When you enter the upper echelon of hypercars, one model from Bugatti once sat high atop the throne for a time as the world’s most expensive car: La Voiture Noire. Price tag? It is estimated in the range of $18 million including taxes.
The one-off vehicle was built in a homage to Bugatti’s 1936 Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, considered to be the first supercar of its heyday. Of four cars that left the factory, one has remained missing for 83 years—nicknamed ‘La Voiture Noire.’
Bugatti La Voiture Noire: One of the world’s most expensive cars
Sometimes, what’s lost can never be recovered. The rare Bugatti would be worth about $113 million USD if recovered today—but it has yet to surface. Ralph Lauren, who owns one of the other two Type 57SCs was reportedly offered $100 million for his example, but he refused to part with it. Which brings us back Bugatti’s new black car.
A design model with no interior was unveiled for Bugatti’s 110th anniversary at the Geneva Auto Show in 2019; the finished product rolled off the line in May of 2021. The spine of La Voiture Noire that links old and new: it runs across nearly the entire length of the car. As some of the Type 57SCs had six exhausts, so does La Voiture Noire. The front of the car is almost identical to its 1930’s namesake.
Bugatti La Voiture Noire
Toss practicality out the window
Bugatti prefers to categorize La Voiture Noire as a Grand Tourer rather than a Hypercar. We won’t split hairs. The power plant is the quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16 engine found in the $3 million Chiron. That means La Voiture Noire generates over 1500 horsepower. However, Bugatti plans to evolve to a hybrid powertrain rather than attempt to improve on the W16, meaning La Voiture Noire will remain even more unique in the years to come.
Practicality is not a concern for most hypercar purchases. However, they can be potent investments in a world of growing upper-echelon wealth. As we’ve seen with many limited-edition supercars, the value of La Voiture Noire is likely to grow in the near future.
Click on image to enlarge and view gallery; Images: Bugatti
The buyer of the one-off is an interesting mystery. Only Bugatti’s top clients were allowed to participate in the auction for the vehicle. In 2019, rumors abounded that football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the vehicle’s owner. Another name thrown around was (now deceased) former Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piech. As of this writing, the identity of La Voiture Noire’s owner is unknown to the general public.
The highest-price car as of today is more likely to be the Rolls Royce Boat Tail, a $28 million hand-built car inspired by J-class nautical yachts. A finished car was revealed at The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in October of 2021, the first as part of Rolls-Royce’s Coachbuild division.
Most expensive cars in the world: Then there’s the Rolls Royce Boat Tail
The Boat Tail took nearly four years to create, with many consultations with the unnamed group of three private buyers. The interior is crafted using the absolute pinnacle of stylish touches: bespoke cutlery by Christofle in Paris; a specially-commissioned BOVET 1822 timepiece; instrument panels adorned with the Guilloché decorative technique. The plan is for three Boat Tails total to be built.
It is hoped that the Coachbuild vehicles, which are a throwback to cars built in the 1920s and 30s, help become part of the future of Rolls-Royce. Vehicles that never suffer the ravages of use, abuse or age.
Rolls Royce Boat Tail
Supercars: What about a Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta?
Can’t afford the Boat Tail or La Voiture Noire? Consider the more reasonably-priced Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta at around $17.5 million dollars. The car was introduced in 2017 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as a gift to Pagani founder, Horacio Pagani.
Click on image to enlarge and view gallery; Images: Rolls Royce
A 7.3L V12 Mercedes-Benz engine powers the car, making 789 horsepower. This makes it the most powerful street-legal Zonda ever produced. After creating three examples (with one retained by Horacio Pagani for his personal collection), the Zonda HP Barchetta marked the end of the Zonda production run. However, one-off Zonda’s can still be commissioned by qualified buyers.
Click on image to enlarge and view gallery; Images: Pagano
There are also classic cars that trade hands for hefty sums: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO went for $48.4 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2018. Certainly, other noteworthy examples are out there, as well.
There will always be more supercars, hypercars and special vehicle commissions. With advances in technology and an affinity for the past, it will be exhilarating to witness what the elite automakers produce next. As it stands, the owners of La Voiture Noire; the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail and the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta are at the top of the heap in terms of vehicle equity.