Bugatti’s latest ‘Legend Edition’ Veyron Vitesse is this black and gold creation: the ‘Black Bess’. It’s inspired by the Bugatti Type 18, built from 1912-14, and nicknamed Black Bess for its all-black paintwork.
Don’t go telling me that’s real gold on the Bugatti Veyron Black Bess?
Oh yes – 24-carat gold in fact. Gold inlay is used for the ‘horseshoe’ front grille, wheel caps and filler flap detailing, where it picks out the ‘Black Bess’ moniker. The stripes are simply gold-coloured paint, contrasting with the rest of the car’s all-gloss black finish.
Mechanically, the three Bugatti Veyron Black Bess editions to be produced are identical to every other Veyron Vitesse. There’s a lift-out carbonfibre roof panel, and an 1183bhp 8.0-litre W16 engine to create one hell of a draft when the top is removed. The car accelerates from 0-62mph in 2.6sec, and hits 253mph flat out. Even a decade on from the original Veyron’s debut, the Vitesse’s vital stats are mind-scrambling.
However, it’s inside the Black Bess Veyron that things get really crazy…
Someone’s scribbled all over the interior!
The Black Bess Veyrons’ door cards and rear cabin section are detailed with sketches of the Type 18 Black Bess sports car from the early 20th Century, plus drawings of Roland Garros’ aeroplane, a Morane-Saulnier Type H.
Bugatti says it has developed a dedicated application process so the drawings won’t be damaged by wear and tear inside the car. New leather finishes and solid gold trim set Black Bess apart from ‘normal’ Veyrons inside. The red steering wheel rim, for example, is inspired by the wheel of, you guessed it, the Bugatti Type 18.
What’s all the fuss about this old Bugatti Type 18?
Bugatti reckons the Type 18 was the world’s first super sports car. Its performance was pretty nippy for the day: a 5.0-litre four-cylinder engine developed more than 100bhp, and drove a trick four-speed manual gearbox. With three valves per cylinder and an overhead camshaft, plus a lightweight gearbox, it was one of the most advanced cars of its period. The Type 18 had a top speed of some 100mph, making it very much the Veyron of its day.
So it was fast – what else?
Bugatti’s founder, Ettore Bugatti, competed in hillclimb races in the Type 18, winning the 1912 Mont Ventoux hill climb. Following the high-profile win, seven examples were sold to customers, one of whom was French aviation pioneer and apparent speed freak, Roland Garros.
Garros’ Type 18, chassis number 474, was delivered to him on 18 September 1913. It was this very car that was later named after the English racehorse ‘Black Bess’, and is today one of only three original Bugatti Type 18s known to still be in existence.