When Bugatti launched the first “Les Légendes de Bugatti” Edition, we didn’t like the idea as we knew it was just a marketing thing to get rid of all the Veyron models it didn’t sell. Meanwhile, after seeing the model dedicated to the design genius and son of company founder Ettore Bugatti, the Meo Costantini Edition and the model dedicated to Rembrandt Bugatti, we admit that we became huge fans of these special editions.
Now, the fifth model has arrived and as its name says it, this special edition revives the iconic Bugatti Type 18 “Black Bess”. For those who don’t know, this model was the first-ever street legal super sports car and one of the most important Bugatti model of the pre-war era. The Type 18 was powered by a 5.0-liter 4-cylinder in-line engine capable to generate over 100 hp and to push the vehicle to a top speed of 160 km/h or 100 mph, an unbelievable number for the time.
Ettore Bugatti drove the Black Bess in races and he secured a win in his class in the 1912 Mont Ventoux hill climb. Despite its success, Bugatti only built 7 vehicles and sold them to an extremely select group of customers. One of these customers was the famed and celebrated French aviation pioneer Roland Garros, the man who successfully crossed the Mediterranean in an airplane in 1912.
After Ettore’s victory at Mont Ventoux, Garros, who was looking for a car that would enable him to travel as fast on land as he could in the air, decided that the Type 18 was the perfect choice. Garros received his Type 18 bearing the vehicle identification number 474 to Garros on 18 September 1913. This Type 18, later named after the English racehorse “Black Bess”, is one of only three of the seven vehicles still remaining.
Today, the Bugatti Type 18 “Black Bess” can be found in the Louwman Museum, a private collection on show at The Hague in the Netherlands. Still, Evert Louwman made the historic Type 18 “Black Bess” specially available for the world premiere of the current “Black Bess” Legend Vitesse at the Auto China in Beijing.
So, the fifth model in the six-part “Les Légendes de Bugatti” (Bugatti Legends) Edition is based on the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. This means that it is powered by the mighty 8.0-liter W16 engine that delivers 1,200 hp and unparalleled torque of 1,500 Nm at 3,000–5,000 rpm. This model accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.6 seconds and has a top speed of 408.84 km/h (254 mph) with the roof down.
Made entirely of carbon fiber and painted completely black (just like its legendary predecessor), the new Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Black Bess comes with gold-coloured accents that make the Type 18 “Black Bess” so unmistakable. Some of the vehicle’s body components such as the striking Bugatti horseshoe are coted in 24-carat gold.
The theme is continued by the gold-coloured stripes that start below the headlights and radiate out over the front wings towards the rear. At the rear we find a golden EB logo, same found on the hub covers on the black rims. The tank and oil caps, which have been engraved with the “Black Bess” nameplate and elegantly finished with gold paint.
The interior features the finest leather and the headliner, footwell, seats, elongated centre console and rear bulkhead are bedecked in a light “Beige” tone. Meanwhile, the dashboard, dash panel, door trim panel and cowl panel offer a discreet contrast in ”Havanna”. Steering wheel is wrapped in red “Crimson”leather, drawing a clear reference to the historic Type 18 “Black Bess”.
The theme is continued with red decorative stitching on the outer bolsters of the seats and in the seat belts. The door panels are quite unique as they 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.
As you may expect it, these sketches are hand-painted directly onto the leather, using a special new ink and new impregnation process. The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Black Bess will be manufactured in a very limited edition of just three units and none of the six door panels will be identical.
Furthermore, golden accents are found inside the car, on the EB logo on the cover of the rear storage compartment, which is also finished in beige leather and hand-painted with a motif showing the historic vehicle.
Still, this is not all as we also spotted the door sills bearing the image of the Type 18 “Black Bess” as well as the “Les Légendes de Bugatti” nameplate on the centre console extension. The symbol for the Legends Edition a.k.a the dancing elephant has been refined with a gold finish for this model. [source: Bugatti]