When Bugatti, one of the motor industry’s most famous and revered names, was acquired by Italian businessman Romano Artioli in 1987, he announced ambitious plans to produce the most technically sophisticated supercar the world had ever Artioli – employed Marcello Gandini, who had designed the Lamborghini Countach, and Mauro Forghieri, one of the most famous racing car engineers, to head up the development team. Between them, they came up with a stunning mid-engineer power output by a 60-valve 3,449 cc V12 with four turbo chargersto boost the power output to a peak of 560 bhp. That gave the new car the Bugatti EB 110, acceleration from o to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 213 mph / 343 km/h, which was absolutely outstanding in its day, and truly worthy of the Bugatti name. (Incidentally, the car was named after the company’s founder, Ettore Bugatti – his initials plus the number of years since his birth.)
The new car had a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis manufactured by the French aeronautics company Aerospatiale, which had learnt about the material in developing its rockets. This in itself set the EB 110 apart from any car that had gone before – it was the first to use this construction technique. The body was composed of aluminium panels bonded to the monocoque and, unusually, it incorporated a glass panel over the engine so owners could view the bespoke power plant. Forward-lifting scissor door ensured a small piece of theatre every time the car was parked, though on the road, the view most people would have had was of the back of the car, with its speed-sensitive rear wing, which rose at higher velocities. To ensure all that power could be evenly transmitted to the road, the EB 110 was fitted with a permanent four-wheel drive system that directed 27 per cent of the power to the front and the remaining 73 per cent to the rear Massive stopping power was provided by Brembo brakes, while the huge tires were specially made by Michelin. For good measure, French oil company Elf provided a unique organic lubricant, which had originally been developed for the Benetton F1 team.
The EB 110 was launched in 1991, but just a year later, it was improved still further in the EB 110 SS (Supersport) model, which was introduced at a price of £281,000. This car was lighter and produced even more power (up to 603 bhp). The result was a slightly higher top speed of 217 mph / 349 km/h, but markedly quicker acceleration through the six-speed gearbox: 0-62 mph now took a mere 3.2 seconds. The Supersport retained the EB 110’s original four-wheel drive system, but the aluminium bonnet, engine cover and venturi under tray were replaced with even lighter carbon-fibre panels, the wheels were changed from aluminium alloy to magnesium, and the moveable rear wing became a fixed unit. The extra power had boon squeezed out of the engine by installing bigger injectors and a revised electronic control unit, and by removing two of the energy sapping catalytic converters in the exhaust. On the open road, the EB11 0 SS was even more extreme that the EB 110. Indeed, it was so outstanding hat F1 champion Michael Schumacher bought one for himself and kept it for many years, even after he moved to become a Ferrari driver.
Sadly, Artioli’s dream wouldn’t last long. He over-extended himself by developing a four-door EB 112 model, and at the same time, bought the British company Lotus. Bankruptcy followed in 1995, which brought to an end the production of the mighty EB11 0 after only 139 had been built. Volkswagen Group bought the rights to the Bugatti marquee in the late 1990s, but the original EB 110 remains one of the rarest and finest supercars ever made.
BUGATTI EB110 SS 1992
ENGINE: 3,498 cc V12
MAXIMUM POWER: 603bhp at 8,000 rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE: 637 Nm at 4,200 rpm
MAXIMUM SPEED: 217 mph / 349 km/h
0-60 MPH ACCELERATION: 3.2secs
TRANSMISSION: 76-speed manual
LENGTH: 1573/4 in / 4,400 mm
WIDTH: 781/4 in / 1,940 mm
HEIGHT: 441/4 in / 1,125 mm
WHEELBASE: 1001/2in / 2,550 mm
MANUFACTURE DATE: 1992-1995
BRAKES: disc, (f and r)
SUSPENSION: double wishbone (f and r)
WHEELS: alloy, 18 in
TIRES: 245/40 ZR-18 (f), 325/30 ZR-18 (r)