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Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire is a $19 million ode to the grotesquely rich

The most expensive new car ever has already been sold

Disregard your bank (im)balance for a moment, and consider this proposition: Bugatti has designed a one-off, blacked-out car — built upon the Chiron drivetrain, and made out of carbon fiber and all the finest materials humanity has discovered — but it costs a whopping $18.9 million and you can’t have it for another 2.5 years, because Bugatti has to figure out how to engineer and homologate the preposterous thing. Do you take up that offer?

Any car fanatic would calculate how many Ferraris, McLarens, and Lambos could be had for such a princely sum, and how much driving can be done in 30 months, and decline as quickly and politely as possible. But if you’re a person more concerned with signaling their status or preserving their wealth, this $19 million Bugatti proposal is a no-brainer.

I talked to Bugatti design director Achim Anscheidt today while admiring a design model of his company’s newly announced “La Voiture Noire.” This vehicle will be a one-off — there’ll only ever be one made — homage to the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. Designed by Jean Bugatti, eldest son of founder Ettore, the 57 Atlantic had an iconic all-black variant, which went missing during the Second World War, and that’s what today’s La Voiture Noire commemorates. Anscheidt tells me that once his design team finished with their work, the extremely limited-edition new car was bought by the first person it was offered to.

Because, why wouldn’t you? Purchasing a one-off Bugatti, at any price, is like buying futures in the stock of multibillionaires of the future. If you believe there’ll be more egregiously wealthy humans on the planet — whether in number or in amplitude of wealth — then it only makes sense to own extraordinarily exclusive items like this all-black Bugatti.

Anscheidt isn’t shy about the clientele that his company attracts, telling me that Bugatti has “a customer base that is used to configuring their yachts and their airplanes themselves,” and, further, that “if you compare it to the art market, it’s not so outrageous.”

I’m still reeling from the matter-of-fact manner in which those words were uttered, along with the inescapable logic they contain. The $19 million Bugatti La Voiture Noire will have the exact inverse value curve of a regular car: it’ll start to appreciate rather than depreciate the moment it’s delivered, and after 20 or so years, it’s likely to be an even more desired and exceptional art / status / wealth piece. Only a reckless fool would dare drive it.

Unsurprisingly, Bugatti’s new hypercar debut is the most expensive new car ever built and sold. What might surprise you, though, is that its escalated price is thanks entirely to its fancier design and scarcity. Bugatti didn’t make any performance enhancements relative to the Chiron, which is to say that the Bugatti Divo is still the best-performing vehicle that the brand offers. The Divo costs a comparably tame €5 million / $5.7 million, though that price is only of historic importance, as all 40 examples of it were sold to existing Chiron owners immediately upon announcement.

Before my conversation with Anscheidt concluded, he remarked that Bugatti is seeing a great response to all of its limited-run vehicles, and “there will be many more people who will want to have a one-off car made for themselves.” I’m confident that there are indeed millions who’d very much like that privilege. And I suspect there’ll be just enough who can afford Bugatti’s absurd prices in order to keep this farcical market for ultra-luxuries going.

Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge

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