The Bugatti EB110 Was A Record Setting Road Car In Its Day And It Also Gave Us A Glimpse Into the Future Of The Brand
When the Bugatti EB110 was revealed to the world on 15 September in 1991, it had been 35 years since the once famous marque had released a new sports car. Company owner Roman Artioli was a passionate advocate of the brand and after having bought the trademark rights and becoming chairman of Bugatti Automobili SpA in 1987, he set about designing a supercar befitting of the technically advanced models Bugatti had once been known for. Keen to retain and build on its rich heritage, Artioli had chosen that exact date in September as it coincided with Ettore Bugatti’s 110th birthday. The factory too had been opened on the same day the year before and, while thoroughly modern, incorporated the original entrance door from the former Bugatti factory in Molsheim.
The new factory was not in France however, but in the Emilia Romagna region, near Modena in Campogalliano. Within shouting distance of such established brands as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati such a link to the past was essential to ensure that customers felt connected with the Bugatti name and at the factory opening 77 historical Bugatti models lined the streets. With some of the industry’s top engineers, designers and mechanics on board, Romano Artioli was ready to create the sports car of his dreams, sparing no expense and using the latest and most advanced materials the Bugatti EB110 was born.
One benefit of a clean-sheet design was that Artioli was not limited by having to use an existing chassis or drivetrain and the EB110 was built to similar principles which made its forebears so successful, namely lightweight materials combined with the best technology available. While class-leading performance was paramount, the EB110 was also designed to be comfortable too, it had electric seats, air-conditioning and top quality materials on every surface.
The EB110’s engine was a work of art too, producing 560hp from a quad-turbo 3.5-liter V12. The car also featured two differentials and all-wheel-drive, allowing it to rocket to 62mph in just 3.5-seconds and top out at 208.7 mph. The Super Sports variant which arrived the following year had 611hp and could achieve 219mph, cutting the 0-62mph time down by 0.2-seconds. These figures were good enough to net it world records for the fastest acceleration, the fastest series-production sports car, the fastest sports car running on gas, and the fastest series-production car on ice. Works race cars developed 670hp and competed in the American IMSA series as well as at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Daytona.
Sadly, the downturn in the world’s economy and Artioli’s subsequent investment in Lotus accumulated insurmountable liabilities, which saw the production facilities close down after just 96 EB 110s and 32 EB110 Super Sport variants had been made. Fortunately for the brand, not long after the Volkswagen Group took over the trademark rights and helped revitalize Bugatti to new heights.
Were it not for Artioli’s efforts this might never have happened, as Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti says, “With the EB110 Romano Artioli has succeeded in making a great sports car. Because of his initiative and thanks to his efforts, Bugatti has been revived in the modern age”. While the EB110 remains the only Bugatti not built in Molsheim, its legacy remains, and it is as much a part of Bugatti’s history as any of its creations before or since. In fact, there have been rumors of a spiritual successor being launched in the near future.
Images courtesy of Bugatti.