Autos Luxury

The Most Expensive Car Ever Built: How Much Did It Cost?

La Voiture Noire

In early March this year, Bugatti revealed the world’s most expensive new car at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, as reported by CNBC.com’s David Reid. The car is dubbed La Voiture Noire (“the black car”). Built to commemorate Bugatti’s 110th anniversary, it’s the automaker’s only one-off car.

Another surprise was that someone bought the car before it was even introduced at the show

And even though details about La Voiture Noire are now public knowledge—including what the new owner paid for it— mystery still surrounds it. We’ll disclose the sales price in a moment. But right now let’s look at what we do and don’t know about the car.

The case of the missing Atlantic

La Voiture Noire has a fascinating backstory that adds to the intrigue that continues to swirl around it. Based on the Chiron, the car also is inspired by the 1936 Type 57 SC Atlantic Aéro Coupé No. 57453, the original “black car”.

Jean Bugatti, son of the carmaker’s founder, Ettore Bugatti, designed the Atlantic, and only four cars were made. They were lowered grand tourers with supercharged DOHC in-line 8-cylinder engines that put out 200 hp. They also represented a striking aesthetic, with its bizarre yet elegant elongated bodies and exaggerated fenders.

Three of the Atlantic variants have survived to the present day. Jean Bugatti was quite proud of the fourth car, No. 57453, which was black with a dark brown and black interior. However, it mysteriously vanished in 1941 when it and many other cars were moved from the Bugatti factory in Molsheim near the French-German border to Bordeaux.

Bugatti built the present-day La Voiture Noire as a concept car as a tribute to the mythic character of the original. But if No. 57453 existed today, it would be worth at least $100 million by some estimates.

What we know about La Voiture Noire

The most luxurious new car ever debuting at Geneva this year is a grand tourer like the Atlantic that inspired it. Long and low with a lustrous black carbon fiber body, this car is a stealth beast. It only looks like a hypercar.

It has the signature Bugatti horseshoe grille and thin curving tail lights that run the width of the car. Underneath the word “Bugatti” is illuminated and below that are six exhaust pipes. Like the Atlantic, this supremely expensive car has a dorsal seam running down the center of the car.

Because it is a grand tourer, it’s fairly heavy. When Bugatti completes the work on La Voiture Noire and it goes home with its owner, it’s estimated that its curb weight will be around 4,300 pounds. Hypercars, on the other hand, usually weigh no more than 3,500 pounds.

The heart of this car is a massive quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16 engine that pumps out 1,479 hp and 1,180 lb-ft of torque. Its top speed is 260 mph and it can run a zero to 60 mph heat in 2.4 seconds, according to Ciprian Florea of TopSpeed.com. 

But we don’t know much about La Voiture Noire’s interior. Florea thinks that, when it’s completed, it will be based on the Chiron. The color scheme will be all black leather or black and dark brown like the Atlantic.

A steep price tag and a mystery buyer

One look at the stunning, one-of-a-kind La Voiture Noire makes it seem almost logical that an infatuated buyer would hand over nearly $19 million (16.7 million euros) for it. That’s more expensive than the sale price of the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta at $17.5 million and the one-off Rolls-Royce Sweptail at $13 million. It’s three times the price of Bugatti’s Divo and six times more than the Chiron.

Yet another unanswered question is this: who paid such a tidy fortune for the car? At first, some reports said that it was Ferdinand Piech, former chairman of Volkswagen Group. This would make sense since VW is Bugatti’s parent company. And Piech would certainly know the story of Jean Bugatti’s lost Atlantic. 

Other news stories named the buyer as soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who already owns a $2.5 million Chiron. Ronaldo has since denied it. Even multimillionaire prizefighter Floyd Mayweather, already an owner of a Bugatti Veyron and at least 100 other cars, was rumored to have bought it. No one can confirm that any of these luminaries—or anyone else, for that matter—is the car’s buyer.

If the identity of La Voiture Noire’s buyer is ever disclosed, it won’t be until 2021 or 2022 when Bugatti completes work on the outrageously expensive car. Whoever it is, we’re pretty sure that individual will be supremely happy with his or her purchase.