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.
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. With a 4-cylinder in-line engine and five litre capacity, the vehicle was capable of producing over 100 PS. With a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph), a feat deemed virtually unbelievable for the times, the Type 18 was a true racing thoroughbred and the fastest road vehicle around.
The Type 18 was driven in races by company founder Ettore Bugatti himself; indeed he secured a win in his class in the important 1912 Mont Ventoux hill climb. Bugatti limited the production run for this model to just seven 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, who successfully crossed the Mediterranean in an airplane in 1912 after racking up a host of successes at a variety of aviation events.
It was Ettore’s victory at Mont Ventoux which drew Garros’ attention to the Type 18. A lover of speed through and through, Garros was looking for a car which would enable him to travel as fast on land as he could in the air. The Type 18 was an obvious choice. In counting Garros amongst his customers, Ettore Bugatti had landed a major marketing coup.
This Type 18, later named after the English racehorse “Black Bess”, is one of only three of the seven vehicles still remaining. Today, it can be found in the Louwman Museum, a private collection on show at The Hague in the Netherlands. Evert Louwman has kindly 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.
Creating a truly expressive front view for the Vitesse some gold-coloured stripes start below the headlights and radiate out over the front wings towards the rear, before tapering off at the end of the door line.
“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 fulfil the valid quality requirements demanded by modern day production.
The panels are upholstered in “Havanna” leather and bear scenes which depict the historic Type 18 “Black Bess”. These sketches have been hand-painted directly onto the leather – just as the components in luxury vehicles were hand-painted in the early 1920s
The interior of the “Black Bess” Legend Vitesse* has been fully upholstered using the finest leather. The headliner, footwell, seats, elongated centre 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”.
The gold-coloured accents which make the Type 18 “Black Bess” so unmistakable are reflected in exquisite fashion on the modern Bugatti. Some of the Bugatti’s body components are coated in 24-carat gold. The EB logo on the rear of the vehicle in a similarly brilliant gold finish.
The hub covers in a brilliant gold finish on the black rims bear the initials of the company’s founder, Ettore Bugatti, in black.
The Fuel Cap is painted in black, engraved with golden “Black Bess” lettering and elegantly finished with gold paint.