black Bess in Beijing
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Bugatti shows the new Vitesse Legend next to the original Black Bess in Beijing
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Bugatti shows the new Vitesse Legend next to the original Black Bess in Beijing
Bugatti shows the new Vitesse Legend next to the original Black Bess in Beijing
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Bugatti shows the new Vitesse Legend next to the original Black Bess in Beijing
The Black Bess is based on the 1,200-bhp Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse
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The Black Bess is based on the 1,200-bhp Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse
The Black Bess Vitesse has a 25-carat horseshoe grille surround and gold striping around the headlamps
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The Black Bess Vitesse has a 25-carat horseshoe grille surround and gold striping around the headlamps
The Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse "Black Bess"
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The Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse "Black Bess"
The Black Bess Vitesse is the fifth of a planned six Legends editions
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The Black Bess Vitesse is the fifth of a planned six Legends editions
The gold and black exterior is inspired by the look of the original Black Bess
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The gold and black exterior is inspired by the look of the original Black Bess
The horseshoe is covered in 24-carat gold
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The horseshoe is covered in 24-carat gold
The hub covers get some gold paint
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The hub covers get some gold paint
The oil and tank caps have golden Black Bess engraving
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The oil and tank caps have golden Black Bess engraving
More gold painted badging
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More gold painted badging
Badging on the door sills
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Badging on the door sills
Bugatti highlights the interior with artwork
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Bugatti highlights the interior with artwork
Hand paintings on the door panels
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Hand paintings on the door panels
Bugatti uses a special ink and impregnation process for its paintings
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Bugatti uses a special ink and impregnation process for its paintings
Rosewood accents on the shift knob and center console
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Rosewood accents on the shift knob and center console
Les Legendes badging
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Les Legendes badging
The 1913 Type 18 joins the 2014 Black Bess
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The 1913 Type 18 joins the 2014 Black Bess
The Type 18's original owner was aviator Roland Garros
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The Type 18's original owner was aviator Roland Garros
Garros crossed the Mediterranean Sea in the Morane Saulnier airplane
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Garros crossed the Mediterranean Sea in the Morane Saulnier airplane
Bugatti's artwork depicts both the original Black Bess and Garros' plane
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Bugatti's artwork depicts both the original Black Bess and Garros' plane
View gallery - 21 images

It seems the only constant at international auto shows these days is a new Veyron special edition. Bugatti has been unloading these Veyron cosmetic packages one by one, in an effort to keep attracting buyers to the decade-old model. The latest such special edition brings a little more intrigue than the average, recalling what Bugatti calls "one of the first ever street legal super sports cars."

The Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse "Black Bess" is the fifth of six Les Légendes de Bugatti (Bugatti Legends) models. What makes this one particularly interesting is that it honors the Bugatti Type 18, a pre-WWI model that featured a 90-hp 5.0-liter four-cylinder engine and chain drive. Founder Ettore Bugatti raced the car himself and seven examples were built, of which only three exist today. According to the automaker, the car was the fastest road car of its time, reaching speeds of 100 mph (160 km/h).

Bugatti sold the VIN 474 Type 18 to famous French aviator Roland Garros in 1913. The model was sold to Ivy Cummings in 1922, several years after Garros died in WWI. She nicknamed it "Black Bess," after the English racehorse, a nickname that has stuck until this very day. Black Bess was auctioned in 2009, selling for US$3.3 million. Today, it's on display at the Louwman Museum in The Hague, Netherlands.

The "fastest road car" of the early 20th century finds its way into the look and spirit of the fastest road car of the early 21st century. The convertible's carbon fiber body gets a black paint job with a 24-carat horseshoe grille surround and gold-painted highlights, mimicking the black-and-gold look of the original Type 18. The tank and oil caps have "Black Bess" engraving and gold paint.

The Black Bess Vitesse has a 25-carat horseshoe grille surround and gold striping around the headlamps
The Black Bess Vitesse has a 25-carat horseshoe grille surround and gold striping around the headlamps

Inside, the Vitesse Black Bess has a mixture of light beige and "Havanna" leathers. The crimson steering wheel is a reference to the bright-red steering wheel of the Type 18 Black Bess, a color that's repeated in the contrast stitching. The interior also includes gold accents and a rosewood shift knob and center console panel. There's also the typical special edition badging.

Easily the most interesting detail of the Vitesse Black Bess's interior is the artwork depicting the original Black Bess and Roland Garros' Morane Saulnier Type H airplane. These pictures are meticulously hand-painted in the leather of the door panels, using a special ink and impregnation process designed to hold up to the tests of time. Each of the six door panels on the three Black Bess editions is unique from the others.

Hand paintings on the door panels
Hand paintings on the door panels

"We have developed a new process for individually hand-painting the leather in the vehicle's interior, the like of which has never been used before in the automotive industry," explains Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti head designer. "The leather and the ink applied by the designer have been technically developed and processed so that they can withstand the stresses inside the vehicle and fulfill the valid quality requirements demanded by modern day production."

As tends to be the case with Veyron special editions, there are no mechanical enhancements, and the Black Bess relies on the standard Grand Sport Vitesse 1,200-bhp 8.0-liter W16 engine. The Grand Sport Vitesse is capable of attaining 100 mph (62 km/h) in just 2.6 seconds and set a world convertible speed record last year.

Bugatti revealed the Grand Sport Vitesse Black Bess at this week's Beijing Motor Show, where it appeared with the original 1913 Black Bess on loan from the Louwman Museum. Only three examples will be made, each running the standard Legends price of €2.15 million (US$3 million).

Source: Bugatti

View gallery - 21 images
3 comments
steveraxx
Enough already Volkswagen! No aficionado relates to the bombastic creation of yours. Nothing you do will ever relate your car to Bugatti. This is a lesson in branding corporations get wrong. When the original Bugatti men stopped manufacturing cars, that was the end of Bugatti. Volkswagen's attempt to lend itself a sense of romance and or panache is gross. The only benefit has been the restoration of the Bugatti atelier and its environs.
The Skud
steveraxx - stop nitpicking! Just be glad that somebody cares enough about the Bugatti name and history to even think about doing something like this - and has the money and engineering prowess to do so. It might be expensive and vulgar to some eyes, but even Bugatti lovers would admit the originals were a bit 'over the top' in their era. I am very glad also that the inspiring original has survived to be that inspiration, not just a few photographs in a collection somewhere.
steveraxx
Enough already with the endless iterations Volkswagen, you are on the path Pagini has taken. What work was done previously that was at least somewhat relevant is now lessened.