Bugatti EB110 – The Carbon Fiber Pioneer Engineered to Reclaim Racing Glory
Among supercars kindling multi-million-dollar auction bidding frenzies, few rev higher claiming ultimate performance bragging rights than Bugatti’s legendary pre-WW2 Type 35 dominating early Grand Prix races piloted by race aces like Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari. Yet after discontinuing auto production in the early 1950s to focus solely on airplane parts fabrication, the French marque’s racing legacy hibernated–that is, until an entrepreneurial Italian visionary resuscitated the dormant nameplate 30 years later. Businessman Romano Artioli acquired rights to Ettore Bugatti’s eponymous brand in 1987, establishing operations in both Italy and France using modern tools to chase past motorsports glory. His plan? Launch exclusive, hand-built vehicles leveraging the fabulous twin-cam Type 35 lineage but augmented by cutting-edge 1990s technology befitting kings and oligarchs.
By 1991 Bugatti unveiled its ambitious 196 mph EB110 supercar as the fastest and most expensive ultra fascinating of the era. State-of-the-art construction methods, a bespoke quad-turbo V12, and race-tuned dynamics aimed to reestablish credibility during the dawn of F1, LeMans, and GT1. This piece revisits the radical Bugatti EB110 engineering spectacle–a machine forcibly evolving a heritage brand into the postmodern era at any expense.
External Provenance Masking Inner Innovation – The Making of a 1990s Superhero
While then-current Lamborghinis or Ferraris reskinned existing underpinnings to appear new every few years, Bugatti’s clean-sheet EB110 omitted no innovation internally even if its classic body recalled Type 35 glory externally. Artioli tapped chassis experts like ex-F1 designer Paolo Stanzani to render the EB110 structure in advanced aerospace carbon fiber composite augmented by Nomex honeycomb stiffening structural panels. Quad cam 48 valve aluminum V12 engines channeled up to 610 horsepower through all four wheels via a Porsche-derived 6-speed transmission. Every aspect aimed to capture 1990’s motorsports through bespoke technology benefiting merely the road car appearing almost conventionally pure.
Yet prospective owners including the Brunei royal family or Michael Schumacher prized prominence over conformity or economies. Costing nearly USD 350,000 when new against half the sum for a 1992 Ferrari 512, the EB110 unapologetically announced Bugatti’s racing rehabilitation without chasing vulgar attention like 1990’s Lamborghini Diablos or Counties. One either recognized the pedigree or didn’t deserve ownership. Sub 10-second 0-60 acceleration and 9-second quarter-mile windows rendered bragging rights redundant anyway. On paper and road, the electrified EB110 walked the walk-in social or motorsports circles.
Bugatti EB110 Handling and Packaging – Race Car Refinement, Not Compromise
While skyscraper figures like 0-200 kph (124 mph) in 45 seconds proved Shirking no component unworthy of obsessive weight savings, composite chassis construction enabled a mere 3,300 lbs total mass including all-wheel-drive hardware and a plush leather cabin. Unequal-length double wishbones adapted from the Lotus Formula 1 car provided nimble reflexes and stiffness managing prodigious power. Triple-plate carbon clutches enabled seamless gear changes when desired. Yet the cockpit remained comfortably outfitted for road use rather than being stripped as some road-legal racers. Despite sporting intensity rivaling LeMans prototypes on pace potential alone, EB110 refinement kept hooligan antics at bay when undesired. Its duality mastered the gentleman racer essence Bugatti envisioned during its glorious past.
Posthumous Reputation Cementing1990’s Icon Status
Despite astronomical asking price and low production volume producing just 90 finished examples by 1995 when chassis constructor Dauer acquired Bugatti after an ownership dispute, the EB110’s significance in securing Bugatti’s modern revival cannot be understated even if recognition came too little too slowly to forestall the brand’s second demise. By 2011 when Volkswagen AG acquired all Bugatti rights and intellectual property, the EB110 enjoyed appreciation likely exceeding its stratospheric original MSRP thanks to 1990 styling aged gracefully while the bespoke drivetrain and advanced composite construction seemed cutting edge 25 years hence. The Veyron supercar launching next wearing the prancing elephant badge owed technical inspiration if not outright homage to the pioneering yet unappreciated EB110 of the early 1990s.
Similar to the 1960s Ford GT40 winning the 1966 24 Hours of LeMans before finding recognition or 1965’s futuristic hinged door Lamborghini Countach popularized a decade later by 1980’s pop culture, the EB110 trail blazed as a prophetic pioneer misunderstood amid its era. Romano Artioli’s genius retrofitting Bugatti tradition to 1990 possibly deserved the praise posterity now grants even if shortsighted contemporaries moved on quicker fixating on past glory exclusive to princes when mere millionaires could command contemporary machines matching legend. No lasting greatness emerges by playing safe to a convention. The EB110 warrants remembrance as Bugatti’s brief, bright signature bridging old money with new supremacy.