The Bugatti W16 Mistral gets its name from the northwesterly Mediterranean wind that billows through France. But this freewheeling spirit is evoked in so much more than the vehicle’s name. Every inch of this car coheres into a streamlined experience sure to amaze anyone lucky enough to be behind the wheel.
Like most products that appear effortless and uncomplicated, the Bugatti W16 Mistral is anything but. Take its X-theme tail lights as an example: On the surface, they look striking, yet they also function to enhance the cooling circuit within. Some details become apparent only upon close inspection. For instance, at first glance, the gearshift appears to have a random golden decorative design. But in actuality, this is much more than a decoration. It’s an amber-encased sculpture of a dancing elephant, which replicates a celebrated work by Rembrandt Bugatti, the younger brother of the company’s founder, Ettore Bugatti.
With its sleek design and hand-woven leather interior, the W16 Mistral is undoubtedly the latest in a long line of stunning European sports cars. Buggati intended to craft something that looked at home winding through the hills and towns of the French Riviera, and it’s impossible to deny that the auto manufacturer has achieved this. Any filmmaker who observes this vehicle is sure to start imagining all the ways they would shoot the car in a coastal setting.
For something that looks so modern, it’s surprising to learn that the W16 Mistral’s design is an homage to a car almost a century old. In 1935, the Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid Usine rode to victory during the Chavigny Hill Climb. “The Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid Usine is an exceptional piece of Bugatti’s heritage in every aspect,” said Christophe Piochon, president of Bugatti, in 2022. And when shown next to each other, the W16 Mistral and the Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid Usine are clearly related. Yes, the W16 Mistral has a much smoother design, but it does share several features, such as two roof-mounted engine air scoop intakes. Details like this prove that Bugatti is, at heart, still the same outstanding manufacturer of uniquely stunning cars in the present day.
The W16 Mistral also represents the end of an era for Bugatti. For nearly 20 years, the 8.0-liter W16 engine has been a key feature in the company’s cars. In fact, it’s the only 16-cylinder engine that has ever been used in a car. When it was released in 2005, “never before had a production vehicle featured an engine which was so powerful, yet so compact and able to cruise as easily as it could obliterate acceleration records.” The Mistral is the final road-going model to utilize the W16 engine, giving this revolutionary piece of manufacturing the great send-off it deserves.
In all, only 99 W16 Mistrals will be produced. Clearly, anyone who wants to own a piece of car history needs to rush to purchase this instant classic.