Bugatti Legend ‘Black Bess’ honors the Veyron’s great grandfather

Bugatti has been rolling out “Legend” editions of its already-legendary Veyron to celebrate its past and, most likely, to fill the last few orders for this rarified supercar.

The penultimate Legend car was revealed ahead of its scheduled debut at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show. It’s called Black Bess.

Black Bess was the nickname of a Bugatti Type 18, which was the fastest road car in the world when it was new. Talk about coming full circle.

Built between 1912 and 1914, The Type 18 had a 5.0-liter four-cylinder engine that developed around 100 horsepower, and was able to propel the car to over 100 mph. That feat was as remarkably in the 1910s as the current Veyron Super Sport’s 267 mph top speed is in the 2010s.

Only seven Type 18s were built, and only three survive today. One of those is the car known as Black Bess, a name taken from an English racehorse. The car’s current owner – collector Evert Louwman – will loan the car to Bugatti for display in Beijing alongside its modern counterpart.

As with the other Bugatti Legend cars, the 21st century Black Bess is based on the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse roadster. It has four times has many cylinders as the original car, boasting an 8.0-liter, quad-turbocharged W16 that produces around 1,200 hp.

The Vitesse will do 0 to 62 mph in 2.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 253 mph, making it the world’s fastest open-topped car.

But those figures apply to any old Vitesse. The Black Bess is set apart with some unique visual flourishes, including a black exterior laced with 24-carat gold accents.

The interior features images of the original Black Bess in the leather and wood surfacing, plus a red steering wheel and accents.

Only three Bugatti Legend Black Bess Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse models will be built, each priced at 2.15 million euros (about $2.98 million at current exchange rates).

The Black Bess is a fitting reminder of Bugatti’s history of building superlative road cars. Not that it matters though: no one is going to believe the owners bought their cars for the history when they see those 24-carat gold accents.

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