The Black Bess Bugatti Vitesse
With its fifth model in the six-part Les Légendes de Bugatti (Bugatti Legends) Edition, Bugatti has revived the legendary Type 18 Black Bess, which went down in automotive history as one of the first-ever street legal super sports cars.
At the Auto China motor show in Beijing in April the French luxury manufacturer presented in a world premiere the modern interpretation of Type 18, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse "Black Bess". As one of the fastest road vehicles in the world at the time, the Type 18 "Black Bess" is a direct forerunner of today’s world speed record-holding Bugatti Veyron.
As with all models in the Edition, the current Legends model is limited to a run of three vehicles and is available for a net price of 2.15 million EUR. Of the four Legend models already presented, all twelve vehicles have been sold.
"Over the course of its history, Bugatti has not only been responsible for crafting enormously successful race cars but has also created some outstanding road vehicles," notes Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, President of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. "As the fastest road vehicle of its time, Type 18 was in a class of its own. It truly is the legitimate forerunner for the Veyron, and is, therefore, a Bugatti Legend."
The Type 18 was one of the most important Bugattis of the pre-war era, both ahead of its time and in a league of its own thanks to its impressive technical features. As is the case with all of the Legend vehicles, the "Black Bess" is based on the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. With its 1,200 PS, 8 liter W16 engine achieves an unparalleled torque of 1,500 Nm at 3,000–5,000 rpm and can accelerate from 0–100 km in 2.6 seconds. With a maximum speed of 408.84 km/h with the roof down, the Vitesse is the fastest production roadster ever built.
"The "Black Bess" Legend Vitesse is yet another fine example of Bugatti’s innovative power when it comes to creating exclusive automobiles," explains Bugatti Head Designer, Achim Anscheidt. "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."
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.
The body of the "Black Bess" Vitesse is constructed entirely of carbon fiber and, just like its historical predecessor, is painted completely black. The gold-colored accents that make the Type 18 "Black Bess" so unmistakable are reflected in exquisite fashion on the modern Bugatti. For example, some of the Bugatti’s body components are coated in 24-carat gold.
Indeed, this precious material has been used for the striking Bugatti horseshoe, which gleams against the background of the black front grille, creating a truly expressive front view for the Vitesse. This is reinforced by gold-colored stripes that start below the headlights and radiate out over the front wings towards the rear, before tapering off at the end of the door line.
Sporting a similarly brilliant gold finish are the EB logo on the rear of the vehicle and the hub covers the black rims, which also bear the initials of the company’s founder, Ettore Bugatti, in black. And let’s not forget the tank and oil caps, which have been engraved with the "Black Bess" nameplate and elegantly finished with gold paint.
The interior of the "Black Bess" Legend Vitesse has been fully upholstered using the finest leather. The headliner, footwell, seats, elongated center console, and rear bulkhead are bedecked in a light Beige tone, with the dashboard, dash panel, door trim panel, and cowl panel offering a discreet contrast in Havanna.
Clad in red Crimson leather, the steering wheel rim draws a clear reference to the historic Type 18 "Black Bess". This accent has also been picked up and continued in the red decorative stitching on the outer bolsters of the seats and in the seat belts.
The door panels are without doubt one of the car's most impressive details. This is actually one of the most daring projects in the design of the vehicle’s interior. Both panels are upholstered in Havanna leather and bear scenes which depict the historic Type 18 "Black Bess" as well as Roland Garros’ airplane, a Morane Saulnier Type H. These sketches have been hand-painted directly onto the leather - just as the components in luxury vehicles were hand-painted in the early 1920s.
In order to protect the images from abrasion and environmental impacts, both a special new ink and a new impregnation process have been developed. Never in the field of automobile manufacturing have traditional details been implemented so perfectly whilst also upholding the demands placed on quality by modern production standards. This reconfirms Bugatti's strength in innovation. And it is coupled with a strong focus on individuality, as none of the six door panels in the three Legend vehicles is identical.