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Bugatti automobiles has been building W16-powered supercars since the Veyron concept car debuted in 2000. Now, it is bidding this powertrain farewell–in style. The final W16 Bugatti will be the Mistral roadster. It may seem odd that the latest Bugatti doesn’t have a true convertible top. But the automaker is actually returning to its roots, which lie in roadsters based on race cars.

Ettore Bugatti originally founded his self-named car company in 1909. He was one of the first automakers to experiment with weight savings, and introduced the “Type 13” Grand Prix roadster at the 1919 Paris motor show. It ws succeeded by the Type 35 in 1924. This Grand Prix car was so far ahead of its time, it remained competitive in motorsports until WWII.

The originally Bugatti company had its own race team. It also sold Grand Prix cars to private teams and wealthy individuals who just wanted to drive one around the French countryside. Some buyers had their local “coach builder” fit a covered touring body on the car. But many drove it with the open-top racing body.

Blue Bugatti grand prix Roadster parked on snow.
1924 Bugatti Type 35 | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

So what did you do if it rained? You steered for the nearest garage or other cover. Or you pulled over your car, covered the passenger compartment with a tonneau cover, and waited for the storm to pass. Or if you were in a hurry, you kept driving and got wet.

I’ve actually seen classic Bugattis with a tonneau cover that has a little door for the driver to poke out of. So you could protect your interior and keep driving. But you would still be at the mercy of the elements.

Over the years, various investors have tried to restart the Bugatti company. VW bought the name and introduced the Veyron with its mid-mounted W16 engine. Though Bugatti became its own company, then merged with Rimac, it has continued using the same basic powertrain for 24 years. But in all that time, it has never offered it as a roadster–until now.

Original design sketches of the open-top Bugatti mistral convertible roadster
2024 Bugatti Mistral | Bugatti

To bid the W16 farewell, Bugatti is building 99 Mistral roadsters. They feature an all-new body on the 1,600 horsepower Chiron “Pur Sport” chassis. But does it have a convertible top?

Frank Heyl, Bugatti’s head of design, revealed that the Mistral comes with an “emergency top” in the trunk. He said it is a soft top that you can attach if you are “surprised by rain.” The assumption here is that you check the weather and don’t take your Bugatti out if there’s rain. If you own a Bugatti, maybe you just fly it to somewhere sunnier if the forecast looks bad.

I expect “emergency top” just means that you’d never attempt the Mistral 260 mph top speed with that soft top on. I don’t know why you’d want to subject your body to that top speed with the top off either, but to be honest Bugatti rarely asks my advice.

Bugatti Mistral convertible roadster air intake.
2024 Bugatti Mistral | Bugatti

Often, convertible supercars are built with a removable hard roof panel. All their speed numbers are figured with that panel on, for better aerodynamics. Bugatti could have gone that route. Heck, it could have sold a Chiron with removable T-tops and called it a day. But Bugatti is a bit different. It engineered an all new body including two huge air scoops behind the driver and passenger’s heads. So a top would cover those up and change how the car operates.

Heyl says that the intention was to celebrate the W16’s eardrum shattering symphony by, well, letting shatter your eardrums. He describes driving the Mistral as having Darth Vader breathing down your neck. And if that sounds like poor advertising, know that before it even goes into production the Mistral is already completely sold out.

Next, find out whether Bugatti fans consider the La Voiture Noire special edition classy or tacky, or see the Mistral roadster and an interview with Frank Heyl yourself in the video below: