Featured: This Is the Quad-Turbo Bugatti We'd Prefer

This Is the Quad-Turbo Bugatti We’d Prefer

By Benjamin Shahrabani
May 5, 2014
10 comments

Long after the birth and glory years of the marque, when Bugatti was considered perhaps the epitome of car manufacturers but before the Bugatti Veyron lay claim to the title of fastest production car on Earth, there was an interim revival stint during the early 1990s. And it is out of this period that one of the most under-appreciated super cars was produced. That car was the Bugatti EB110, which is nearly forgotten today. Indeed, most people associate the Bugatti name with the 1,000+ hp Veyron produced under its current ownership by Volkswagen.

After the death of Bugatti’s founder and namesake, Mr. Ettore Bugatti, in 1947, the company went into decline and eventually ceased building cars. While there were a few attempts to revive the marque, none took hold. Ettore had no heirs, his son Jean famously losing his life testing a Bugatti racing car, and so Bugatti eventually became an airplane parts manufacturer. It seemed for a while that the fabled company would fade into the history books, until in 1987, Mr. Romano Artiolli entered the picture. An Italian entrepreneur and collector of the marque, Romano was encouraged (or perhaps egged on?) by Mr. Ferruccio Lamborghini, and ultimately acquired the Bugatti name and trademark. A long-time Ferrari dealer, Romano wanted to produce a car that was more advanced than any other. Two years later, the revitalized company, now also with a factory designed by architect Mr. Giampaolo Benedini in Campogalliano, just north of Modena, unveiled plans for a new car, the EB110. Named after founder Ettore Bugatti, who would have turned 110 years-old that year, and designed by the famed Mr. Marcello Gandini known for his designs of the Lamborghini Miura, Countach and Diablo, the car was to be as equally state of the art as the new factory.

The new car’s specifications were impressive, both then and now. Romano maintained a “best of everything” approach–the engine, developed by Mr. Paolo Stanzani (who helped design the famed Lamborghini V12) was a 3.5-liter quad-turbo (!) V12, with five valves per cylinder, generating a still impressive (but now increasingly quaint) 553 horsepower that drove all four wheels through a six-speed gearbox (giving it one more gear than the Lamborghini Diablo and Ferrari F512M). Yes, supercars once had three pedals, and a knob you could shift yourself. The EB110 had a top speed of 213 mph, and would reach the magic 60 mph number in just 3.4 seconds, handily overpowering and outpacing its contemporaries. Amongst its other records, it was also the first production car to use a carbon fiber chassis which French aviation company Aerospatiale built for Bugatti. And the car looked Nineties supercar cool. So, the EB110 had all the right stuff, but it just never really caught the buying public’s attention despite its amazing specifications and performance. Correction–the very rich buying public. Only 139 cars were built when the Bugatti factory again closed its doors in 1995. So what happened?

First off, we must consider that a global recession took place just as the EB110 entered production, and along with all the industries it affected, it took an especially heavy toll on the automobile industry. Second, Romano, the principal, made a series of ill-fated business decisions, including overspending on the architectural masterpiece of a factory, purchasing Lotus, and plowing much of the company’s remaining resources into developing the EB112 sedan. Another reason might be that a few months after the EB 110 debuted, another car appeared on the scene–the McLaren F1. Time stands still for no supercar, and the F1 instantly made the EB110 obsolete. Regardless, the company went bankrupt and closed its doors. Dauer Sportwagen, a German race car manufacturer, bought some of the unfinished EB110s and sold them under their name. They would end up further developing the design and selling a lighter, more powerful version called the Dauer EB110 until 2007 when they sold the last one.

Bugatti remained closed until 1998 when the mighty Volkswagen Group dusted off the Bugatti badge once again, and launched the Veyron in 2005. The EB110 became almost a footnote in the marque’s long history, but it shouldn’t be forgotten, because the EB110, while perhaps a bit dated by today’s standards, is still incredibly fast, capable, and rare. It can still hold its own against modern day super cars too. I think I’d rather have an EB110 over the Veyron any day!

Photography courtesy of RM Auctions ©2014

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David Rodgers
David Rodgers

Can’t say I am a fan of the EB110, or the Veyron. I can think of scores of cars I would rather own or drive. For a start the EB110 interior looks like something out of a 90s SUV but above all else it just seems to be trying far too hard. Back in 1985 the late great LJK Setright wrote an article about his favourite Supercars in a special Supercar edition of Car magazine. In summary he believed a Supercar should be effortless and shouldn’t try too hard. As a definition of a Supercar I don’t necessarily agree. I… Read more »

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

This Bugatti really is one of the many forgotten 90’s supercars and as stated in the article, it was quite an impressive build back in the day. When I first saw it, I though it was ugly as… but I grew to like the 90’s feel of the design and again, the specs are quite impressive with that quad-turbo V12. Difficult as the spare-parts question might be, I’d still take the EB110 over the Veyron. You have to consider that while the Veyron might be easier to maintain, some sources claim that it costs about as much as an EB110… Read more »

JB21
JB21

Me, on the other hand, I would take Veyron any day. Interesting and impressive EB110 is, it’s [i]just[/i] another super car. Veyron, you know, that’s something else. A bit like a McLaren F1, really. And if you could own one, you would probably be able to maintain it, too. Or own another one.:p

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

To be honest I always kinda forget this Bugatti existed until i see it online or in articles like this one. With that being said seeing this car in this pretty dark green color i would take it over a Veyron. The car also had the performance to boot as well. Yes the company did fall on hard times and went bankrupt but overall i don’t think it was a bad car and not a bad attempt at a Bugatti revival.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Cool car. Also worth pointing out the great Michael Schumacher owned one before he joined Ferrari (at which point I suspect he was encouraged to sell it).
Not sure what the parts supply is like today though. Dauer brought up all the spares from the factory before they themselves went bust. I understand another German company now owns the spares and tooling?

JB21
JB21

Just out of curiosity, I wonder Bugatti dealer (is there even such things as Bugatti dealer for Veyron) would service this car???

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Yes there are Bugatti dealers for the Veyron. In London the Bentley dealer – Jack Barclay – is the official agent I believe and I suspect the others are all twined with either Bentley or Lamborghini dealers.

David Greenbaum
David Greenbaum

Eerie pictures of the abandoned Bugatti factory in Italy can be found on my site here at:
http://www.carbuildindex.com/14510/abandoned-bugatti-factory/
There, they were built at the Bugatti Automobili Spa factory in Campogalliano, Italy from 1992 to 1995 until VW bought them and moved production of their Veyron to Germany.
I agree, I would rather have the much rarer EB110 than a modern Veyron, but at the same time if I had a McLaren F1 offered, I’d have to go with the Brit. 🙂 Great article guys!

Fred
Fred

The veyron has never been built in Germany but in the original factory in France!